‘Doctor Who: Redacted – 6: Recruits’ reviewed

  Andrew Creak on week six of Juno Dawson’s epic saga, which sees Ingrid Oliver reprising her role as Osgood.

“I really feel that the chemistry between Cleo, Abby and Shawna has developed so much during the series that right now it truly feels that these podcasters have been friends for years, and I pray to Juno Dawson that after Redacted we get to hear them in further adventures.

The start of this week’s instalment in the ongoing adventures of our new favourite trio in the Whoniverse was rather fun, opening with a hilariously old-fashioned recruitment film introducing people to UNIT, which is played to ‘The Blue Box Files’ gang. This is a brilliant addition to UNIT lore as it’s exactly the kind of induction film an establishment organisation like UNIT would have had. The running joke of the gang responding ‘Who?’ when Cleo mentions the Doctor is somehow still funny, in a dad joke kind of way. Six weeks in you’d think we’d be fed up with it by now, but no it’s still fun!

In this week’s episode we get to hear Ingrid Oliver reprising her role as UNIT’s science geek Osgood. With Kate Stewart also ‘redacted’ at the end of the previous week’s episode, Osgood is now in charge. Osgood shows the Blue Box gang objects from UNIT’s Black Archive (introduced along with Osgood in 2013’s The Day Of The Doctor) that they have no record of, no recollection of what they are or where they come from. 862 objects are listed in the archive’s database, though 97 are missing. One of the items Osgood shows them are Adipose diet pills, which you may recall The Blue Box Files investigated back in episode 1.

Osgood admits to being a fan of ‘The Blue Box Files’ which surprises Abby, as she’s hitherto only had negative feedback about the podcast. When Abby hints that she wants a job at UNIT, Osgood says she thinks she’d be a great fit in the organisation. We are introduced to Joel, the warehouse archivist, who takes Cleo and Shawna through the collection’s database, and we hear the redacted feedback noise again. Shawna finds records of moon rocks from the events of Smith and Jones, evidence of Slitheen, references to ‘Bad Wolf’ (“sounds like an emo band”) and 862 corrupted files are marked in red. Cleo asks about her dad and brother, but there’s nothing on the system, and when they search ‘the Doctor’ the redacted sound blasts again.

Joel shows Cleo and Shawna a sonic mascara device, a nice twist on Sarah Jane Smith’s sonic lipstick. The mascara uses sound waves to blow things up, so a bit more aggressive than Sarah Jane’s device. Cleo films a video to share as part of the podcast, by blowing up a can of Cola. Joel joins in with the fun, and this is a really fun part of the series, as it’s the first time we get to hear the gang chill, have fun, and be in the moment. Joel’s character is hilarious, and brilliantly played by Ken Cheng, who is also the writer of this week’s episode.

Cleo finds a device, and on the other end it’s the Doctor, and for the first time the Doctor and Cleo are able to talk! It is so exciting to hear Jodie, our current Doctor. The line starts to break down as the Doctor tries to explain what is going on, but the Doctor manages to tell Cleo to meet Madame Vastra.

Shawna brings over a part of a Dalek to show Cleo. Cleo has seen a Dalek before, but she can’t remember when. She’s scared of it but she doesn’t know why. Cleo asks Joel what a Dalek is. Joel doesn’t think he can tell her, and mentions there’s a storage room that he shouldn’t let them go to but allows Cleo and Shawna to sneak in.

En route, Cleo wonders why all this is happening to her and her family, when they are just ordinary people. Shawna comforts her, reminding her that their podcast is there to help show people like her that someone cares.

Rather than a cliffhanger, this week’s episode ends on an emotional scene which really hits home as they find the storage room is full of clothes and boxes with people’s names on. Cleo and Shawna go through the boxes, and the enormity of what they are seeing doesn’t pass them by. Shawna finds a box with Cleo’s dad’s name on, confirmation at last that he is in fact dead. Inside is his wedding ring, gloves and clothes that still smell like him. Cleo is shocked and believes that UNIT are lying to them. Shawna says they should go, but Abby refuses, saying she wants to stay, she wants to make a difference and save people. Shawna and Cleo leave, upset by the actions of Abby and convinced that UNIT killed Cleo’s dad and are and playing games with them all.

I really must praise the sound design and soundscapes of this week’s instalment. Those who have read my previous reviews will remember the sound design of episode one was something I criticised, not as being bad, but standard for a basic radio play. But in this week’s episode the atmospherics and the music work together so beautifully that the emotional tones translate so well to the listener’s ears.

I really feel that the chemistry between Cleo, Abby and Shawna has developed so much during the series that right now it truly feels that these podcasters have been friends for years, and I pray to Juno Dawson that after Redacted we get to hear them in further adventures. Surely they’d make a perfect new ‘fam’ for 13 should she ever get her own series with Big Finish, or even better another BBC Sounds series where they are the leads, perhaps working for UNIT, Torchwood or their own freelance organisation. Could we even hope that RTD could use them in his second era of the show? That is probably too much to ask for, but we can but wish!

I implore everyone who has yet to listen to Redacted to download BBC Sounds and enjoy this brilliant world created by Juno Dawson and realised by Ella Watts and the cast. It’s not often that I hear a series and have no real criticisms of any aspect of the actual show, but this amazing team of writers, actors and creatives keep bringing it every week, and we can only be in awe at their talents.

‘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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