Spies, DJs, modulated frequency wave cancellation signals: these are amongst the odder things awaiting the Doctor and Romana in 1960’s London. But perhaps the oddest is the cancellation signal’s inventor lying unconscious next to it… so what links the Professor, a catchy radio jingle and the British Secret service? Whatever it is, it’s connected to a risk far greater than they might have imagined, and a clandestine alien invasion. Can the Doctor defeat the Aliens? Can Romana survive a shopping trip? Can K-9 cope with his new job?
I’ve been enjoying the 4th Doctor’s adventures since I started reviewing them at the start of series four, a run with Louis Jameson as the companion, and I’ve been keen to see how things would change with Romana, played by Lalla Ward, as the companion. To be honest, while it’s nice having Romana back in the TARDIS, things jar a little. I found her interaction with Tom felt slightly out of sync, not flowing as smoothly as one might wish. While both performances were good, they felt like two separate entities that paused for each other – no doubt in part because the two recorded their parts in separate studios on different dates. It wasn’t a major issue but it’s the first time I’ve ever felt that between two characters in a Big Finish audio and it only seemed to affect the leads.
It didn’t dampen the story any and it’s a fun tale that mixes up a variety of elements from the 60s with spies, pirate radio and outrageous fashion. It’s fair to say that the aliens did feel a little similar to other main-range extraterrestrials from recent months who also used waves to move about – and had there been a larger gap I probably wouldn’t have noticed – but they’re not identical by any means.
The story is a bit of a romp, with an engaging mystery as to what’s going on, and mystifying starting circumstances. It’s fairly whimsical, with many highly enjoyable moments, especially for K-9. There is the odd moment of threat, but it’s very much in the ‘City of Death’ vein, with a lot of humour, and the danger being treated as another day in the office. It’s a slightly different tone from the Doctor’s travels with Leela but it’s nice to have a companion that keeps the Doctor on his toes in a different way. A great start to the series that’s left me eager to see what the TARDIS trio get up to next.
Written By: Justin Richards
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs
Tom Baker (The Doctor), Lalla Ward (Romana), John Leeson (K9), Karl Theobald (Mark Lanchaster), Phil Mulryne (Barnaby Miller), Alix Wilton Regan (Jill), John Banks (Derek Fretus)
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor John Dorney
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs