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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
Time Reef / A Perfect World


Starring: Peter Davison
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 322 4
Available 30 September 2008

“A curse on this damned reef - and curse the Doctor who brought us here!” Drawn by the siren call of a distress beacon, the TARDIS crash-lands on an uncharted time reef. However, the Doctor, Nyssa and Brewster are not the only mariners marooned on this barren rock. Commander Gammades and his crew of returning war heroes have been similarly shipwrecked, as has the beautiful but mysterious Lady Vuyoki. But there’s something else here, too. A thing of darkness that crawls blindly across the surface of the reef hunting for prey: the Ruhk...

This double CD contains two adventures: the three-part Time Reef, written by Marc Platt, and Jonathan Morris’s single-episode A Perfect World.

As usual with Marc Platt’s scripts (see also my recent review of The Doll of Death), I found Time Reef somewhat difficult work to follow (though not as impenetrable as The Skull of Sobek). Concepts such as a beautiful alien woman who reposes in an urn (Lady Vuyoki) and pan-dimensional bird-like creatures (the Ruhk) who are deformed like folded-up umbrellas by the constraints of mere three-dimensional space are perhaps better suited to the medium of prose than that of audio.

Like the character of Control in Ghost Light, the Ruhk (Sean Biggerstaff and Rebecca Callard) adopt scratchy voices for their deformed state, ultimately sounding more refined when they are elevated to a higher status.

I don’t think it was just me who had problems with the script. During the interviews at the end of Disc One, John Pickard (returning for his third appearance as Thomas Brewster) describes the basic premise of the story as best he can, but qualifies this with “as far as I can tell”. When asked what he thinks of the script, Peter Davison’s immediate response is to laugh, though he says this is because he hasn’t finished reading it yet.

Still, the production features some memorable performances from Beth Chalmers as Vuyoki and Nicholas Farrell as Gammades, a space traveller in the mould of a Greek hero, who is vexed that he has for so long been denied the valiant death or glory he craves. The story also develops the Thomas Brewster arc from The Haunting of Thomas Brewster and The Boy That Time Forgot, as the TARDIS crew face the consequences of Brewster’s solo flights in the craft - of which, it turns out, there were several...



Who wouldn’t want to live in a perfect world? Thomas Brewster for one. Be careful what you wish for - you may receive it...

A Perfect World has a similar premise to Time Reef, in that it also deals with the repercussions of Brewster’s careless piloting of the TARDIS, as once more the crew set down in a location he has visited before. There the similarities end, though, for Morris’s tale is a much jollier affair, with a distinct element of Back to the Future-style comedy to it. The writer also throws in a nice variation on the Doctor’s “small, beautiful events” speech from Earthshock.

Rebecca Callard is endearing as the principal guest character, Connie, while Beth Chalmers is even more impressive here than she is in Time Reef, playing no fewer than four characters.

This double-disc release is a mixed bag, but this small, beautiful episode brings it closer to perfection.


Richard McGinlay

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