Doctor Who
Faith Stealer

Starring: Paul McGann
Big Finish Productions
RRP 13.99
ISBN 1 84435 103 3
Available 22 September 2004

The Multihaven a vast array of doctrines and faiths housed in one harmonious community appears to offer the perfect sanctuary in which the distressed C'rizz can convalesce. But under the guidance of the charismatic Laan Carder, one religion seems to be gathering disciples at an alarming rate...

As if to compensate for the over-long gap we were forced to endure between the second and third "seasons" of the Eighth Doctor's audio adventures, Big Finish has only made us wait six months this time around. The main reason for these stories being brought forward is in order to get the Divergent universe storyline resolved and out of the way before the beginning of the new BBC television series starring Christopher Eccleston, and thus avoid confusing any potential new customers with complicated ongoing story arcs.

However, Faith Stealer is actually quite restrained by Divergent universe standards, being more akin to The Twilight Kingdom than Scherzo or The Natural History of Fear in terms of its overall weirdness. But that's just a relative judgement. This is still idiosyncratic stuff, as you might expect from the pen of Graham Duff, co-writer of Steve Coogan's Dr Terrible's House of Horrible.

What is most refreshing about this tale is its frequently jocular tone. This isn't an out and out comedy, but its lighter moments offset the heaviness of traditionally touchy topics such as organised religion and deadly cults. For instance, in order for his party to gain admittance into the Multihaven, the Doctor (Paul McGann) claims that they are followers of the Tourist faith, who begin each day with a ritual cup of tea! Bizarre faiths encountered along the way include the Serendipitists, who believe that any accident, even tripping up, is a happy one. Later on, C'rizz (Conrad Westmaas) submits himself to a "mind-bleaching" therapist (Neil Bett) who comes across like an over-enthusiastic dentist: "Open your mind wide..."

I haven't really appreciated the Divergent universe arc until now, but this adventure has renewed my faith in the series.

Richard McGinlay

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