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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
Patient Zero


Starring: Colin Baker
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 412 2
Available 31 August 2009

Finally, the Sixth Doctor challenges Charlotte Pollard to tell him the truth. Who is she really? What is she doing in the TARDIS? To discover the answers, the Doctor must travel back in time to the vast, mysterious Amethyst Viral Containment Station. But answers lie within the TARDIS too: with someone who has been there for a long, long time... Meanwhile, the Daleks have travelled back in time on their own mission, one so complex and delicate that even they know they must beware the web of time... Who is Patient Zero? What has happened to Charley? And why have the legendary Viyrans been summoned...?

It may seem a little soon for the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and Charley (India Fisher) to be facing the Daleks again. After all, Brotherhood of the Daleks was only a couple of adventures ago for them. However, a strange infection means that more time has passed for the Doctor than it feels like to Charley, and Patient Zero also gives writer/director/Dalek voice Nicholas Briggs the chance to pitch the Daleks against recurring aliens of his own creation, the enigmatic Viyrans.

To reacquaint listeners with the Viyrans, Big Finish is offering their previous appearance, the single-episode Peter Davison story Mission of the Viyrans, as a download for 99p. There’s also a brief history of them in the CD’s sleeve notes. Actually, though, you don’t need to be familiar with the Viyrans in order to follow this story, because the Doctor and Charley have never heard of them before.

After the straightforward nature of the recent Enemy of the Daleks, Patient Zero is another “what the heck?” kind of Dalek story (into which pigeonhole I also place the communist Daleks of Brotherhood, the toy Daleks of Renaissance and the Shakespeare-spouting Daleks of Time). Here the creatures are guided by a rather unusual sounding Dalek known as the Time Controller, who sounds like an only slightly less unhinged version of the time-warped Dalek Caan in The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End. However, the real weirdness doesn’t surround the Daleks this time, but rather Charley and a mysterious interloper called Mila (Jess Robinson). How can Mila have been on board the TARDIS, unseen, since the Doctor’s first incarnation? Briggs keeps us guessing for the duration.

The modest cast gives the impression of a much larger complement of characters, thanks to Briggs playing numerous Daleks, Michael Maloney portraying a peculiar multiple entity known as Fratalin, and various cast members doubling up as Viyrans (who mimic people’s voices).

Disc 1 includes the usual behind-the-scenes interviews, while Disc 2 concludes with the fifth instalment of The Three Companions. It’s “The Brigadier’s Story” this time, as the retired Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) recalls a rare excursion in the TARDIS with the Third Doctor. In an intriguing turn of events, the two men find themselves in what at first appears to be Waterloo Station in London, but proves to be far stranger...

Are you eager to see my mark out of ten for Patient Zero? Be patient...


Richard McGinlay

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