"You're listening to LIVE 34, broadcasting to Colony 34 all
day, every day - constantly updated every minute of every
hour - all news, all day, every day... Reports are coming
in of an explosion... On the line now is the leader of the
FDP... The President is about to begin his address... We can
see bodies in the wreckage..."
This experimental drama is conveyed entirely in the form of
broadcasts from a 24-hour news network. The structure is still
episodic, but it dispenses with such conventional trappings
as the Doctor Who theme tune (though you might just
be able to hear elements of it in David Darlington's opening
LIVE 34 jingle), incidental music, cliffhanger endings and
reprises. Instead, the "broadcasts" fade in and out of static
in four segments that take place over successive days.
the course of news reports and interviews with individuals
such as the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), Ace (Sophie Aldred)
and Hex (Philip Olivier), newcomer writers James Parsons and
Andrew Stirling-Brown succeed in conveying the distinct impression
that LIVE 34 is not as independent or as impartial as its
anchorman Drew Shahan (Andrew Collins) claims. Nor is the
populace of Colony 34 as free or as prosperous as the government
would have the listeners believe. Once again, Big Finish presents
us with uncomfortable echoes of Britain's present political
situation: civil liberties are being eroded by "security measures"
put in place to protect the public from an alleged terrorist
The voice of Drew Shahan is an almost constant presence throughout
the production, and real-life presenter (and writer and critic)
Andrew Collins rises to the occasion with a subtle and believable
performance that carries the show.
an aside, fans of the New Adventures novels will be
pleased to note that the Doctor's companion Dorothy reverts
to her nickname of Ace during this story, following a sequence
of adventures, beginning with Colditz,
in which she preferred to be addressed as McShane. Now these
audio dramas can once again sit comfortably ahead of The
New Adventures in terms of Who continuity.
34 isn't quite as groundbreaking as it thinks it is -
the similarly themed Babylon 5 episode And Now For
a Word got in there first - but as an experimental piece
of Doctor Who, it is a success.