When David Bradley appeared as William Hartnell in the TV special An Adventure in Space and Time the possibilities of him recreating the original era of Doctor Who became apparent to Big Finish. Subsequently, Bradley portrayed the First Doctor on television again last Christmas to help Peter Capaldi farewell his own take on the role in his swan song episode Twice Upon A Time. In an amazing, and unplanned, coincidence, Big Finish also released two stories with Bradley portraying the crotchety First Doctor.
Director Nicholas Briggs and writers Matt Fitton and Guy Adams have written two entertaining stories that reflect the original brief of the series with every space adventure being followed by an historical adventure set on Earth. Each story is presented as four 30-minute episodes, much like the original series.
In the behind-the-scenes interviews both Briggs and Bradley state that their goal was not to impersonate Hartnell (or the era) but to build on the original style and legacy. Bradley’s performance is a fine take on the original Time Lord although there is a lot of broken dialogue that does not really reflect Hartnell’s performance in the role. It is a minor point in what is a genuinely strong interpretation of the character.
Bradley is also joined by the three actors who portrayed the original cast in the Adventure in Space and Time telemovie. Jamie Glover makes a commanding Ian Chesterton whilst Jemma Powell and Claudia Grant serve their characters (Barbara Wright and Susan respectively) well. None of them sound like the original actors but that hardly matters when their performances are as strong as they are.
In The Destination Wars, the TARDIS crew find themselves up against the Master (played with menace by James Dreyfus) who is trying to use a civilisation for his own nefarious purposes. The second story is named The Great White Hurricane and is set during a great blizzard in New York in the late 1800s. There is no alien influence, just four people trying to get back to the TARDIS and being involved in the events of the time. The ending of one particular plot thread involving Barbara and Ian however, may sit a little uncomfortably for those who have suffered domestic abuse.
Both stories are well written and performed by the main and guest casts which also includes strong performances from Sian Reeves (Tanna), Deli Segal (Reena), Jackson Milner (Patrick), Cory English (Daniel), and Carolina Valdes (Rosalita). The sound design and music from Howard Carter greatly helps the story and engages the listener.
This is an entertaining set and fans of the First Doctor era as well as David Bradley’s recent performances on the TV show will delight in this set. Newer fans should enjoy this for the fun adventures that they are. Volume two will be released in July.
Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Rating out of 10: 8
Released by: Big Finish Productions
Release date: December 2017
RRP: $40 CD, $20 Digital Download
Headline montage at the top of this article was created by Futurism.