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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The Final Phase


Starring: Tom Baker
Publisher: Big Finish Productions
RRP: £10.99 (CD), £8.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78178 060 2
Release Date: 31 July 2013

The raw power of the very fabric of reality itself. And you dare to think you can conquer it?” What is Cuthbert really up to in the Proxima System, and just how does he expect the dreaded Daleks to fit into his scheme? Whatever it is, the enigmatic Conglomerate CEO’s plan for the system is reaching its final phase – with an experiment that might accidentally rip the universe apart. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Romana have been separated. The Doctor is aiding the Proximan fight-back, while Romana and K9 are prisoners of the Daleks. And as the countdown to the opening of the Quantum Gateway begins, the Daleks reveal their true intentions...

This release picks up right where the previous one, The Dalek Contract, left off. I recommend that you listen to both releases without too much of a gap between them (which is what I did), especially since there are no recaps at the beginning of each episode.

The Final Phase is the end of Big Finish’s second season of Fourth Doctor adventures, but the moment has been prepared for. Or has it...?

Writer / director Nicholas Briggs appears to be paving the way for further stories with certain characters featured in this production. When the Doctor (Tom Baker) arrives in the TARDIS with Chidak (Dominic Mafham), he admits that he got a little lost along the way and wonders whether they’ve made it or have arrived in the Battle of Hastings. Later Chidak thanks the Doctor for the trip. Just how many journeys did these two make together? Maybe one day we will find out. The characterisation of Chidak and his rival Halka (Jane Slavin) comes across as crude at times, though it is possible that Briggs is pastiching a typical Terry Nation script here.

I don’t think it’s giving too much away to speculate that we haven’t heard the last from Cuthbert (David Warner) either. Warner holds his own against the Daleks in terms of egotistical ranting. As with Kevin Stoney’s Mavic Chen in The Daleks’ Master Plan, one only stops to consider the stupidity of his trying to do a deal with the Daleks after the fact, not when he is in the full flow of his performance.

Unfortunately, one person that we have heard the last from is Mary Tamm as Romana. It is clear from the final episode that Big Finish had big plans to develop Tamm’s Time Lord over the course of many more audio adventures… but sadly it was not to be. A few months after recording this story, the actress died of cancer. Nevertheless, during this season we have witnessed previously undocumented character development that fits right in between The Armageddon Factor and Destiny of the Daleks: Romana’s increasing respect for the Doctor’s bravery and ingenuity, which is on its way to becoming the full-blown adoration demonstrated by Lalla Ward’s incarnation. In this story, Romana elects not to return to Gallifrey, something that was heavily implied but never explicitly stated on television.

Here’s to Mary Tamm for enduring the discomfort of her illness in order to make this story happen, in order to see The Final Phase through to the end.


Richard McGinlay

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