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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
Black Thursday / Power Game


Starring: Peter Davison

Publisher: Big Finish Productions

RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)

ISBN: 978 1 78178 845 5 (CD)

Release Date: 31 March 2019

The year is 1902. Deep beneath the Welsh village of Abertysswg, men have worked the black seam for generations. Until the day of the disaster, the day that a blue box from the future materialised inside the mine – and then things would never be the same again…

William Hartnell had two of them, Tom Baker had only one, and Peter Davison had three! What am I talking about? Yes, of course, I’m referring to two-parters. During the Fifth Doctor’s time on television, the production team made use of the 2 x 25-minute story format once every year as a way of divvying up each season’s episode count while avoiding those troublesome, overlong six-parters. Therefore, it’s only fair that Davison should have a few two-parters in the course of his audio adventures, as he is the Doctor most closely associated with them. This release comprises two of them, both of which make for a nice change of pace.

First up is Black Thursday. To begin with, this appears to be a purely historical story, with no science-fiction elements aside from the TARDIS and its crew. However, when Kamelion (Jon Culshaw) develops a fault following a mining accident, it gets rather more complicated than that. Now, one could argue that the tragic tale that unfolds still counts as a pure historical, because the android is simply a member of the TARDIS team, just like Ian or Barbara during one of their trips into Earth’s past. However, Ian and Barbara never took on the form of another person or accidentally led one of the locals to believe they’d seen a ghost (though come to think of it, there were those times when Barbara and the First Doctor were mistaken for gods)…

On a few occasions, Jamie Anderson’s story foreshadows Kamelion’s final television adventure, Planet of Fire. This is mostly in terms of how the robot responds to strong emotions, including dreams, but there’s also a moment when Tegan hankers for a holiday in Lanzarote. She would miss out on that opportunity by just one serial!

Perhaps the plot of Black Thursday involves one twist too many towards the end, but there’s no denying that there are some highly charged emotional scenes, especially those involving Lizzie Roper as Eira Hughes. It wasn’t just Kamelion who was affected – I had something in my eye.



Welcome to The Incredible Power Game, in which three brave Earthlings enter the Void Pit in search of strange gems to help return the alien hostess to her home dimension. Today’s contestants include Graham, Sadia – and Tegan, an air stewardess from Brisbane…!

Children of the ’80s will probably notice the similarities between the peculiar game show featured in Power Game and the BBC’s The Adventure Game, in which a different group of contestants each week were supposedly transported to an alien planet, where they had to complete a task such as finding a crystal to fuel their spaceship for the journey back to Earth. Appropriately enough, Janet Fielding (alias Tegan) was a contestant during one episode in 1984 – around the time that this story takes place. Younger listeners may instead find themselves likening the premise to Channel 4’s The Crystal Maze, especially since that programme has recently been revived. Apparently, writer Eddie Robson also used elements from ITV’s The Krypton Factor, though I didn’t spot those.

Wonderfully kitsch synthesised music and sound effects by Mark Hendrick and Robert Harvey took me right back to the period, as did the fact that the game show’s fans were unable to rewind their video recording of an ongoing broadcast without missing the rest of the show. How did we cope in the days before digital television?

In contrast to Black Thursday, I felt that this light-hearted adventure didn’t have enough twists in it. Power Game is a tad predictable – but it is still great fun.

And in case you were wondering… no, Kamelion doesn’t turn into an aspidistra.


Richard McGinlay

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