Doctor Who
Three's A Crowd

Starring: Peter Davison
Big Finish Productions
RRP: 14.99
ISBN 1 84435 144 0
Available 24 May 2005

Earth Colony Phoenix is struggling to survive. The colonists, utterly dependent on transmat technology and unable to leave the security of their Habitat Domes, have developed severe agoraphobia. The TARDIS crew arrive on an apparently abandoned space station above the planet, and soon discover that they and the colonists are in grave danger...

Has Big Finish embarked upon a series of stories in which Peter Davison's Doctor works with former 1960s Who assistants? No, not quite, but following the guest appearance of William Russell in The Game, Three's A Crowd features Deborah Watling (alias Troughton-era companion Victoria Waterfield) as the colony's ruler, Auntie. Does anyone else think that Watling sounds rather like Kate Mulgrew nowadays? The effect is accentuated in this instance because, like Mulgrew in Star Trek: Voyager, she plays a leader.

Talking of series and companions, Caroline Morris's Erimem has now appeared in enough Big Finish adventures to comprise an entire television season of Doctor Who. Perhaps with that very thought in mind, and following the traumatic events that she experienced in her previous adventure, The Roof of the World, writer Colin Brake raises the question of how much longer Erimem will remain aboard the TARDIS.

But the title of Three's A Crowd doesn't just refer to the TARDIS trio. It also refers to the agoraphobia that plagues the Phoenix colonists, which means that most of them are unable to bear the company of more than one person at a time. Lucy Beresford provides an excellent portrayal of an extreme case, Bellip, who finds it difficult to cope with even a single visitor.

There isn't quite enough plot here to sustain the story's 110-minute running time. On this occasion, three episodes would have been good company and four's a crowd. However, I found the agoraphobia angle so engaging that I am prepared to overlook that, as well as the tale's passing resemblance to the Tom Baker serial The Ark in Space.

Richard McGinlay

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