Iris Wildthyme
2: The Devil in Ms Wildthyme

Starring: Katy Manning
Big Finish Productions
RRP: 10.99
ISBN 1 84435 165 3
Available 27 November 2005

Dr Zachariah Marwick has started a special clinic for people with mysterious lumps, but how come he always knows exactly what they are before he's even examined them? And why is he so insistent upon his patients joining an exclusive speed-dating club? Iris, Tom and Panda must face demons from Iris' past, as an outrageous presence - that seems to have been reading far more Dennis Wheatley than is strictly necessary - begins to assert itself over reality...

It is rare for an Iris Wildthyme story to be penned by any other writer than her creator, Paul Magrs. This audio adventure is scripted by Stephen Cole, though he does have previous experience with the character, having written for Katy Manning's incarnation in the Bernice Summerfield audio drama The Plague Herds of Excelis and the Doctor Who audio The Wormery, the latter of which was co-authored with Magrs.

The Devil in Ms Wildthyme is as madcap and jaunty as its predecessor, Wildthyme at Large, with self-aware comments about plot construction, bizarre happenings such as Tom (Ortis Deley) finding straw coming out of his head like old stuffing, Panda (David Benson) developing a passionate nature, and an unhinged performance by Michael Hobbs as Dr Marwick.

In my previous review, I found myself comparing Wildthyme at Large to MJTV's Soldiers of Love series and remarking upon how various characters' voices reminded me of other people. I may as well continue the trend by stating that I thought Dr Marwick sounded rather like Teddy, SoL's deranged space dentist.

There are frequent references, in this and the previous episode, to Iris being a multiverse traveller, rather than merely a wanderer within any single universe. I wonder whether this is an attempt to establish the series as an entity distinct from Doctor Who (i.e. not necessarily set in the same reality) or a prepared get-out clause in case of any future continuity issues (such as the fact that Christopher Eccleston's Doctor claimed that all the other Time Lords have been wiped out - but then again, Iris has always been regarded as not quite a proper Time Lord). We shall have to wait and see.

Whether you approach this as a Who spin-off or as a new series with no such baggage, there's plenty of fun to be had in Wildthyme's world.

Richard McGinlay

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