Chapter Eight - Insurgency

Starring: Lalla Ward, Louise Jameson and John Leeson
Big Finish Productions
RRP: 10.99
ISBN 1 84435 124 6
Available 20 July 2005

After millennia of secrecy, the Gallifreyan Academy has opened its doors to off-worlders - but the experiment is failing. As interracial violence erupts, somebody is using the students as pawns in a political game. And, while Tutor Leela struggles to unravel the motives of her ex-husband Andred, President Romana may be falling under an ancient spell...

The aftermath of the recent terrorist attacks upon London has lent this chapter an added relevancy, as the off-world students of Gallifrey's Academy are made to feel like outsiders and begin to chafe at the limitations placed upon them by heightened security. Writer Steve Lyons focuses upon a particular group of scholars (one of whom, Neeloc, played by Stuart Piper, sounds a bit like Romana's former fellow traveller Adric) of various races as they face segregation and, for all bar the Gallifreyan students, restricted access to information systems. Racial profiling is taking place - but this only inflames the tensions.

Meanwhile, the production team continue to tease me with the possibility that this series might or might not be reconciled with the Doctor Who novel Lungbarrow. On the plus side, despite Leela's (Louise Jameson) continued resistance, there are strong hints that she and Andred (Andy Coleman) might get back together again, and Leela speaks of her one-time wish to bear Andred's child (as she did in Lungbarrow). However, there's evidence to the contrary as... well, it would be a major spoiler if I told you.

In this, the penultimate chapter of the current series, the antipathy that exists between President Romana (Lalla Ward) and Inquisitor Darkel (Lynda Bellingham) comes to a head. The conclusion of the Doctor Who serial The Trial of a Time Lord implied that the Inquisitor might become the next president, getting a vote of confidence from the Doctor himself. Though we do not learn the reason why she was passed over for election on that occasion, it is evident that Darkel has been craving power for some time and is probably resentful of having lost out to Flavia and Romana.

Insurgency is not one of the most exciting instalments to date, but it keeps the saga ticking along very nicely indeed.

Richard McGinlay

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