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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Flight of the Sun God


Author: Nev Fountain
Read by: Nicola Bryant
Publisher: BBC Audio
RRP: £10.99 (CD), £9.00 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78753 768 2 (CD),
978 1 78753 769 9 (download)
Release Date: 03 October 2019

The TARDIS lands aboard the Sun God, a vast spaceship carrying executives from a powerful 35th-century energy company. Evading a pack of deadly cat-like robots, the Doctor discovers that Spalding Revere, the company’s founder, has set the ship on course for the heart of a sun. Meanwhile, Peri meets Brian, whose half-man, half-insect body has a terrible significance to Spalding’s plan. Spalding’s last wish is to take his acolytes with him to the afterlife, and unless the Doctor can intervene, he and Peri will be going with them. As tensions and in-fighting grow among the staff, and the Sun God continues on its final mission, time is running out for them all…

Coincidentally, this single-disc talking book from the BBC has been published at the same that a trilogy of audio adventures from Big Finish Productions featuring the Sixth Doctor and Peri Brown draws to a close. So, if Big Finish has got you in the mood for Old Sixie and Perpugilliam, then The Flight of the Sun God could be (pun intended) a godsend.

Having said that, some aspects of the production sit rather strangely when compared to the recent Big Finish releases. Both the trilogy and this adventure take place at about the same point in the programme’s history, between Seasons 22 and 23, and yet The Flight of the Sun God feels as though it is simultaneously earlier and later than its Big Finish counterparts. In Nev Fountain’s narrative, Peri comes across as less mature than she does in the likes of Memories of a Tyrant, being more sarcastic and bratty, and still slightly prone to bickering with the Doctor. Running counter to this, the Dominic Glynn version of the signature tune from Season 23 is used, whereas Big Finish has been using the earlier Peter Howell arrangement.

Striking a more decisive musical note is sound designer David Darlington, whose incidental score evokes the brash chords with which Malcolm Clarke accompanied the beginning and end of Colin Baker’s time on the television show.

The plot is just plain nuts – even more so than the space cows in the same author’s Destiny of the Doctor: Trouble in Paradise. It involves an Ancient Egyptian-themed spacecraft, the Sun God, which is travelling between the stars in the far future, policed by robot cats. When Peri half-jokingly wonders whether this could be proof of Erich von Däniken’s theory that aliens influenced Egyptian culture, the writer misses a trick by not having the Doctor mention the Osirans. The Sun God is, in fact, the brainchild of an eccentric Earth tycoon, Spalding Revere. It’s Doctor Who meets The Secret Millionaire when the Sun God’s staff mistakenly believe that the Time Lord is Revere wearing an outrageous disguise. In common with several of the Sixth Doctor and Peri’s television adventures, certain characters are transformed into other creatures, though in this case it is mostly for the purpose of comic relief rather than body horror.

Nicola Bryant, who played Peri on screen and who is Fountain’s partner and frequent creative collaborator in real life, narrates this yarn. She enthusiastically embraces the opportunity to assume a diverse range of character voices for the Sun God crewmembers, including Scottish for Duncan, prim for Lorraine and croaky for the beetle-headed Brian. Bryant’s Sixth Doctor voice is often a bit too sharp and abrupt, especially at the beginning of the tale (Baker’s delivery tends to be more languid), but it gets better as she goes along.

All in all, this is a bizarre flight of fancy.


Richard McGinlay

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