Books & Literature

Audiobook Review: Doctor Who: The First Doctor Adventures Volume 5, by Big Finish

SCI-FI: The TARDIS has barely landed in an alien sewer when a distant scream sends Susan racing to give aid, and the crew split up.

Another excellent volume from this series that sees the rebooted TARDIS crew venture out for more exciting adventures.

It has been over a year since Volume 4 of this fun series was released featuring the reinvention of the very first Doctor Who TARDIS team. This welcome next instalment sees the crew return in two more four-part adventures—one based in science fiction and one purely historical.

David Bradley keeps his magnificent portrayal as the crotchety First Doctor on a fine keel as he navigates the realms of space and time with his granddaughter Susan (Claudia Grant), along with teachers Ian Chesterton (Jamie Glover) and Barbara Wright (Jemma Powell). The principal cast is a well-oiled machine at this point and maintains high level of respect for the original actors’ performance while making the roles very much their own. 

The first story in this volume, For The Glory of Urth by Guy Adams, is a bleak, dystopian affair that sees the Doctor and his companions arrive on Urth which is under a dictatorship ruled by the menacing Daddy Dominus (a scary Clive Wood) and the equally menacing Mummy Martial (Amanda Hurwitz). As the TARDIS crew goes deeper into the society, they soon find out that not all is as it seems and it comes down to Susan to save the day.

Adams’ script, while entertaining, is also fairly thin on plot and several scenes drag on far longer than they should. That being said, the cast does a great job at keeping the suspense going throughout the four episodes.

The second story, The Hollow Crown by Sarah Grochala, sees the TARDIS land in Shoreditch in 1601 where the crew seizes the opportunity to see a Shakespeare play and hopefully meet the man himself. What they ultimately wind up in is a mass conspiracy to kill Queen Elizabeth as well as becoming involved in a family spat between Shakespeare and his son. There is a lovely supporting cast here highlighted by Nicholas Asbury as Shakespeare and Wendy Craig as Queen Elizabeth I. The plot is a little far-fetched—especially if you are an aficionado of the period—and it plays a little loose with the actual events that took place around that time. Nevertheless, it is still a fairly enjoyable piece.

Ken Bentley continues his outstanding work in the director’s chair and does his absolute best to keep the story exciting and interesting, which, it must be said, is not always an achievable goal. Howard Carter’s sound and music design is an absolute highlight of the set. There are also bonus interviews and music suites included as part of the package.

This series is still very much a surprisingly good product with scripts that are above average and performances that come from the top drawer. Fans of previous volumes will no doubt enjoy this set as much as the others and fans new to this series will be more than happy with this time capsule of the early years of the program.

Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Twitter: @Wagnerfan74

Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: April 2021
Approx RRP: $46 CD, $20 Digital Download

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