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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The Doomwood Curse


Starring: Colin Baker
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 320 0
Available 25 August 2008

England, 1738. On the trail of a lost book, the Doctor and Charley arrive at the beautiful country estate of Sir Ralph and Lady Sybil. But all is far from idyllic. There’s a murderer on the loose, and the nearby woods are the haunt of the notorious highwayman Dick Turpin. And that’s not all. Something else has journeyed here, something that could destroy the very fabric of reality. The Doctor and Charley have just 48 hours to solve the mystery before the whole world succumbs to the Doomwood Curse...

Historical tomfoolery, fiction becoming reality (and vice versa), the return of the Grel - and even a song! Yes, it can only be a Jacqueline Rayner script...

It may surprise you (it certainly surprised me) to learn that this is in fact (good fact) the Grel’s first appearance in Doctor Who. I thought they’d been part of the series for years (bad fact), but actually their numerous previous appearances have been in the exploits of Who spin-off character Bernice Summerfield, originally in Paul Cornell’s 1997 novel Oh No It Isn’t, which was adapted by Rayner as Big Finish’s first ever audio production ten years ago. Rayner is evidently keen on the fact-obsessed creatures, having written about them twice before in the meantime, in Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Glass Prison and Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Grel Escape.

However, the Grel are just the starting point for an exploration of fact versus fiction, specifically with regard to the legend of the highwayman Dick Turpin. Nicky Henson (Witchfinder General, Fawlty Towers) is a far cry from Richard O’Sullivan or even Adam Ant as the notorious scoundrel, who is not the lovable rogue of popular fiction. But some force is bringing reality closer to the legend... Fortunately, there isn’t as much singing as there was in Doctor Who and Pirates or the same unevenness of tone.

Meanwhile, India Fisher is settling in remarkably well as the new companion of the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker). As they reveal in the interviews among the CD extras, the two actors got on extremely well when they worked together on productions such as Zagreus, which might explain the producers’ curious decision to make this former companion of the Eighth Doctor an assistant of the Sixth, with all the problems that might eventually entail for the Web of Time.

The Doomwood Curse probably won’t blow you away, but I’m sure that you could stand to have it delivered to your door by Big Finish or one of our online stores.


Richard McGinlay

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