Audiobook Review: Doctor Who: The Early Adventures 5.4: The Crash Of The UK-201, by Big Finish

When the First Doctor’s companion, Vicki, finds herself on the spaceship which ultimately crashed and led to her first encounter with the Doctor, she decides to change the course of history by saving the ship.

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The dilemma of changing time to suit you is something that has fascinated the writers of Doctor Who since the first season of the television show in 1963. At that time the Doctor stated emphatically that time could not be re-written – “not one line!”. In this entry of The Early Adventures series, companion Vicki ignores this advice at her peril.

The scene is set when Vicki (played, as she was originally some 55 years ago, by Maureen O’Brien) finds herself on the spaceship which ultimately crashed and led to her first encounter with the Doctor. She decides to change the course of history by saving the ship which leads to a whole series of complex decisions that ultimately make her realise that the Doctor was right.

This is a wonderful adventure that is highlighted by the ageless performances of both O’Brien and original TV actor Peter Purves reprising his role as fellow companion, Steven Taylor. Neither sound any different from their younger selves and it is remarkable. Purves also gives a passable impression of William Hartnell’s Doctor in the few scenes that the Doctor is in.

The two leads are well supported by a cast of wonderful performers including Carol Starks (Captain Odessa Grey), Jemma Churchill (Carmen Scheffler), Arthur Hughes (Lieutenant Thorpe), Stephen Fewell (Jeran Dalton), and Eve Webster (Carla/Maria Dalton). Lisa Bowerman directs the adventure with her usual panache, showing deft skill at manoeuvring around the various timelines that permeate this story. She is helped by an excellent sound mix from Toby Hrycek-Robinson who also provides us with the atmospheric music that accompanies the action.

John Dorney’s script hits all the right emotional beats for three and a half episodes and works to its climax well however, there is not quite the emotional “punch” that this story deserves and the ending seems like a complete cop-out.

As a bonus there is a selection of music from the story and some  interviews with the cast and crew.

This is a very generous release in terms of price, and listeners will be quite entertained by this powerful story that goes far beyond anything that could have been realised in the early years of the show. Doctor Who fans will certainly find this a wonderful addition to the Big Finish canon.

Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Twitter: @Wagnerfan74

Rating out of 10: 8

Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: December 2018
RRP: $26.50 CD, $11 Digital Download

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