❉ Sarah Sutton deftly recreates Nyssa in this tale from the Time War.
A Heart on Both Sides is a rather intriguing snippet of a story. Nyssa, years after her departure from the Doctor in Terminus, is still traversing the cosmos healing the sick. She and her companion end up on the planet Reeve. Reeve, once a purple paradise, is now a strategically vital planet for the Time Lords (and others) in the Time War. When one of the refineries on the planet explodes, all manner of hell breaks loose. Naturally, the Time Lords (who have been rather hostile to the locals of late) are blamed for the incident. Nyssa cares for the wounded as the search for the saboteur is rages on. Enter the Doctor! Though, things are never quite as they seem…
Overall, it’s a nice Short Trip that gives a little colour to the background of the Time War, plus it’s wonderful pointing out some of the more interesting differences between the Eighth Doctor and the one Nyssa traveled with in her time. Outside the usual variances between the incarnations, he’s now been changed by the war. He’s wearier, and he’s now actively going back in time to change the past. There’s a lot of talk of ‘fixed points in time’, and he says what he does to justify the actions in his eyes, but make no mistake…he’s interfering. The ending note too, hints at the Doctor having feelings toward Nyssa. The Eighth Doctor, more romantic in nature, is absolutely less reserved with his feelings than the Fifth Doctor ever was. It certainly made Nyssa ponder the question. Speaking of that…
There’s a lot here that’s left unsaid. Due to the brevity of the format, that’s to be expected, but I did feel a tad disappointed concerning the Eighth Doctor and Nyssa meeting up. She never actually knows it’s him. She’s an intelligent Trakenite who can put two and two together; however, we’re left pondering as much as Nyssa is at the end. Since this Doctor knows of Nyssa’s fate, I expected that to come into play here as well.
These are minor niggles though, and certainly shouldn’t be a deterrent from listening to this audio play. Sarah Sutton deftly recreates Nyssa (and she has marvellous voice control when she plays the younger version of her character!) and aptly narrates the whole tale. The Eighth Doctor is also written for well, and when you can picture McGann saying the lines, you’ve done excellently.
For fans of Nyssa of Traken this is a must buy. The 30+ minutes just fly by!
❉ ‘Doctor Who: Short Trips – A Heart On Both Sides’ is available as a digital download exclusively from the Big Finish website, RRP £2.99.
❉ Ian McCann is a regular contributor to We Are Cult and editor of The Casual Nexus, home of the ‘Chronological Hysteresis’ series.