Doctor Who
Excelis Decays

Starring: Sylvester McCoy
Big Finish Productions
RRP 9.99
ISBN 1 903654 65 3, BFPDWCDEX3
Available now

Returning to the city-state of Excelis two centuries after his last visit, the Doctor discovers a vicious totalitarian regime at war with the rest of the planet Artaris, and exploiting a drugged and broken underclass...

Excelis Decays brings this trilogy to a conclusion of sorts, although a coda starring Lisa Bowerman's Bernice Summerfield - The Plague Herds of Excelis - is still to come.

Recurring guest star Anthony Stewart Head modifies his performance yet again as the latest incarnation of the villainous Warlord Grayvorn, who is now known as Lord Vaughan Sutton. His higher-pitched voice clearly indicates the immortal character's deepening insanity.

The cast also includes Ian Collier, who previously lent his superbly guttural vocal talents to the role of Omega in 1983's Arc of Infinity, and Yee Jee Tso, who played Chang Lee in the 1996 TV movie. It has to be said that Tso, who didn't exactly shine in his under-written role in the movie, doesn't really distinguish himself here either, injecting little feeling into his performance as a young major. Tso could also have done with raising the volume of his voice a little at times, as could Collier and McCoy, because quite often their dialogue is lost beneath some rather intrusive sound effects.

Although writer Craig Hinton has managed to tie up all the loose ends from the previous two Excelis stories - making a connection, for example, with the zombies in Excelis Dawns - parts of his own narrative fail to make complete sense, and not just because the sound effects are too loud. The dialogue towards the end of the drama does not describe fully enough the actions and whereabouts of certain characters, such as how the Doctor manages to free a certain prisoner. I have listened to the relevant tracks several times, but I still haven't got the entire sense of what is supposed to be happening.

Not a very satisfying conclusion, then.

Richard McGinlay