Books & Literature

Audiobook Review: The Outlaws, by Big Finish

SCI-FI: Brand new adventures for the Doctor and Dodo.

The first set to feature a new First Doctor is a welcome addition to the Big Finish catalogue.

Big Finish continue the reboot of their main Doctor Who ranges with the first set of adventures to feature Stephen Noonan’s portrayal of the First Doctor (following on from David Bradley’s exceptional portrayal from earlier volumes). Like his predecessor, Noonan is out to capture the flavour of the First Doctor and is not out to do an impression of the original actor, William Hartnell. In this series of two adventures, he is joined by Lucy Cornelius as Dodo (originally played by the late Jackie Lane) who also aims for a broader approach to her Dodo rather than a direct impression.

The main story in this set is The Outlaws by Lizbeth Myles—one of the best writers Big Finish have in their roster. Knowing the love Myles has for the Hartnell era makes this story feel like it could have come off a 1960s typewriter in the BBC offices back in the day. In this historical four-part adventure, the Doctor and Dodo find themselves in Lincoln in the 13th century where the rich Sheriff Nicholaa de la Haye (played with wonderful vigour by Glynis Barber) is battling with a band of outlaws headed by William of Berkshire. However, William is not the true leader of the gang and when a meddlesome monk appears it soon becomes apparent that a plan to wreak revenge on the Doctor is on the cards …

Rufus Hound chews up every line of dialogue beautifully as the Meddling Monk and his banter with Noonan’s Doctor is very well realised. Christian Edwards makes for a much-layered William of Berkshire and also has some ripping dialogue with Hound’s Monk. This is a story that goes along at an excellent pace, slowing down where necessary and making sure the climax is worth the wait.

This set concludes with the short two-parter The Miniaturist by Lizzie Hopley. This sees the Doctor and Dodo land at an exploration site in North Yorkshire. There have been mysterious disappearances and it is not until the TARDIS goes missing that the Doctor uncovers the hiding place of an alien being who is very much alone.

The supporting cast for this slight story is jammed with exceptional talent. Annette Badland plays The Miniaturist with much depth and acting legend Paul Copley is formidable as the gruff but perplexed groundsman Mick Huff. Yazmin Mwanza as Professor Medra also works very well alongside Noonan’s Doctor (who struggles a lot with Doctor’s less raging self in this story for some reason).

Nicholas Briggs does a stellar job in the director’s chair, a job made easier by the excellent scripts and the cast at his disposal. Toby Hrycek-Robinson’s work on the sound and music design is wonderfully evocative. There are also bonus interviews at the conclusion of each story.

Whilst Noonan’s performance will no doubt improve even further as the series goes on, this is a decent first step and fans of the era will enjoy the nostalgia.

Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Twitter: @Wagnerfan74

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

Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: April 2022
Approx RRP: $35 CD, $17 Digital Download

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