❉ Charlie Cragg’s performance as Cleo over these last five weeks has been amazing, writes Andrew Creak.
“The addition to the cast of Jemma Redgrave as Kate Stewart … starts to show that this epidemic of forgetting the Doctor is more serious than we may have imagined. How bad must things be if even Kate Stewart cannot remember our favourite hero?“
Having reached halfway through the audio saga of Doctor Who Redacted, and with the series starting to reveal more and more about what is going on, will this be the turning point in the narrative?
We open on the Blue Box Files gang being shoved into a locked cell after being kidnapped at the end of last week’s episode. Abby thinks that they have been kidnapped by aliens for crossing a line in their investigations and wonders, could this be how everyone has been going missing? Seperated from Abby and Cleo, Shawna is interrogated by the man who kidnapped them. He shows her newspapers, and the missing people reports are no longer there.
The man tells Shawna that he and his organisation are there to help good people, and threatens Shawna’s grandmother. Shawna realises he isn’t in charge and is being told what to say by someone behind a mirror, but he brushes this aside and asks her, “What do you know about the Doctor” to which she responds “Doctor Who?”
When Abby is in turn taken away to be interrogated, she asks the name of the man holding these interrogations, and he tells her his name is Miller. She questions him on what he is doing on earth and asks if he is an alien. Back in the cell, Cleo is calm, which confuses Shawna. Cleo explains how this whole situation has given her hope that she’d see her dad again, and that maybe her mum wasn’t as bad as she thought. She slowly spirals, ending with saying that maybe it would be better if she disappears too.
Miller plays Abby a clip from the podcast, and there is the sound of interference within the clip, similar to when the Doctor tried call Cleo back in episode one. Miller points out that all the people the blue box files have interviewed went missing shortly thereafter. He informs her that the Doctor would never kidnap people or erase them from time, and asks “what did you do to the Doctor?”
When it’s Cleo’s time in the spotlight, being her fabulously sassy self, this makes Miller’s job a little different. Miller mentions how Cleo is from the Powell Estate, and how her brother Jordan is missing. After his usual attempts of accusing Cleo of being part of this conspiracy, Cleo asks if Miller knows what’s happened to Jordan. Miller opens up about how the Doctor should be there helping, and that it would seem they are behind it all somehow. Cleo is shocked that Miller knows of the Doctor, and the two are relieved to have found someone else who knows of the Doctor’s existence.
As Miller begins to open up, the interference noise returns and seems to be affecting Miller, who suddenly disappears. Cleo screams for help, and Kate Stewart barges in and gets Cleo to explain what happens to her as, according to Kate, there was never a man in there with her.
Kate explains to Cleo, Abby and Shawna how she is from UNIT, and asks them “What is the blue box?” Cleo explains the TARDIS and the Doctor. A soldier called Roberts pulls a gun on the girls, and Kate tries to stop him, threatening him with a courtmartial, but this doesn’t stop him.
Cleo realises that Roberts is running scared because he and UNIT don’t know what to ask or what information they need to find out what is going on. Cleo stands up to him, as she realises that she and her friends have the upper hand, that they are the only people who can help sort what is going on in the world.
The standout scene for me, which I knew it would be before I even heard it, was the interrogation between Cleo and Miller. Charlie Cragg’s performance as Cleo over these last five weeks has been amazing. If this were a visual series I’d be screaming for her to get a BAFTA for her portrayal.
Having Cleo witness a “redaction in action” was the perfect choice character-wise, as we got to hear the relief and joy in her voice when she meets someone else who remembers, but then instantly loses them too. It was powerful, and the sound design at this moment was outstanding.
The addition of Jemma Redgrave as Kate at the end of this episode helps solidify the prediction that these men in uniform are in fact UNIT but also starts to show that this epidemic of forgetting the Doctor is more serious than we may have imagined. How bad must things be if even Kate Stewart cannot remember our favourite hero?
For the halfway point of the series, it was an interesting choice to go for an episode of interrogations that reveal little new to the narrative. Sasha Sienna, another writer new to the series, is clearly very talented, making what could be a very boring twenty minutes of interrogations into an episode that you can’t help but love. After the high octane thrills of last week’s episode, this week’s episode wasn’t quite as exciting but the dialogue is rich and realistic, and really feels like the three best friends are trapped together.
I am hopeful that from next week we will start to learn more in each instalment taking us at a steady pace as we approach the finale’s climax over the next five weeks. Is it too much to hope for Kate becoming more of a full time character? Can you imagine the sass and power in scenes where Cleo and Kate work side by side? They would be unstoppable!
Overall this week’s episode was another good instalment in Juno Dawson’s epic saga.
❉ ‘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