Books & Literature

Audiobook Review: Doctor Who: The Fifth Doctor Adventures: Forty 1, by Big Finish

SCI-FI: Celebrating four decades of the Fifth Doctor, with stories from across his timeline.

A celebration of the Peter Davison era of Doctor Who that pulls no punches and keeps the listener enthralled.

In January 1982, Peter Davison began his run as the Fifth Doctor. It was a massive change for the program which had been enjoying the talents of Tom Baker for seven years (still the longest continuous run by an actor in the role). The youthful Davison was fresh off his success as Tristan Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small and expectations were high. Forty years later, Big Finish celebrate the era with the first set of adventures to feature Davison’s Doctor since the monthly range ended last year. Appropriately, Forty 1 brings together not only elements of the Davison era but of Davison’s own personal history.

The Doctor finds himself jumping forward in his timeline to a point where his companions are Tegan and Nyssa (still played brilliantly by Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton respectively). Secrets of Telos by Matt Fitton is yet another sequel to the classic Troughton adventure The Tomb Of The Cybermen. This time, the Doctor and his crew find themselves on-board a spaceship just after the events of that story. What follows is a desperate plan by the Cybermen to revive themselves and the Doctor having to grasp the concept that his companions know far more about Cybermen than they should. And then there is the question of what has happened to Adric, which the girls seem reluctant to tell him …

This a rollicking adventure that keeps the momentum going while still allowing the characters to breathe. It also allows the listener to further explore the three main characters. The story is captivating even if a little overblown at times. The supporting cast includes Davison’s co-star from All Creatures in Christopher Timothy who, in this story, plays the role of Professor Parry superbly. Other members of the cast include Nicholas Briggs doing two styles of Cybermen voices, Barbara Flynn (who previously worked with Davison in the 1980s black comedy A Very Peculiar Practice) as the slightly deranged Professor Vansom and Ronan Summers as Captain Hopper.

The second story (God of War by Sarah Grochala) is a nod to the two-part historical that happened three times in the Davison era. This time, the Doctor is bounced backwards in his timeline to when his original crew (which now includes Adric) encounter the Ice Warriors in the time of the Vikings. There are some beautiful scenes between Davison’s Doctor and Adric—played wonderfully by Matthew Waterhouse—which are very well played by both actors. Briggs becomes an Ice Warrior for this story and he is well supported by another wonderful cast which includes Belinda Lang (who worked with Matthew Waterhouse just prior to him joining Doctor Who in the BBC adaptation of To Serve Them All My Days) as Revna, a woman who escapes death at the hands of her husband to raise her daughters on a remote island. This is a very powerhouse performance. Matilda Tucker as Inga is another strong performer here.

Director Ken Bentley weaves his usual magic over proceedings from the director’s chair keeping everybody in character and the mood and pace of each story flowing well. This is not an easy task as this was recorded during lockdown! Lee Adam’s sound design and Howard Carter’s music are excellent as always. Carter’s music is especially evocative of the era.

There is bonus material including some hilarious interviews with Davison and the cast where they share stories about working with each other (one particular anecdote involving Christopher Timothy on the first day of All Creatures is well worth hearing!) and there is a bonus short story called I, Kamelion which is also worth hearing.

This is a wonderful celebration of the Davison era and the second part of this set will be released in September.

Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Twitter: @Wagnerfan74

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: January 2022
Approx RRP: $38 CD, $17 Digital Download

More News

To Top