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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
Blood on Santa’s Claw and Other Stories


Starring: Colin Baker
Publisher: Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78178 867 7 (CD),
978 1 78178 868 4 (download)
Release Date: 31 January 2020

In case you’re thinking that January is an odd time of year to be publishing a Yuletide-themed anthology, Blood on Santa’s Claw and Other Stories was available in time for Christmas 2019 via the Big Finish website, but not on general release through other retailers until the end of January 2020. That’s that bit of strangeness explained – though there’s plenty more where that came from…

The Doctor, Peri and Joe land on the planet Naxios, where they discover the body of Father Christmas. Who killed him? The strange individuals dressed in Shakespearean costume or the talking animals wearing waistcoats digging in the tunnels…?

The opening episode, Blood on Santa’s Claw, introduces us to a new companion: Joe Carnaby (Luke Allen-Gale), a 1980s pop star who has recently become the boyfriend of Peri (Nicola Bryant). At first, I thought I must have missed the release in which Joe boarded the TARDIS. I decided I would Google him later, but it turns out that this is his first adventure, as he joined the crew ‘off screen’.

He’s not the only newcomer in evidence. The first three stories in this collection come from names that are new to Big Finish, though Alan Terigo’s work is worthy of the wacky Nev Fountain, who contributes the final tale. Here we find Wind in the Willows characters being subjugated by Shakespearean protagonists, with Santa Claus in charge of the whole regime. This may seem like silliness just for the sake of the pantomime season, but in among the comical scenes the writer cunningly sets up the peculiar conventions of this society and sticks to them, hiding the solution to the Doctor’s apparent defeat in plain sight.



Still in the 59th century, the Time Lord and his companions visit the Ishtar Institute, where the term ‘designer babies’ takes on a new and sinister meaning. Will our heroes survive Christmas Day…?

After not having very much to do in the previous episode, Joe is more central to the plot of The Baby Awakes, as the TARDIS crew’s investigation of the morally questionable Ishtar Institute requires him and Peri to pose as prospective parents.

This is the least festive story in the anthology. Though it starts off with a family named after Dickens characters arguing over Christmas dinner, this is something of a red herring (or is it?), since Susan Dennom’s tale is not primarily about well-known fictional people like the previous entry was. Made-up people, yes, as advanced technology allows would-be mothers and fathers to see how their potential offspring would turn out if allowed to reach maturity. This is an emotive drama, which puts Peri in particular through the wringer.



A Christmas party that’s been going on for over three years. Strange silver robots who guard the Christmas decorations with lethal force. What is the secret behind the festivities on Tate Galactic…?


Cracks start to show in the relationship between Peri and Joe in I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, by Andrew Lias. They’re not the only ones with personal failings. The Doctor (Colin Baker) comes across as incredibly naive when he takes a prisoner (Lord Lycaon, played by Steven Elder) at his word. However, it will soon transpire that the Time Lord has been making other, less obvious errors of judgement lately…

A snack-obsessed robot waiter (portrayed, unless my ears deceive me, by director, producer and script editor John Ainsworth) is a blatant rip-off of Talkie Toaster from Red Dwarf – but in other respects this is an entertaining and original satire on the forced jollity of a Christmas party. This gives way to a curious mystery and ultimately leads to a surprising ending.



The TARDIS crew encounter a shameful secret from the dark past of the Time Lords. History has been rewritten, and this time it’s all the Doctor’s fault…

The surprise at the end of I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day is that it’s not the end at all. That episode leads directly into the final one, Brightly Shone the Moon That Night, written by Nev Fountain. In fact, Fountain wrote all of the stories in this collection, under a variety of pen names (Al Terigo, Sue Dennom, A Lias – geddit?). The ruse was intended to hide the fact that these dramas are more closely linked than they at first appear, as is confessed during the ten minutes of interviews at the end of Disc Two. It certainly fooled me. I am used to seeing unfamiliar names on anthologies such as this, because it’s on anthologies such as this that Big Finish tends to try out new writers.

Numerous characters from the previous three episodes put in appearances, making this escapade somewhat akin to one of those season finale reunions from the revived television show. The villain’s decision to broadcast a notification about his supremacy over all (as if that’s all it takes to conquer a world) is about as believable as the Master’s ultimatum to the peoples of the universe in Logopolis. Aside from that, though, this final helping of Christmas adventure is as rich and satisfying as plum pudding with custard.


Richard McGinlay

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