How have I managed to not hook up for an Iris Wildthyme, starring Doctor Who Legend Katy Manning, before!?! Sadly aurally only but she’s still larger than life in audio! I’ve never avoided this series but I’ve never quite had the time or been in line to review them. I’m quickly rectifying that situation after listening to her latest adventures in her time traveling double decker.
You get a lot of bang for your buck with this set as there are eight really strong stories – the first one seeing the return of one of the most inventive, irrepressible and downright fun Doctor Who villains ever to be created by Big Finish, the Scorchies! As well as being the musically endowed comedy romp you’d expect it also brings up some unexpected past history for Iris.
The next story, Dark Side, takes a very different tone: a Ghost story with several original twists, including the location. It’s a much more claustrophobic environment than the stadium sized Scorchie gig but it’s a creepy tale that brings out the best of Wildthyme and Captain Turner.
Oracle of the Supermarket is an odd mix, a mash up of the mundane and the supernatural – Arabian nights meets lunchtime in the high street – that nonetheless is quirky and fun.
Murder at the Abbey is also fun but is less quirky and more like the movie Clue. But then with sleuths like Iris and captain Turner nothing else would be apt.
After being Earth bound it seems inevitable that the duo should take to space, and sure enough an intergalactic casino is the setting for their next tale in The Slots of Giza. Something must be too good to be true when every day provides free gambling and when guests keep dying at the machines Iris must find the cause before her time runs out.
High Spirits is perhaps the boldest of the tales here as it does something quite brave for a series with it’s twist. Rather than a last minute fake out it follows up on the early setup. It’s refreshing to not have a timey wimey or deus ex resolution: instead something that signals a cost to be paid in the future. While S9 has shown Doctor Who can do a great ghost story Iris was well endowed in that camp long before that!
An Extraterrestrial Werewolf in Belgium has perhaps the best title of the group and it’s a fun and fast paced tale that, unsurprisingly, involves a werewolf and a lot of running away. It does have a bitter sweet ending though.
The series is topped with Paul Magrs Looking for a Friend. Melancholy but very touching and a nice contrast to the more fun stories before, this shows that Iris can be deep and meaningful. Can you find the friend you left behind or is there only despair at the bottom of the bottle?