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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
Death in Blackpool


Starring: Paul McGann
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £10.99 (CD), £8.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 401 6
Available 31 December 2009

Lucie Miller always loved Christmas back home in Blackpool. Nephews and nieces crying because they’ve opened all their presents by half past nine and they still want more. Her Mam running a still-frozen turkey under the hot tap at ten. Great-Grandma Miller half-cut on cooking sherry by eleven. Her Dad and her uncle arguing hammer and tongs about who was the best James Bond all through dinner. And in the afternoon, Aunty Pat, haring up to the house on the back of a moped weighed down with ridiculous presents. Christmas 2009 didn’t turn out like that. Christmas 2009, the Doctor turned up...

Taking a leaf from the book of the new television series, Big Finish has slotted a Christmas special in between the third and fourth seasons of its New Eighth Doctor Adventures. However, if you thought The End of Time was a bit dark for a festive spesh, that’s nothing compared to Death in Blackpool. However, as Russell T Davies has said about The End of Time and Alan Barnes, the writer of this adventure, says in the interviews at the end of the disc, Christmas episodes of EastEnders are routinely full of doom and gloom, death and betrayal, and no one sees anything unusual in that. Barnes deliberately imitates such episodes with this story, which features a family secret, a drunken loony dressed as Father Christmas (Jon Glover), a high-speed collision and the departure of Lucie Miller (Sheridan Smith).

This is a far less fantastical tale than The End of Time. It’s a relatively quiet and contemplative character piece that takes place entirely on Earth. However, there is an alien or two, and Lucie’s departure would not be complete without a return visit from her Aunty Pat (from Horror of Glam Rock and The Zygon Who Fell to Earth), an older version this time, played by Helen Lederer.

The CD extras don’t reveal why Smith is leaving the series, only that she is sad to be doing so, though I reckon her lack of availability may have something to do with it (her schedule clashed with that of Paul McGann during much of the previous season, forcing the actors to record many of their scenes separately).

Lucie’s exit bears some unfortunate similarities to that of the Eighth Doctor’s previous companion, India Fisher’s Charley Pollard. Though the parting is on slightly better terms on this occasion, it’s still something of a downer. Nevertheless, in providing closure for both Lucie and Aunty Pat, Death in Blackpool is a fitting send-off.


Richard McGinlay

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