Doctor Who

Starring: Peter Davison
Big Finish
RRP 13.99
ISBN 1 84435 023 1, BFPDWCD6QD
Available now

Somewhere in the depths of space lies a little-known district called Nekromanteia. The Doctor, Peri and Erimem face the terrors of the Talderun witches and the wrath of a corporate empire when they venture into this domain of the dead...

This double-CD release picks up Big Finish's ongoing Fifth Doctor/Peri/Erimem "season" where last year's historical romp The Church and the Crown left off. Or, if you're a reader of Doctor Who Magazine, then it follows on from No Place Like Home, the rather jolly single-episode adventure which was given away free with that esteemed publication (another effective and affectionate tie-in with the DWM comic strip - nice one, guys).

On reflection, though, perhaps Nekromanteia should have been restricted to a single disc as well. That scriptwriter Austen Atkinson's plot is a little on the slight side is attested to by the brevity of the final episode, and by a largely pointless stopover that the TARDIS crew makes at a Garazone marketplace in Part One.

The high points of the drama are the truly excellent cliffhanger that rounds off Part Two and some eccentric scenes that take place during the third episode, featuring a guest appearance by Simon Williams (who played Captain "Chunky" Gilmore in Remembrance of the Daleks).

There are also decent measures of intrigue and surprise, with several characters turning out not to be quite what they seemed. A very unpleasant bunch of characters they are, too, especially a sadistic military commander (Glyn Owen) who threatens Erimem (Caroline Morris) with sexual violence. I was reminded of the warrior Leela when Erimem stands up for herself - and of events in Logopolis towards the end of the story.

All in all, however, there isn't really enough material here to sustain a 100-minute drama.

Richard McGinlay