Never let it be said that Big Finish aren’t willing to indulge a little nepotism once in a while. Yes, star of Doctor Who Main Range offering The Emerald Tiger is none other than Nick Briggs’s four year old son Benedict playing the role of Jonathan. And to be honest, from the moment he says his first line, you become aware there’s something a bit magical about to happen.
Barnaby Edwards’s fifth Doctor story involves a cricket match in 1926 Calcutta, a sentient tiger – amongst other animals – and a lost world. And it moves magically from a boys’ own story of Raj racists to the sci-fi staple of eternal life through alien artefact.
As ever from BF, it sounds beautiful throughout. The India of the 1920s is readily evoked, as is the excitement of, for example, the chase along a moving train (no easy thing in pure audio). The writing is strong, pushing the narrative along with gusto (while not forsaking the opportunity to drop a couple of delightfully bad puns along the way – ‘me Tegan, you Djahn’ being possibly the groaniest) and gives the actors something really meaty to play with.
And play with it they do. The main cast are, as ever, very fine – especially Mark Strickson as Turlough on this occasion. But the guest cast are wonderful, with special mention going to Cherie Lunghi as Lady Adela and Sam Dastor as Professor Narayan.
It’s very hard to fault this play, to be honest. The richness of the soundscape, and indeed the land it’s trying to recreate, is easily matched by story, performance and writing. It’s mystical fairytale, boys-own adventures and Star Wars rolled into one, and deserves a grab.