Doctor Who

Starring: Colin Baker
Big Finish Productions
RRP 13.99
ISBN 1 903654 73 4, BFPDWCD6ZB
Available now

The Doctor and Peri visit a conference of lexicographers. But the leading expert in the field is found dead, apparently by her own hand. Is her hologlyphic assistant responsible? Can the Doctor discover who wrote the suicide note, and why it is riddled with spelling mistakes...?

And so we come to the latest Doctor Who release from Big Fin-


Colin Baker has certainly benefited from some excellent scripts during his time with this company, far better than the ones he tended to get while playing the Doctor on TV. Like The Whispers of Terror - his previous adventure with co-star Nicola Bryant - this story truly plays to the strengths of the audio medium. Whereas Whispers concerned itself with sound, ...ish concentrates on language. The precise meaning of the words spoken is even more vital in audio drama than it is on the large or small screen (which can, when all else fails, fall back on visual means of communication).

The subject matter, which touches upon both sides of the old "correct English" versus "living, evolving language" debate, is well suited to the pedantic Sixth Doctor, who continues to berate Peri (Bryant) about her Americanisms. The Doctor pours scorn upon "-or" spellings in place of "-our" spellings and the use of "-ize" in place of "-ise". So perhaps we'd better not tell him (or the author, Phil Pascoe) that "-ize" spellings are advocated by Chambers 21st Century Dictionary, and were regularly used in Virgin Publishing's Doctor Who novels!

The buzzing, modulated voice of the artificial intelligence Book (Moray Treadwell) - a kind of walking, taking super-dictionary - haunt the listener for quite some time after the CDs have concluded. However, some over-acting by Chris Eley as the linguistic anarchist Warren undermines the drama to a degree.

Pascoe's intelligent script, which is peppered with inventive and amusing wordplay, is sometimes a little too clever for its own good, and does get a bit long-winded and, well... wordy! As a result, this drama falls short of utter brilliance, and ends up being merely brilliant-


Richard McGinlay