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Audio Drama Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who
The Condemned


Starring: Colin Baker
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 314 9
Available 29 February 2008

Manchester, 2008. The TARDIS lands in a locked room inside a run-down tower block, beside a dead body - which leads to some awkward questions when the Doctor is found there by the police. As the prime suspect, how can the Doctor prove to the no-nonsense DI Patricia Menzies that this is not the open-and-shut case it seems, and that she’s actually investigating the death of an alien? Higher up in the tower block, a girl named Maxine watches the Doctor being taken away in a squad car. Someone wants her to find out what happened in that room, and isn’t going to be happy if she doesn’t come up with the goods. But she’s got hold of someone who knows - someone very important to the Doctor...

If, like me (and India Fisher, as we glean from the CD extras!), you were sorry to learn of the departure of the Eighth Doctor’s companion Charley in The Girl Who Never Was, you’ll be pleased to know that, having been rescued by the Sixth Doctor at the end of that story, she’ll be sticking around for a while. How this will work in the long term remains to be seen. For instance, will the Sixth Doctor ever discover that Charley is from his own future? Under what circumstances will he lose his memory of her prior to meeting her for the “first” time in Storm Warning. For the moment, though, this is a very interesting exercise in Doctor/companion mix ’n’ match. It’s a very different dynamic that exists between Charley (India Fisher) and the aloof Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) than there was with the more romantic Eighth Doctor.

Having said that, the Doctor doesn’t spend an awful lot of time with Charley in this adventure. They become separated early on, and the Time Lord spends much of the rest of the story in the company of plain-speaking Mancunian DI Patricia Menzies (Anna Hope, sounding completely different to her Novice Hame character from New Earth and Gridlock). They make an engagingly sparky double act, while Charley encounters a mysterious voice supplied by another star from the new series: William Ash, who played Riley in 42.

The present-day Manchester setting provides a gritty, urban flavour that is rare in Doctor Who. For the first time, we hear how Charley copes with such modern concepts as mobile phones and takeaway meals.

Eddie Robson’s complex script keeps the listener guessing. Well, it certainly kept me guessing - to the extent that I actually found certain aspects of the plot difficult to follow, especially as numerous characters are referred to by name (some of them having more than one name each) without being heard at the time. So do pay attention when listening.

However, I won’t condemn The Condemned for that. It’s probably just me being a right Charlie!


Richard McGinlay

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