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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
Warlock’s Cross


Starring: Sylvester McCoy
Publisher: Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78178 837 0 (CD)
Release Date: 31 December 2018

It’s time the truth was told. About UNIT. About the Cybermen invasion. About the so-called ‘Doctor’. About what happened all those years ago, at Warlock’s Cross. About what became of Corporal Linda Maxwell. About Lieutenant Daniel Hopkins, the man they keep locked up in a cage, in a secret prison… It’s time. Because UNIT scientific adviser Elizabeth Klein is going to help ensure that the truth is brought to light. Today’s the day… that UNIT falls…

Last month, the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) concluded a trilogy of tales with Ace and Mel, but we haven’t heard the last from him just yet. Now he is rounding off another trilogy, a more occasional set of stories that have dropped in on UNIT during the years following the retirement of Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart and tracked the unfortunate fate of Medical Officer Daniel Hopkins (Blake Harrison).

UNIT’s current Commanding Officer is a new character, Colonel McKenna, played by Richard Gibson. He often sounds like David Troughton to my ear, but is best known for playing Herr Flick in the BBC sitcom ’Allo ’Allo (in interviews at the end of this release, Gibson recalls rehearsing in the next room to the Doctor Who team in the 1980s). We also catch up with Dr Elizabeth Klein (Tracey Childs), a recurring protagonist of the Seventh Doctor’s audio adventures, who started out (in Colditz) as a Nazi scientist from an alternate timeline but, following considerable rewriting of her personal history, now works as UNIT’s scientific adviser. Finally, we are reacquainted with Corporal Linda Maxwell (Genevieve Gaunt), who we last encountered in the first part of this trilogy, The Helliax Rift.

Though Warlock’s Cross is the last story in a set of three, it often feels as though there was a fourth one, that we the listeners haven’t been able to experience (apart from a brief snippet during the final episode) but several characters reminisce about here. The events in question took place between The Helliax Rift and Hour of the Cybermen, shortly after Hopkins lost his family in a fire, and what transpired accounts for the absence of Maxwell from the latter tale.

After an intriguing opening, I found the middle section of Warlock’s Cross (the second half of Episode Two and most of Episode Three) somewhat hard going. The physical sense of where characters are in relation to each other becomes confusing. With several of them hearing voices (which aren’t always clearly audible), it is occasionally difficult to tell what is real and what is imaginary (which, admittedly, is kind of the point of Steve Lyons’s plot).

The writer plays upon our expectations – what we expect from a Steve Lyons story (such as the course of history being under threat), especially one featuring Klein, a character he created (will she revert to her former self?), what we expect from the sometimes callous Seventh Doctor, and how we expect the military to behave, both in real life and in Doctor Who.

Blake Harrison and Richard Gibson get lumbered with some stilted dialogue, which they struggle to bring to life. Fortunately, Genevieve Gaunt compensates by giving us a finely nuanced performance (more nuanced than you might realise at first from her character’s initially cold demeanour), showing us several sides to the troubled Corporal Maxwell.

Warlock’s Cross provides a subdued and thoughtful conclusion to the UNIT trilogy, rather than a crescendo of blood and thunder.

And we still haven’t heard the last from the Seventh Doctor, not by a long chalk. He’s back again in the next monthly release, alongside Ace, Hex and Iris Wildthyme, in Muse of Fire...


Richard McGinlay

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