The Companion Chronicles series has been around for a fair while now and they make for interesting listening. Rather than focusing on the Doctor, it focuses on the ingenuity of those he travelled with. Whilst the Doctor is represented, the events of the story unfold through the eyes of a companion.
This set features companions that travelled with the Second Doctor, portrayed on television by Patrick Troughton, but also features Fourth Doctor companion Leela and UNIT series regular Captain Ruth Matheson.
Frazer Hines, apart from his always-youthful and charming reprisal of the role of Jamie McCrimmon that he started over 50 years ago, does a credible job of recreating the voice of the late Troughton. Original companions Polly and Zoe are played by their original actors, Anneke Wills and Wendy Padbury. Whilst they both struggle at times to recapture the energy of their younger voices, they still manage to engage the listener with their fine acting. Elliot Chapman does a reasonable version of Ben Jackson (originally portrayed by the late Michael Craze) and Victoria Waterfield is represented by various narrators in her story (original actress Deborah Watling, who passed away last year, is given the final words on her story disc in a very touching tribute).
Other cast members include Daphne Ashbrook (Ruth Matheson), Louise Jameson (Leela, and a very funny turn as Mrs De Winter), Matthew Brehner (Deacon) and Jo Woodcock (Marie).
The stories themselves, by Julian Richards, Rob Nisbet, John Pritchard and Tony Jones, range from average (The Curator’s Egg), to good (The Iron Maid/The Tactics of Defeat) to enjoyable (Dumb Waiter). None of the scripts represent the very best that Big Finish can do but given the limiting nature of the series (they play more as narrated audio adventures more than full cast audio dramas) it is not surprising that certain elements of good storytelling can be overlooked.
The direction by Helen Goldwyn and Lisa Bowerman is top drawer with action flowing and a good use of a decent sound and music mix courtesy of Russell McGee, David Roocroft and Robert Harvey. It is also nice to hear the composers talk about their creative process in the bonus interviews that round out the set.
This era of Doctor Who is a favourite amongst many fans (and future portrayers of the lead role) and this series brings back to life many of the elements that made those years memorable and tries to go further, which is to be commended. Fans will enjoy hearing the original cast recreate their roles but newcomers can also find much to enjoy on this set.
Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Rating out of 10: 8
Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: June 2018
RRP: $36 CD, $15 Digital Download