Doctor Who
Invaders from Mars

Starring: Paul McGann
Big Finish Productions
RRP 13.99
ISBN 1 903654 57 2, BFPDWCD8F
Available now

The Doctor and Charley land in Manhattan, 1938, where they stumble upon a dead private detective. Playing gumshoe, the Doctor becomes embroiled in a hunt for a missing Russian scientist. Meanwhile, Orson Welles prepares for his legendary
War of the Worlds radio broadcast. Could there be a grain of truth in this Hallowe'en jape about alien invasion...?

This play could have been called Invaders from Spaced, featuring as it does the vocal talents of two stars from that esteemed sitcom. Simon Pegg plays gangster Don Chaney, while Jessica Stevenson plays femme fatale Glory Bee, although both are difficult to recognise through their adopted accents.

It's ironic that, just like in his previous audio adventure, Minuet in Hell, McGann is again surrounded by dodgy American accents, but at least this time the intention of the piece is clearly light-hearted. Writer/director Mark Gatiss (who is, of course, now best known for his comedy work as one of The League of Gentlemen) confesses in the sleeve notes that his story gets "a bit silly". Thus we are offered bizarre names such as Glory Bee and Bix Biro (Welles' radio boss, played by Paul Putner, who appeared alongside Gatiss in one of the sketches for BBC2's Doctor Who Night in 1999). There's also a ranting alien who sounds like a cross between Davros and Sil (Putner again, who played a similarly Davros-like role in Lee and Herring's Good Morning with Richard Not Judy).

The highlight of this tale is the involvement of Orson Welles, who is convincingly impersonated by David Benson. As with the fake newsreel heard at the beginning of Storm Warning, the opening to last year's "season" of Eighth Doctor audio adventures, the re-creation of a period broadcast really helps to set the scene.

McGann is also good fun as the Doctor plays, rather amateurishly, at being a "private dick".

The cliffhangers aren't as exciting as we've got used to from Big Finish, but this adventure certainly provides a stylistic start to McGann's "second season".

Richard McGinlay