Books & Literature

Audiobook Review: Doctor Who: The Third Doctor Adventures, Volume 7, by Big Finish

SCI-FI: Two brand new adventures for the Third Doctor, Liz Shaw and Sarah Jane Smith.

Another solid effort from Big Finish at recreating the Jon Pertwee era of the show.

One year after the previous volume in this set of successful audio adventures, Big Finish has gifted us with the next volume in the remarkable series featuring Tim Treloar’s take on the Third Doctor. Over the last few years, Treloar’s Third Doctor (much like David Bradley’s version of the First Doctor) has managed to find a life of its own. This volume has opened up the doors to two eras of the Pertwee years that have been largely untouched in previous sets.

Whereas previous volumes have utilised the character of Jo Grant (played by the still very much alive Katy Manning), this volume has introduced a healthy dose of nepotism in the form of Daisy Ashford portraying the Third Doctor’s first companion, Dr. Liz Shaw (originally played by Ashbrook’s mother, Caroline John) and his final companion, Sarah Jane Smith, portrayed by Sadie Miller (daughter of the much-missed Elisabeth Sladen who originated the role). Both ladies are accomplished actresses in their own right and they bring much to their respective roles (which both have played before in previous audios from Big Finish). This is much more than stunt casting and Big Finish is to be commended for making sure the legacy of both original performances is still honoured.

Things get off to a very traditional start with the first story, The Unzal Invasion by Mark Wright. This sees UNIT on the brink of a major shake-up with Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (voiced to perfection once again by Jon Culshaw) and his men being replaced by a new hit squad under the direction of Sgt. Attah (a wonderful performance by Mischa Malcolm). Elsewhere, Liz and the Doctor are working on a new system of radar to allow for early detection of alien invasions. The two worlds collide soon enough and the Doctor will have to put his sanity on the line to stop an insidious invasion from occurring. 

Despite some lulls in the action in the middle episodes, this moves along at a fairly brisk pace and the listener is also treated to a cameo from Bessie—the Doctor’s beloved Edwardian car.

The second story, The Gulf by Tim Foley, sees the Doctor and Sarah Jane venture to an ocean planet with a toxic purple sea. Finding themselves on an abandoned rig that has now become an artistic retreat, it soon transpires that the artists have been using the toxic water as paint. Once again, the Doctor is forced to put his life on the line in order to save the planet and the inhabitants on it.

The story is fairly thin on the ground and struggles to maintain interest over the four episodes but a solid supporting cast including Lucy Goldie (Laurel), Bethan Walker (Lynette) and the legendary Wendy Craig (Marta) bring solid performances to complement the leads.

Throughout both stories, Nicholas Briggs directs and provides the music for this series as he has done in the past. As noted in earlier reviews, his love of this era shines through and there are many subtle (and not so subtle) nods to this era—this includes a tip of the hat to the tacky single “I Am The Doctor” that Pertwee recorded in the ‘70s! Benji Clifford and Luke Pietnik also provide a top-shelf sound mix throughout.

This is a remarkable series that continues to enthral audiences who enjoy the Pertwee era of Doctor Who. Long-time fans will get a kick out of hearing the next generations of Liz Shaw and Sarah Jane Smith revitalise the roles made famous by their parents and Tim Treloar continues to impress with his rendition of the Pertwee Doctor.

Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Twitter: @Wagnerfan74

Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: May 2021
Approx RRP: $65 CD, $30 Digital Download

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