Chapter Four - A Blind Eye

Starring: Lalla Ward and Louise Jameson
Big Finish Productions
RRP 9.99
ISBN 1 84435 091 6
Available 28 May 2004

Mephistopheles Arkadian persuades President Romana to meet him on the Vienna-Calais Transcontinental Express in September 1939. One of the train's passengers is Cecilia Pollard, sister of Charley. But what does an intergalactic secrets broker want with a fascist sympathiser...?

You may notice that I have dropped John (K9) Leeson from the regular cast named in the "Starring" line, above. This is because, in the great tradition of the Doctor Who television series, the metal mutt is forced to sit out most of this intriguing adventure within the confines of his mistress's TARDIS due to unfavourable local conditions - in this case, the fact that Romana (Lalla Ward) is on 1930s Earth, where robot dogs are not commonplace.

However, his absence is more than compensated for by the presence of some excellent guest stars. Hugo Myatt makes a welcome return as Arkadian, the dodgy dealer last heard in Chapter One of this series, who offers the President some closure with information regarding the debacle on the planet Gryben. Susan Engel is also enjoyable as an eccentric elderly passenger, Ms Joy.

India Fisher, better known as the Eighth Doctor's companion Charley Pollard, plays Charley's nazi-sympathising sister. Her political views are unpalatable - and certainly cause some friction with Leela (Louise Jameson), who has confronted more than her fair share of class and race prejudice in her time - yet Cecilia is also a rather sad and tragic character. (At least Leela and Romana don't meet Vicky Pollard, the inarticulate teen from the comedy show Little Britain. She would have made their journey truly hellish!)

The period and location prepare us for a mystery, probably involving a murder. Writer Alan Barnes gives us that and more, by also mixing in a brain-straining temporal dichotomy. The train setting also makes a refreshing change from the sterile world of Gallifrey.

My quest to rationalise this series into the same continuity as the New Adventures novel Lungbarrow continues! Regular readers may recall that, in my review of Chapter One, I suggested that, since Andred is now believed to be dead, this miniseries and the Doctor Who audio drama Zagreus could take place after Lungbarrow, if we assume that the pregnant Leela suffered a miscarriage. It has been pointed out that Lungbarrow is unlikely to have occurred before these audio adventures, because in Zagreus Leela and Romana do not appear to have ever met each other before. Well, without giving too much away, it has now become possible to resolve that little issue...

A Blind Eye remains on track throughout its journey, and brings the series satisfyingly to the end of the line.

Richard McGinlay

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