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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
To the Death


Starring: Paul McGann
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £10.99 (CD), £8.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 503 7
Available 31 March 2011

He can’t be alive...” The Daleks have successfully conquered the Earth, just a few short decades after their last occupation. Following a futile fight-back against the invaders, Lucie, Susan and Alex are heading home to England in the desperate hope of saving the Doctor’s life. But the true, terrible nature of the Daleks’ plan is beginning to emerge and the Monk has blood on his hands. To defeat the Daleks, it can only be a struggle... to the death...


The single-disc adventures of the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) come to a decisive end with To the Death. McGann’s Doctor will return in Big Finish’s main strand of two-disc monthly Who releases, but among the rest of the recurring cast of characters, including Lucie (Sheridan Smith), Tamsin (Niky Wardley), Susan (Carole Ann Ford) and Alex (Jake McGann), no one is safe.

We are used to Doctor Who production teams chickening out of killing off main characters. Peri appeared to have been assassinated in The Trial of a Time Lord, but she got better. A similar, though dramatically more satisfying, fate befell Rory in Series 5. Rumours of Rose’s death in Series 2 proved to be greatly exaggerated, and Big Finish executive producer Nicholas Briggs couldn’t bring himself to conclusively write out Charley at the end of Blue Forgotten Planet. As though to compensate for his earlier leniency, writer / director Briggs here dispatches more than one recurring character - though, it has to be said, no characters that actually originated on the TV series.

Paul McGann gives one of his best performances ever. There’s a real sense of danger as he expresses his anger over the fate of his friends, the decisions he has been forced to take, and his regret over his past actions - including having failed to destroy the Dalek Time Controller a couple of regenerations ago in Patient Zero.

That creature returns in this story, still sounding a bit like Davros and a lot like the similarly time-addled Dalek Caan in Series 4. Conversely, in a refreshing change from trends in recent television stories, there are, as Lucie remarks, no “heavenly choirs, bright lights, thunder [or] lightning” when the Doctor is revived near the beginning of the episode.

Having mimicked the format of the new television series for so long, the Eighth Doctor adventures demonstrate how different they can be. The Eighth Doctor will return, but how will he move on from the trauma of these events? Come to that, how will the listeners? After To the Death, things may never be the same again.


Richard McGinlay

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