Click here to return to the main site.

Audio Drama Review

Doctor Who
Warzone / Conversion


Starring: Peter Davison
Publisher: Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78178 865 3 (CD),
978 1 78178 866 0 (download)
Release Date: 31 December 2019


The latest Fifth Doctor trilogy (if you can call it that) comes to an end with this double CD. The reason for me casting doubt upon the use of the word trilogy is that the previous release, Interstitial / Feast of Fear, comprised two separate two-part stories. So does Warzone / Conversion – or does it…?

At Warzone, competitors gather from across the galaxy to test the limits of their endurance and achieve their personal best. So, when the TARDIS materialises in the middle of a racetrack, the Doctor and his friends must literally run for their lives…

Actually, Personal Best might have been a more fitting title for Chris Chapman’s opening tale than Warzone. The title wording, the synopsis and the trailer at the end of the previous release had all given me the impression that this would be a race to the death, but actually it isn’t. Each of the competitors in this ‘fun run from hell’ is protected from lethal danger by hi-tech wristbands (everyone, that is, except for the newly arrived TARDIS travellers). On the planet Samotis, people are obsessed with self-improvement, with getting a tune-up, with attaining a new PB (personal best), and this race aims to help them achieve that.

It’s no secret that the Cybermen are back in the next story. What is a surprise is their involvement in this one. The truth of the matter gradually dawns on the Doctor (Peter Davison) and his companions during the second episode, after a medical droid assures Tegan (Janet Fielding) that the injured Marc (George Watkins) will be made “better than before.” You might have assumed (as I did) that the Doctor’s vehement speech at the end of the trailer, about not allowing the Cybermen to take another of his friends after Adric, was from Conversion, but it’s not – it’s from Warzone.

Ultimately, the relationship between Warzone and Conversion is not that of two distinct adventures but one that flows directly into the other, rather like The Fate of Krelos and Return to Telos, or Alien Heart / Dalek Soul. It certainly makes for a dramatic ending to the first story, though I cannot help feeling that the Doctor’s hasty departure leaves the people of Samotis with a frankly not very good chance of escaping their fate.



On the fringes of the galaxy, techno-pirates and research medics fight for the secrets of advanced extra-terrestrial technology. For the Doctor, however, a more personal battle awaits as he confronts his own guilt and the creatures that killed a friend…

Both of these tales give us a harder-edged Fifth Doctor than we are used to. It makes sense that he is carrying emotional baggage regarding the Cybermen’s role in the death of Adric at the end of Earthshock, like Picard after his experience with the Borg, which he needs to get out of his system. The exploration of this plot arc is made slightly awkward by the fact that the Doctor and Nyssa have experienced numerous Big Finish adventures between then and now, including a Cybermen story, Spare Parts, during which time this subject hasn’t come up – but perhaps the Time Lord has been reminded of his former crew complement by his reunion with Tegan and the recent addition of Marc. For the listener, the events of Earthshock are lent a greater sense of immediacy by the return of the 1980s versions of the Cybermen, voiced by the actors who played them back in the day, David Banks and Mark Hardy.

Characteristically, Tegan tells it like it is, both about how the Doctor has never really spoken about Adric’s death, and thus never confronted his feelings of grief and guilt, and the fact that, to be honest, Adric could be pretty annoying when he was alive. Towards the climax of the drama, writer Guy Adams has the Doctor eerily echoing the Alzarian’s final words and deeds, while the ending will have lasting repercussions…

Some much-needed light relief is provided by the unscrupulous space pirates Herb and Creasey (Angela Bruce and Liz Sutherland-Lim) and an octopoid physician called Combatta (Pepter Lunkuse). The latter manages to combine a Miranda Hart-style eccentricity with a peculiar air of menace during her scenes with Nyssa (Sarah Sutton).



Though it may initially have seemed that the iconic old monsters were being squandered in a mere two-parter, in fact both Warzone and Conversion provide plenty for Cybermen fans to enjoy – but I’m probably preaching to the converted here.

Richard McGinlay

Buy this item online

Each of the store links below opens in a new window, allowing you to compare the price of this product from various online stores.

Digital Download