❉ This meeting of the Fourth and Tenth Doctor delivers everything you want and then some.
“…for all the blockbuster noise, the focus is sharp, in the way the best multi-Doctor stories are. Every character, every emotional journey, and every dastardly Dalek blast exists to highlight these Doctors’ differences, at very specific places in their lives, and explore how their meeting each other pushes them to grow.”
Tom Baker. David Tennant.
If you’ve heard of one Doctor Who lead of old, it’s the former. If you’ve heard of one of the new era, it’s the latter. And given you’re reading a review of a Doctor Who tie-in audio drama right now, you’re definitely well acquainted with these icons. So, you know, why not put them together? It’s the obvious thing.
Big Finish has this month come out with that irresistible matchup, in its first installment of Out of Time, a series pitting David Tennant against various classic Doctors. And that premise alone is surely gonna sell a lot of copies. Fans like multi-Doctor stories, and Doctors don’t come much bigger than David Tennant and Tom Baker’s Tenth and Fourth Doctors! But, again, you’re reading this review. You know that. You want to know how well it delivers.
Well, for people who still aren’t entirely sold by the fact that David Tennant and Tom Baker’s Doctors are meeting, I’m pleased to say that Out of Time delivers everything you want and then some. The script, by Big Finish stalwart Matt Fitton, doesn’t provide much in the way of complex plotting, but it doesn’t need to. Instead, it creates a straightforward setup that it fills to the most in every detail: there’s not a single beat here that feels like less than the best version of itself.
And for all the blockbuster noise, the focus is sharp, in the way the best multi-Doctor stories are. Every character, every emotional journey, and every dastardly Dalek blast exists to highlight these Doctors’ differences, at very specific places in their lives, and explore how their meeting each other pushes them to grow. The Tenth Doctor benefits most from this, his emotional state providing the story’s throughline. It comes at one of the hardest and least explored times in his life, in the aftermath of The Waters of Mars and the lead-up to his death, which means he’s acting a bit less like the Doctor we know and love. This is a man who no longer believes he should have people to stop him making the big calls, crashing straight into a Fourth Doctor who just got voted President of Gallifrey and decided to run off for more adventures instead. As a result, the story at heart is one of the Doctor meeting his past, and being gently reminded of who he is at heart, and will continue to be even after this body has died. But rest assured, he gets his victories in against his past self, as well, especially when it comes to contrasting the incarnations’ people skills.
And there are other people in this! It can’t just be David Tennant and Tom Baker talking for an hour, there does need to be more of a story than that. Most prominent is the character of Jora, played sweetly by Kathryn Dysdale, a woman on the run from both personal baggage and a whole lot of Daleks. In part, she’s here to contrast the two Doctors’ attitudes toward a potential companion figure, which is rewarding in itself. But she’s also got a story of her own, which drives the episode. It would be very easy for her struggles to feel like an unwelcome distraction from the headliner team-up, but her journey, like everything here, is efficiently written and deftly executed, with enough triumphs and heartbreaks to feel like a valuable addition to the story.
Rounding off the whole thing is the Daleks, and I’ll just jump right in with it: this is the most fun I’ve had with the Daleks on audio in ages. It’s not that they’re doing anything particularly new or radical, just that the execution of their role in this straightforward action plot is delicious. Matt Fitton provides the pepperpots with some of the most delightful dialogue they’ve ever had. These are absolutely the snarky fanatics of the Russell T Davies era on television, and they are a delight, both tremendously entertaining and brutally chilling. Nicholas Briggs tears into the material he’s given with gusto, making every line count, and showcasing his versatility with both standard Daleks and a wonderfully rumbly, menacing Supreme.
I could go on, but really, it’s the same point to make on every front. This story takes a straightforward premise and fills it to the brim with joyful details. There’s an exuberance to every line and every performance that’s absolutely infectious, and kudos must be given to Tom Baker, David Tennant, Matt Fitton, Nicholas Briggs, and all the rest of the cast and crew. Even the sound design and score bring their A-game, with composer Howard Carter bringing back his motifs from the Tenth Doctor Adventures range in wonderful ways to underscore the action.
Out of Time isn’t going to blow you away with its complexity or challenge you as a listener. But I can absolutely guarantee you, if the names “David Tennant” and “Tom Baker” in any way bring a smile to your face, you will have a blast. Whether you listen to Big Finish on the regular, or just like the sound of this one, I would happily recommend it. Out of Time is a wonderful time.
DOCTOR WHO: OUT OF TIME
Duration: 60 minutes approx.
Released: August 2020, exclusively from the Big Finish website.
Director: Nicholas Briggs
Script Editor: Guy Adams
Senior Producer: David Richardson
Written by: Matt Fitton
Executive Producers: Nicholas Briggs, Jason Haigh-Ellery
❉ ‘Doctor Who: Out of Time 1′, written by Matt Fitton, is now available to own as a collector’s edition CD (for just £10.99) or a digital download (for just £8.99) exclusively HERE. Please note: all purchases made through the website will unlock a bonus download of extended behind-the-scenes extras. Big Finish listeners can save money by pre-ordering the bundle, containing all three volumes in the Doctor Who: Out of Time series, for just £27 (as a collector’s edition CD) or £24 (as a download).
❉ Kevin Burnard is a writer, filmmaker, and podcaster. He can usually be found watching TV and tie-in media, tweeting about TV and tie-in media at @scribblesscript, or frequently, both simultaneously. Backflips are sometimes involved.