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Audio Drama Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who
Max Warp


Starring: Paul McGann
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £10.99
ISBN: 978 1 84435 305 7
Available 29 February 2008

“Welcome to Max Warp, broadcasting live from the Sirius Inter-G Cruiser Show, hosted by outspoken columnist and media personality Geoffrey Vantage, with spaceship guru extraordinaire O’Reilley and daredevil pilot Timbo ‘the Ferret’!” When a test flight of the new Kith Sunstorm ends in disaster, the Sirius Exhibition Station is plunged into a web of murder and intrigue. Someone is trying to re-ignite a war between the Varlon Empire and the Kith Oligarchy. As the fate of the galaxy hangs in the balance, only two investigators, the Doctor and Lucie, can hope to uncover the truth. “So strap yourself in, engage thrust, and prepare for... Max Warp...!”

It’s a little odd for Big Finish to release such a comedic story so soon after the similarly offbeat Dead London. However, this fact is not at all unexpected when you bear in mind the name of the writer: Jonathan Morris, the author of such witty yarns as Festival of Death and The Beautiful People.

Max Warp is described by its makers (in the interviews at the end of the CD) as “Top Gear in space meets Agatha Christie” - though one of the revelations in this wacky murder mystery owes more to Scooby-Doo than Miss Marple. Played by former Goodie Graeme Garden, Max Warp host Geoffrey Vantage is not a carbon copy of Jeremy Clarkson. He is, if anything, a souped-up version: older and more disparaging of everything from female drivers and female presenters to environmentalists, Vantage makes Clarkson seem liberal by comparison. The Top Gear pastiche even extends to the morally dubious inclusion of a catastrophic high-speed accident involving a co-presenter, Timbo (Duncan James), with an animal-based nickname.

But the humour doesn’t end there. There are also double entendres, as one of the (West Country-accented) Kith (Nick Brimble) refers to having “lost all four of [his] pregenitors”, Geoffrey Vantage enthuses about thrust, and Lucie (Sheridan Smith) mentions a beaver (the animal variety, I hasten to add). Other aspects of modern life spoofed here include government spin doctors (the Varlon President, played by Samantha Hughes, has a robotic “spindroid” to advise her) and computer glitches (“No, I don’t want to submit an error report,” grumbles another member of the Kith Oligarchy).

Fast, furious and funny, if you like your sci-fi silly, Max Warp does it to the max.


Richard McGinlay

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