‘Doctor Who: Redacted – 2: Hysteria’ reviewed

Juno Dawson brings a fresh and unique voice to the Whoniverse, writes Andrew Creak.

Last week Doctor Who: Redacted made its triumphant debut on the BBC Sounds app, with its first episode SOS. Not only was my review overwhelmingly positive, but so was the reaction of what seemed like the whole of Doctor Who fandom; something you don’t see very often these days! But after its glorious beginnings, will the show continue to be the shining jewel in the Doctor Who crown? 

With everyone excited for the future of Doctor Who audio dramas; after the announcements yesterday at Big Finish Day; the excitement for this week’s Redacted was real. And as the only official BBC Doctor who production to release today, it has the limelight to itself, no sea devils, no Tegan or Ace, just our three podcasting friends, and their conspiracy podcast ‘The Blue Box Files’. 

Hysteria opens on the team recording their latest episode of their podcast. They discuss the strange phone call that Cleo received from a ‘mysterious journalist’, who in reality is the wonderful Rani Chandra. During this scene we get a nice little reference to the ‘Khans’ whose daughter is a cop, a nice little reference to Yasmin. 

During the recording, Abs discusses mass hysteria, and how hundreds of people recall Royal Hope Hospital disappearing and being teleported to the moon, a reference to the Doctor Who episode Smith and Jones.

Cleo tries to call Penny Carter from last week’s episode, during which there is a large amount of feedback, before cutting to silence. Moments later Cleo is back at her brother’s home, discussing their relationship with their mother, and their missing father. Cleo convinced her brother Jordan to join her in meeting Rani the next day.

Abby meets with Dr Oliver Morgenstern, who was at the Royal Hope Hospital during the events of Smith and Jones, but he is starting to believe that his experiences were not true, and that his belief of being on the moon with rhinos is hysteria, stating that his memory is hazy, and he doesn’t remember being on the moon any more. He mentions his friend Martha becoming obsessed with the Doctor, leading Abby to be worried about Cleo meeting Rani. For Abby, ‘The Blue Box Files’ are getting too real.

Cleo and Jordan arrive at a hotel to meet Rani, in a room that is charged for by the hour. Inside suite 13, Cleo find an empty room, when suddenly a holographic projection of Rani appears into the room. Rani is very cryptic about who she is and what she does. 

Rani announces that she has been tracking the ‘Blue Box Files’. Rani asks Cleo to get a tattoo saying ‘The Doctor in the Tardis’, Rani states there are only three people left who knew the Doctor. Cleo doesn’t believe she can help, but Rani encourages her to help, when suddenly a robotic voice breaks into Rani’s location, potentially killing Rani. The creature locates Cleo and Jordan’s location, and sets coordinates… They are next. 

The writing for this episode by Juno Dawson is once again brilliant, she brings to the whoniverse a fresh and unique voice which goes to once again prove that Doctor Who improves when it’s willing to change and diversify.

The sound design of this episode is an improvement, or perhaps it is the same as in SOS. Last week I was harsh about its standard when compared to productions by Big Finish, a critique I still believe to be valid, but since this time round we knew exactly what we were going to get, it allows the audience, by which I mean me, to enjoy the soundscape created by David Thomas.

Last week I didn’t really get into the directing. Directing for audio is hard, and through Redacted, Ella Watts and James Robinson show their mastery of the medium.

When I was reviewing last week’s audio I told myself I must stop feeling like I must give glowing reports to everything I review, which is why I feel great pleasure in not being able to find anything to critique about in this week’s instalment. 

I do wish that the BBC would promote this podcast more through the Doctor Who social media channels.  At the time of writing, there hasn’t been a post made to remind fans that episode two has been released, which follows on from the insult of it not being promoted after Legend of the Sea Devils aired last Sunday. This era of who has (unfairly in my opinion) been criticised for “bad publicity”, something I have been quick to argue against in the past, but when it comes to Redacted, it does lead you to wonder when the only promotion I’m seeing online is by the production’s talented crew. 

We cannot gauge the shows popularity due to the listening figures, to my understanding, not being made public. But from the reactions of fans online, this second instalment has gone down quite the treat. 

Hysteria brilliantly takes from what was established in last weeks episode, and throws us right into the adventure, and leaving us on a proper Doctor Who style cliff hanger. I can’t wait to see how Cleo and Jordon are going to get out of this one.

‘Doctor Who: Redacted’ is available to listen for free on BBC Sounds app and transcripts for those who are hard of hearing can be found on the ‘Doctor Who: Redacted’ webpage. Main cast: Cleo Proctor – Charlie Craggs, Abby McPhail – Lois Chimimba, Shawna Thompson – Holly Quin-Ankrah. Written by Juno Dawson. Produced by Ella Watts. Directed by Ella Watts and James Robinson. Executive Producer: James Robinson. A BBC Studios Production for BBC Sounds.

Andrew Creak is a freelancer in TV and Film production based in South Wales. As well as this they are a producer director in their own right through their production company Third Time Lucky Productions. Follow them on Twitter: @AndrewCreak


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