Doctor Who – Once and Future: Two’s Company

❉ This big, rompy character mashup is straightforward, silly, a good deal of fun, and never once outstays its welcome.

“…this is a script that gets that the fun in Doctor Who’s anniversary tradition of mashing a bunch of characters from across the show’s history is the character interactions, and if there’s one thing Lisa McMullin is absolutely best at, it’s making the characters’ voices shine through and giving them fun things to do.

We’re halfway there! Big Finish Productions is starting to feel like a countdown to the Doctor Who sixtieth anniversary now, with the Once and Future celebratory event reaching its midpoint this month. Two’s Company marks the fourth of seven stories set to release this year to get the revels going, and does so with the classic Doctor Who anniversary tradition of mashing a bunch of characters from across the show’s history to see what happens.

Fortunately, this month it’s Lisa McMullin on hand on scripting duty, a reliable newer voice with Big Finish who, if there’s one thing I’d say she’s absolutely best at, it’s making the characters’ voices shine through and giving them fun things to do. So Two’s Company makes time to romp around with Lady Christina de Souza (Michelle Ryan), Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri), the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker), and Harry Sullivan (recast with impressionist Christopher Naylor), plus a surprise returning Big Finish villain. And crucially, it makes sure you remember how fun that is.

So yes, this is utterly indulgent. It’s Christina de Souza and Jackie Tyler teaming up as the headline, of course it’s indulgent. Through yet another character turning up in an off-screen cameo, Jackie Tyler ends up with a job cleaning up after the aristocratic cat burglar, which turns into a fast friendship worth the price of admission to hear. In many ways this is the most fun part of the whole hour, just enjoying two lovely larger than life personalities bringing each other fits of laughter. From there they’re drawn into a zany plot involving an auction, an obligatory heist, and Harry Sullivan being a gullible imbecile, while the Sixth Doctor deals with an imposter and, possibly more dire a threat, Jackie’s advances. It’s almost a shame this even has to have a plot! But sure enough, Big Finish ring in the event with the surprise returning villain taking up a lot of the focus (the title is a giveaway if you know your Big Finish lore).

Colin Baker (Big Finish Productions)

The plot that results is fairly standard fare. Once again, it can barely be said that Once and Future has a story arc for all that’s introduced, resolved, or advanced here, with the Doctor still randomly degenerating into other incarnations as a result of some sort of weapon and hopping around time and space looking for answers. Rest assured, he doesn’t get them, and this event is just going to keep chugging on in earnest. Meanwhile, the Time Lord renegade villain does get to show an exciting new angle, but there’s not much space to take it as far as one might hope. Their arc here does end on a very interesting note, but I can’t see the current Big Finish creative direction pushing it as far as I’d want. I want to see characters grow and change, but this is more about looking back at who they’ve been and playing for a bit than bringing them somewhere new or heavy. For all the fun it’s hard to escape that a lot of the plot points here are mandated. Introduce this, reference that,memory-wipe them,leave that character there,it never quite gets to breathe and feel like a full adventure story of its own.

Fortunately, this is a script that nonetheless gets that the fun is the character interactions, and holds off on a lot of the heavier plotting—not that there is much—until late in the game. Each character pairing has a plot purpose, but more than that, they’re extended comedy routines, from the obvious delight of the leading lady pairing to Harry Sullivan having to juggle two Time Lords by being basically the worst liar on earth. And it lingers on the moments you want it to. I still probably couldn’t tell you anything about the magic space element this plot revolves around, but I sure do remember the mental image of Christina driving around a motorcycle with the Sixth Doctor and Jackie Tyler in the sidecar.

If the dominant mode for this anniversary event is going to be big rompy character mashups, without huge arc developments or a major serialised plot, Two’s Company shows how to do it best month to month. It’s straightforward, silly, a good deal of fun, and never once outstays its welcome. In short, it’s exactly the sort of thing Lisa McMullin is a great fit for, and it’s exciting to know she’ll be back for another round. Two’s Company left me wanting more of Jackie Tyler and Christina de Souza bursting out into fits of laughter at whatever daft thing Jackie says next, maybe accompanied by a few good aliens. But as far as Once and Future as a larger project goes: I am ready for the next trick.


Director: Helen Goldwyn
Writer: Lisa McMullin
Script Editor: Matt Fitton
Producer: David Richardson
Executive Producers: Nicholas Briggs, Jason Haigh-Ellery

Duration: 66 minutes approx.

Released: 16 August July 2023, exclusively from the Big Finish website.

❉  Released 20 July 2023, ‘Doctor Who – Once and Future: Two’s Company’ was released 16 August 2023, exclusively from the Big Finish website and is available to own as a single-disc collector’s edition CD (+ download for just £10.99), or digital download only (for just £8.99). Doctor Who fans worldwide can pre-order a bundle of all eight Once and Future audio adventures for just £72 (on collector’s edition CD and download) or £60 (download only).

❉ 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.

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