BBC’s cult science fiction show Dr Who premiered in 1963, featuring seven actors in the title role over its initial 26 year run. Through the passing of time, not all of those original actors are with us anymore, but that hasn’t stopped the almighty Big Finish Productions from reviving those early Doctors and their companions for all new stories.
Doctor Who: The Early Adventures are a series of enhanced book readings, featuring original actors reprising their roles in a multi-voiced narrative. Each story stands alone as a unique adventure through time and space.
Season One focussed on the original Doctor, once played by the late William Hartnell, and his original companions: teenage granddaughter Susan (Carole Ann Ford) and her teachers Ian Chesterton (William Russell) and Barbara Wright (a role originated by Jacqueline Hill and now played by Jemma Powell). The second season provided four more stories, this time focussing on the second Doctor (originally played by Patrick Troughton), and his companions Jamie, Victoria and Polly.
Season three of Dr Who: The Early Adventures kicked off this month with the excellent adventure, The Age of Endurance, written by Nick Wallace and directed by Ken Bentley. Returning us to the original gang, the Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara, the story unfolds when the TARDIS lands on a spaceship in the middle of a war, throwing the heroes into immediate chaos and danger.
The audio drama blends traditional narration with action, sound effects and a brilliant underscore by sound designer Toby Hrycek- Robinson. Like the classic Dr Who series, the story is told over four episodes, running approximately 2 hours in total.
Despite the scope available to audio drama, Wallace channels the original black and white television series by setting his story in a claustrophobic, limited setting. This adds to the tension and excitement, which is ably realised by the familiar cast. With more than 50 years passed since the two original actors played their characters on television, they continue to sound just as youthful and innocent today. The joint narration by Ford and Russell bounces between the two nicely, adding to the experience.
Doctor Who: The Early Adventures is a wonderful trip down memory lane for fans of the original Dr Who television series, and a stellar introduction for those who have joined the Whoverse only since the modern series began broadcasting.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 8
Released by: Big Finish Productions
Release Date: September 2016
RRP: $24.50 CD or $10.99 Digital Download