Big Finish need to pat themselves on the back with the unearthing and hiring of Jacob Dudman to not only narrate this release but to voice the titular role as portrayed on-screen by Matt Smith. It is hard to imagine any other actor, save perhaps Smith himself, performing the role with any more authority and realism.
Dudman’s portrayal of David Tennant’s Doctor in The Tenth Doctor Chronicles earlier this year highlighted how on-point his impersonations can be. Whilst his Tennant was certainly incredibly close to the original, it is with the Smith Doctor that Dudman really shines. Make no mistake, this no mere impersonation. Dudman inhabits the very essence of the Smith Doctor so well it is almost impossible to distinguish it from the original.
As with the previous set, these are four narrated adventures set in different parts along the Eleventh Doctor’s timeline. The Calendar Man by AK Benedict is set early in his regeneration when he was accompanied by Amy Pond, The Top Of The Tree by Simon Guerrier is set with the young Kazran Sardick (from Smith’s first Christmas special), The Light Keepers by Roy Gill sees the return of blue-skinned dealer Dorian Maldovar (portrayed here, as he was on-screen, by Simon Fisher-Becker) and False Coronets by Alice Cavender features Clara Oswald.
Whilst all four are entertaining, the final story is the most intriguing as it features author Jane Austen (portrayed with elegance and style by Nathalie Buscombe) in an adventure that was mentioned on-screen during Smith’s run. Guerrier’s tale is also worthy for its attempt to be different and create a tale that works much better in audio than it would on-screen. Other supporting cast are Eleanor Crooks (Olivia) and Danny Horn (Kazran Sardick). Whilst they all perform their roles well, it is Dudman who is the glue and spine of this production.
Directing this set, as she did the earlier Chronicles set, is Helen Goldwyn. She is very comfortable with keeping the pace going and keeping Dudman and his cast on their toes. The sound design by Richard Fox and Lauren Yason help bring these stories to life. She also provides the interviews with the cast after each story and proves to be a very good interviewer.
With both Tennant and Smith still working incredibly hard in their respective careers, Big Finish would be absolutely crazy to let Dudman go. The possibilities of where they can take these two Doctors with him at the helm are an exciting prospect and one that should not be squandered.
Fans of the Smith era will absolutely adore this set as it evokes the finest aspects of that era in Doctor Who history.
Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Rating out of 10: 10
Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: August 2018
RRP: $40 CD, $20 Digital Download