The Wasting

Starring: Siri O'Neal, David Tennant and Nicholas Courtney
Big Finish Productions
RRP: 10.99
ISBN 1 84435 116 5
Available 20 June 2005

A deadly flu-like infection is sweeping the planet, and there is no sign of a cure. Under attack from all sides, the British division of UNIT faces a stark choice: close its doors and concede defeat, or fight back, whatever the cost. The injured Colonel Chaudhry knows that UNIT has never backed down from a battle...

SPOILER ALERT! The following dossier contains classified information about plot developments in this audio recording.

The delayed final instalment of the UNIT mini-series is upon us at last, and it features not only the Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney) but also the Tenth Doctor! OK then, that's not quite true, but it does mark the return of Doctor Who actor, David Tennant, as UNIT's commanding officer, Colonel Brimmicombe-Wood, a role he previously played in the Doctor Who Unbound story Sympathy for the Devil. I wonder whether Tennant's Doctor will ever meet Brimmicombe-Wood in some future television or audio adventure - that would prove rather interesting!

There's no chance of you mistaking the colonel for any of Tennant's other characters from the worlds of Who (which also include Galanar in Dalek Empire III) because his Brimmicombe-Wood voice has a Scottish accent. Very Scottish. In fact, I had forgotten just how Scottish. I almost expected him to say "Och aye the noo" at some point!

Welcome though it is, the return of Brimmicombe-Wood, following an absence - presumed kidnapped or killed - over recent instalments, does pose a problem. It is all too similar to the treatment of Andred's character in Big Finish's first series of Gallifrey, even down to the fact that he turns out to be a bad guy. There's a very slight difference here in that the colonel proves to have been bad all along, whereas Andred was changed by the twin traumas of his regeneration and his undercover mission.

A more trivial complaint is that the title reminds me of the Withering, the non-specific global catastrophe that affected the world of Mark Gatiss's sci-fi comedy radio series Nebulous, which undermines the drama a little for me!

On a more positive note, it's always good to hear Nicholas Courtney in his familiar role as Lethbridge-Stewart.

This is an enjoyable episode, worth wasting some time with, but it falls short of the standard of the previous one, The Longest Night. In general, I have not found this series as engaging as the Gallifrey saga.

Richard McGinlay

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