With a third box set, and the second to comprise entirely full-cast adventures, the Third Doctor, bless his little bouf, is back with us again. As before, Tim Treloar presents his on-the-button interpretation of Jon Pertwee’s eponymous Third Doc, ably assisted by Katy Manning’s Jo Grant, in a duo of stories set late in Ms Grant’s run.
First up is Nick Briggs’s The Conquest of Far, which is less a sequel to and more a direct continuation of TV’s Planet of the Daleks. The planet of Far is home to one of humanity’s greatest feats of spatial engineering – but it has been invaded by the Daleks, and is now a mere chess piece in a deadly intergalactic game. Can the Doctor save Far from complete oblivion?
Andrew Smith’s The Storm of the Horofax completes the set. A mysterious alien, apparently peaceful but with the ability to see the future, has made contact with the crew of Royal Navy destroyer. But who are the Horofax, and what are their true designs for the peoples of Earth?
It’s hard to find fault with this set. There’s a real sense of scale to The Conquest of Far that both complements and eclipses the aspirations of its TV precursor with its limited 70s budget. There’s also a whole depth to the story that was rarely achieved on TV, for all that that was one of the show’s golden eras. More than just a straight paranoid-Daleks-shoot-everything piece, this story explores the knock-on effects of the horror of invasion, and what it might actually make people do. Having said that, it never strays from good, old-fashioned Whovial adventures, and what with the fantastic sound design from David Nagel and Joe Meiners, and a score from Jamie Robertson that could have come straight from the 70s series itself, it really just delivers everything one could want from a missing Pertwee adventure.
Smith’s The Storm of the Horofax similarly evokes a very familiar style of Third Doctor story, one that’s been around at least since The Claws of Axos: benevolent alien may not be as benevolent as it appears. And again, quite apart from a script that fits, it just sounds the part. There must be a temptation to write for this series more contemporary stories, with more contemporary mores and values. It is to the credit of the writers and BigFinish that, instead, they have stuck with something that sounds entirely of its era.
But of course, so very much of why it sounds so right is in the performance of the lead actor. Tim Treloar, here interpreting Pertwee’s Doctor for the third time, is just getting better and better. He always sounded like Three, with barely a waiver; but this time, his performance just utterly nails it. No more is one thinking “that sounds uncannily like Jon Pertwee”; rather, one actually is drawn into a world that has the real Third Doctor in it. With no disrespect to Pertwee, and for all that Treloar’s is quite rightly an interpretation rather than an impersonation… well, there’s only one Third Doctor. He just truly has two actors portraying him.
And, of course, that Treloar is made for the role was always to be expected: the clues were all there. ‘Tim’, the name of the Speaking Clock, providing services temporal to the people of Britain for years. ‘Tre’, the Italian word for three. And ‘Loar’, the time-honoured East End term for a person of nobility recognised the world over. Jumble them together, and what do you have? Tim… Loar… Tre. Time… Lord… Three. It was hidden in plain sight the whole time.
Written By: Nicholas Briggs, Andrew Smith
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs
Tim Treloar (The Doctor), Katy Manning (Jo Grant), George Watkins (Delralis), John Banks (Jickster), Amy Newton (Elaquon), Robin Weaver (Arianda), Iain Batchelor (Adam Rigg), Robert Hands (Major Hardy / Crewman), Richard Derrington (Commander Burton), Ian Cunningham (Sinko / Ronson / Lieutenant), Jake Dudman (UNIT Radio Operator) and Nicholas Briggs (The Daleks)
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor John Dorney
Executive Producers Nicholas Briggs and Jason Haigh-Ellery