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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
Interstitial / Feast of Fear


Starring: Peter Davison
Publisher: Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78178 863 9 (CD),
978 1 78178 864 6 (download)
Release Date: 30 November 2019

After the double-length instalments of Tartarus, we return to the traditional episode duration of approximately 25 minutes. However, we remain in the land of the two-parter, as this release and the next each comprise a pair of two-episode adventures for the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison), Nyssa (Sarah Sutton), Tegan (Janet Fielding) and Marc (George Watkins).

When the TARDIS is drawn off course by temporal disruption, the Doctor and his companions discover a research facility conducting dangerous experiments. But how do you fight the future when time itself is being used as a weapon…?

We are used to the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan travelling with a Mark – Mark Strickson as Turlough – but this is a different Marc, the freed Roman slave who joined the crew at the end of the previous release. His referring to the TARDIS as a temple and his lack of comprehension at the futuristic marvels he encounters in Interstitial are reminiscent of the First Doctor’s ill-fated Trojan companion Katarina. In light of the sombre note that was struck in the final scene of Tartarus, we are led to wonder whether Marc will be similarly short-lived.

With its talk of interstitial time, “the gap between now… and now,” newcomer Carl Rowens’s story seems to set itself up as a sequel to The Time Monster. We don’t meet any Chronovores, though they are briefly mentioned. However, the setting is a space station of the same type as Nerva Beacon in The Ark in Space and Revenge of the Cybermen. The crew don’t face any Wirrn or Cybermen, but we do get to hear the Beacon’s familiar alert sirens and the eerie atmosphere of the transom.

However, the actual events that unfold remind me more of Sapphire & Steel, with the TARDIS crew being separated by a short but apparently insurmountable period of time, and the film Altered States, with scientists Professor Kalu (Anna-Maria Nabirye) and her initially eager young assistant Chris Jennings (Jeremy Ang Jones) undergoing evolutionary changes as a result of their meddling with time. Sound designer Lee Adams provides some gruesome bone-crunching effects as Kalu’s victims are painfully aged or regressed. There’s also a possible nod to the Twelfth Doctor’s blackboard, when Nyssa makes use of such a medium to communicate with the Doctor and Marc.

Interstitial is packed with interesting concepts, but is marred by a rather flat performance from Nabirye and (ironically given the subject matter) insufficient time to fully develop its ideas.



At the height of the Irish famine of the late 1840s, carnival folk travel the country bringing much-needed cheer to all they encounter. But the carnival also brings something else – something far less pleasant – and it already has the Doctor…

The above synopsis has been adapted by yours truly from what appears on the back cover of this two-disc release. I did this partly in order to match the length of the blurb for Interstitial, but also to avoid the terrible mixture of tenses in the original wording, which refers to the travelling carnival as both a singular and a plural entity within the same sentence: “a carnival travels the country bringing cheer to all they encounter.” Who are “they”, the carnival or the country? “But it also brings something else along with them…” the blurb continues, almost incomprehensibly, “and it already has the Doctor.”

Fortunately the story itself, by Martyn Waites, another writer new to Big Finish, is easier to follow. The concept at the heart of Feast of Fear is a familiar one: imagine the parasitical Psychic Circus from The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, even down to the whip-cracking ringmaster. The difference this time is that instead of an alien planet, this show is touring Earth’s past, and it has already captured the Doctor and assimilated one of his companions.

With the Time Lord incapacitated (though we do still hear from him), the narrative instead revolves around his companions, in particular the friendship between Nyssa and Tegan. Sarah Sutton gets to do more than play the usually nice Nyssa. It is also noted that while the 19th century is the past as far as most of the TARDIS crew are concerned, it is the far future from Marc’s point of view – a situation that does not very often arise among the Doctor’s companions.

I am doubtful that Brianna (Melissa Dean) would be so outspoken about her same-sex relationship in the 1840s, but ultimately it does lead to a moving resolution.



Interviews with the cast and crew of both adventures can be found at the end of the second disc, in a single 15-minute track. However, if you wish to enjoy a spoiler-free listen after you’ve heard Interstitial but before you’ve consumed Feast of Fear, be assured that the interview track stays on the subject of the first story for just under ten minutes before turning its attention to the second.

Richard McGinlay

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