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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
Assassin in the Limelight


Starring: Colin Baker
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 317 0
Available 30 May 2008

Ford’s Theatre, Washington. Friday, 14th April, 1865. The assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The place, the date and the event that made history. Or did it? Someone has been tampering with time, muddying the waters of history for his own purposes. Time itself is out of joint and the chief culprit is the enigmatic Dr Robert Knox. Somehow the Doctor and Evelyn must put history back on its proper track before the future dissolves into chaos. But Knox, it turns out, may prove to be the least of their worries...


After 2004’s Medicinal Purposes and 2006’s Pier Pressure, it must surely be about time for another Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and Evelyn Smythe (Maggie Stables) adventure penned by Robert Ross. Well, here it is, and it’s a sequel to both of those previous stories, featuring the villain from Medicinal Purposes and the monster from Pier Pressure. However, having managed to avoid the trailer and not having fully digested the contents of the synopsis, I didn’t know that Dr Knox was coming back. I knew Leslie Philips was in it, but I didn’t realise he was reprising the same Time Meddler role as before. So that was a nice surprise, hence the spoiler alert above, just in case you didn’t know either.

Being unfamiliar with the historical period, I occasionally lost my way among the political and interpersonal manoeuvrings, but this is an enjoyable tale. It’s not really what Russell T Davies would call a “celebrity historical” because, with the exception of the infamous assassin John Wilkes Booth (Paul Dubois), the story deals with lesser-known individuals such as Clara Harris (Lysette Anthony), who was a witness to the murder of President Lincoln. Honest Abe himself never appears. In the CD extras, writer Ross reveals that other killings under consideration for the period setting were the shootings of John Lennon and John F Kennedy (though I’m glad the latter wasn’t used, as this subject has already been covered in the novel Who Killed Kennedy).

Philips is in fine form as Dr Knox, a character who has mellowed - just a little - with age since we last met him. The way is left open for the character to return, but probably in a younger body. Is this a cunning contingency plan in case the 84-year-old actor finally pops his clogs before the next story is made?

The ending itself is surprisingly lacklustre, but make sure you keep listening after Part Four’s closing theme... which you’re bound to do anyway, because of the CD extras.

These extras also include an interview with Eric Loren, the latest in a long line of actors from the new television series to be hired as guest stars by Big Finish. As well as his role as John Parker in this play, Loren discusses his characterisation of the Dalek Sec Hybrid in Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks.

As I say, the conclusion is a little flat - but other than that, I did enjoy the play.


Richard McGinlay

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