Doctor Who
No More Lies

Starring: Paul McGann
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £10.99
ISBN: 978 1 84435 260 9
Available 30 June 2007

What links a disintegrating spaceship adrift in the Time Vortex with a posh garden party on the planet Earth, where a wealthy couple are celebrating their love for each other in style? Why are the partygoers experiencing such a strange and powerful sense of déjà vu? Gatecrashers the Doctor and Lucie think they know the answers - but they're not the only uninvited guests. The Tar-Modowk, ferocious time-sensitive alien warriors riding pterodactyl-like Vortisaurs, are about to make their entrance...

When I originally listened to this episode on the radio, I'm afraid didn't enjoy it very much. Paul Sutton's script is a complex affair, which throws us straight into the middle of the Doctor (Paul McGann) and Lucie's (Sheridan Smith) latest adventure and then proceeds to cut between two spatiotemporal locations. In order to fully grasp it, I needed to rewind a few bits of dialogue and hear then again. I can't do that with my radio. Even with BBC 7's "listen again" online service this is a bit tricky, owing to the imprecision of navigating the progress bar.

Now that I have heard No More Lies again on CD, I appreciate all its subtleties - in particular the poignant relationship that exists between Nick Zimmerman (Nigel Havers) and his wife Rachel (Julia McKenzie). The two main guest stars give truly moving performances, which are right up there with the best tearjerkers of recent television shows.

But it's not all heartache and angst. There's humour here too - for example, in the Doctor and Lucie's discussion of her gluteus maximus (that's bum to you and me), while Tom Chadbon (as Rachel's brother Gordon) gets the funniest line in the entire episode.

That said, Chadbon's role has more in common with the honourable character of Will Sullivan in the second series of Big Finish's Sarah Jane Smith audios than with the loutish buffoonery of Duggan in City of Death.

By sheer coincidence, there are some remarkable similarities between this, the third to last instalment of the BBC 7 series, and Utopia, the third to last instalment of the most recent television series. Both stories end on a cliffhanger, which leads into the concluding two-parter, and both feature a villain who has abandoned his former ways and is now living as a human being (a story idea originally used in the Seventh Doctor audio drama Master).

Among the 22 minutes of extra features at the end of the CD, Havers commends the structure of Sutton's story; McKenzie sings the praises of the soundproof booths Big Finish use when recording these productions; and Chadbon remarks upon how much the company's facilities have improved in the short space of time since he recorded his appearances in Sarah Jane Smith. Havers reveals that he has been following Doctor Who since its very first episode, though he has rarely taken it very seriously; McKenzie confesses she has never seen or heard the programme before; and Chadbon talks about the fan mail he still receives for his roles in City of Death and The Trial of a Time Lord. We also get to hear a bit more of Tim Sutton's beautiful incidental music.

No More Lies might not have been great on the radio, but it makes a magnificent CD. No word of a lie.

Richard McGinlay

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