Doctor Who – ‘The Companion Chronicles: The First Doctor Volume Two’ reviewed

❉ Brave storytelling, standout performances and enthralling entertainment!

There’s something infinitely magical about ‘Doctor Who’ cast members reprising their roles on audio to bring us new and original stories. Everything’s steeped in such love and passion to bring these dramas together.  Here Big Finish presents a healthy four-story dose of the First Doctor era in their beloved ‘Companion Chronicles’ range.

Starting off the set is the Fields of Terror by John Pritchard; narrated by the ever splendid Maureen O’Brien who slips back into the role of Vicki with great ease. The story revisits the French Revolution and takes the action far from the Reign of Terror,  toward the French country side. As a mysterious enemy hunts down a group of soldiers and the TARDIS crew, casualties start to pile up and the morals and actions of the revolution are put into question.

Fields of Terror is a tale that will haunt you a while after listening to it. Wonderfully written and chillingly paced it brings to you a very different kind of First Doctor story. An excellent start to this set.

Across the Darkened City by David Bartlett is a two-hander with Steven Taylor and a Dalek. They both have to work together to survive and the resulting story is utterly glorious. Peter Purves delivers a fine performance here, as well as Nicholas Briggs who never amazes to bring so much to a Dalek’s voice. This story once again proves that Steve Taylor (one of the few characters to survive the deadly Season 3 of the show) is a total badass.

Una McCormack’s The Bonfire of the Vanities is such an unusual tale in many regards. Not only is it a rare audio outing for Ben and Polly with the First Doctor, but it’s damn well eerie. Set on Guy Fawkes’ Night, the TARDIS crew gets mixed up with some mischievous children, a library and a rather livelier than usual Guy Fawkes effigy.  To speak more of the plot would be a crime; however I will talk about the cast of the piece. Anneke Wills’ everlasting youth shines once again upon Polly Wright to make her live again. What’s also rather spectacular and interesting here is the young gentleman who plays Ben Jackson. As you may or may not know, dear Michael Craze passed away almost 20 years ago, so Big Finish decided to recast the character for audio. What a fantastic job they’ve done too! Elliot Chapman ABSOLUTELY nails the role. Not only does he sound almost exactly like Michael Craze as Ben, but he brings the same young Cockney spirit and charm he had. Simply remarkable.

Last but not least is Guy Adams’ The Plague of Dreams. Suffice to say, things get a bit Elizabethan here with a love letter to that type of theatre and storytelling. The Plague of Dreams is an extremely clever bit of writing. Wills and Chapman (who pulls double duty here) seems to be having loads of fun. If you were paying attention to the three previous stories who might have noticed the audio glitch in them. There’s a rather epic reason for all of that I’m not inclined to reveal here but if you have a listen to (this) and it might give you a clue.

If I had to pick two words that summed up The Companion Chronicles: The First Doctor Volume Two, they would be ‘dark’ and ‘different’. Nothing presented here relies on past successes or spoon feeds you nostalgia. This latest addition to the Companion Chronicles range offers brave storytelling, standout performances and hours of pure entertainment. Fans of the First Doctor era and audio drama, in general, will be enthralled.

Set this high on your ‘Want List’!

❉‘The Companion Chronicles: The First Doctor Volume Two’ was released on 21  June 2017. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until July 31st 2017, and on general sale after this date.

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