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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
Gods and Monsters


Starring: Sylvester McCoy
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 945 5
Available 30 September 2012

The TARDIS travellers arrive in a bizarre landscape that is seemingly immune to the physical laws governing the rest of the universe. Ace, Hex, Sally and Lysandra battle to rescue the Doctor from the trap he’s walked into. They soon realise that the odds are stacked against them in this strange realm, because the Doctor is playing an old adversary again: Fenric, shatterer of worlds. The dice were loaded against the Doctor and his allies long ago, in the dim and distant past - and defeat is their only option...


Looking back at my notes for the previous release in this sequence, Black and White, I see that I jotted down the words: “Ep 4 - Is it the return of Fenric?” I am delighted to say that I was right - and not just because it makes me feel smug, but because the return of Fenric has been a surprisingly long time coming. His presence (portrayed with chilling dispassion by John Standing - who would, incidentally, have made a very good Celestial Toymaker) is entirely appropriate in a tale that not only ties up the “black TARDIS trilogy”, which started with Protect and Survive, but reaches much further back into Doctor Who continuity.

Writers Mike Maddox and Alan Barnes not only resolve the whole “elder gods” arc of recent Seventh Doctor audios, but also build upon plot revelations that were made during Sylvester McCoy’s three seasons on the television series, not just in the obvious source material of The Curse of Fenric, but also an apparently innocuous remark made during Dragonfire, Sophie Aldred’s very first adventure as Ace. There’s a sneaky in-joke reference to Delta and the Bannermen too. Perhaps it goes without saying that you need a considerable degree of familiarity with recent developments and a basic understanding of the Seventh Doctor’s adventures as a whole in order to derive maximum pleasure from this story.

The harshest criticism I can think of about Gods and Monsters is that it takes the characters of Ace, Hex (Philip Olivier), Captain Aristides (Maggie O’Neill) and Private Morgan (Amy Pemberton) out of their normal physical reality (it’s a bit like the New Adventures novel Timewyrm: Revelation in that respect), which hardly makes for sympathetic human drama. The narrative doesn’t really need the presence of the Haemovores either. However, there are big, shouty, exciting, fantastical events to be enjoyed here, and the experience does become an emotional one towards the end of the play - with the aid of moving performances from the regulars and a rousing score by Howard Carter. The latter would not seem out of place on the new television series, should Murray Gold ever happen to call in sick.

Disc 1 ends with a nine-minute suite of Carter’s excellent music, while Disc 2 includes 15 minutes of behind-the-scenes interviews. These explain how some of the plot arcs that have fed into this tale came about pretty much by accident, while others are evidently ingenious design.

This has been a very well planned and coherently realised trilogy, and it comes to a goddamned exciting conclusion in Gods and Monsters. I am intrigued to find out what will happen next to this particular TARDIS crew, but for now we’ll just have to play the CD again... Time Lord.


Richard McGinlay

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