Click here to return to the main site.

Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The Architects of History


Starring: Sylvester McCoy
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 435 1
Available 31 March 2010

The year is 2044. Earth is enjoying a Golden Age of peace, prosperity and technological advancement... but somebody is plotting to destroy all that. The Selachians, shark-like alien monsters, launch a crippling attack on Earth’s Moonbase, using deadly weapons from the future. Help is at hand: a police telephone box appears in a Moonbase hangar. A time-travelling hero has returned in the hour of Earth’s greatest need. Elizabeth Klein must fight to save not only the Galactic Reich but Time itself from the mysterious prisoner who has orchestrated these fateful events: the Doctor...

Following the cliffhanger ending to last month’s Survival of the Fittest, I had been expecting this adventure to be a race against Time for the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) to prevent Klein (Tracey Childs) from using the TARDIS to alter the course of history. However, it’s far too late for that. As this adventure unfolds, it rapidly becomes clear that Klein has changed history many times over, reshaping it to her vision of a glorious Galactic Reich, then going back and tweaking any aspects that don’t pan out as expected.

The final story in the Klein saga, The Architects of History is at once a reflection and the antithesis of Colditz, the audio drama in which writer Steve Lyons introduced the character. Whereas Colditz has a historical setting, The Architects of History is a space opera set in the future. As in Colditz, the Doctor finds himself having to guess the actions and motivations of an alternate self, in this case the Doctor from the altered timeline, whose place he (rather confusingly) assumed when history was rearranged, but without gaining any of his other self’s memories. Even more so than Colditz, this is a story in which everyone seems to be out to double-cross someone else, and no one is entirely what they appear to be.

The writer also brings back another of his creations, the water-breathing Selachians. These shark-like creatures previously appeared in his Second Doctor novels The Murder Game and The Final Sanction, though you don’t need to have read those books in order to follow this story. The Selachians work well on audio, their xenophobic personalities brought to life by Chris Porter and David Dobson, and their voices (sounding like ’80s Cybermen speaking underwater) realised by sound designer Jamie Robertson.

Lenora Crichlow (Being Human, Doctor Who: Gridlock) is well cast as Rachel Cooper, a companion that could have been, though she struggles with some of the clunkier lines of dialogue she is given.

This isn’t the first time Lyons has penned a time-warped tale, but once again he manages to prevent the inevitability of a temporal reset button from depriving the situation of its meaning and the characters of our sympathies.

Disc 1 also includes a nine-minute suite of Jamie Robertson’s exciting incidental music, while Disc 2 ends with 17 minutes of enthusiastic interviews with the cast and crew, including Sylvester McCoy, Tracey Childs, Lenora Crichlow and Steve Lyons.

It’s a pity the Klein saga couldn’t have continued for a while longer. Perhaps one day Big Finish will allow us to hear some of her hitherto unrecorded travels with the Doctor between Klein’s Story and Survival of the Fittest, or some of her countless flights in the stolen TARDIS between Survival of the Fittest and this story. Until then, the well-constructed Architects of History will more than make do.


Richard McGinlay

Buy this item online

We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£11.24 (Amazon.co.uk)
£9.99 (Play.com)
£14.99 (Waterstones.com)
£10.49 (Tesco.com)

All prices correct at time of going to press.