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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The Haunting of Thomas Brewster


Starring: Peter Davison
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 316 3
Available 30 April 2008

Thomas Brewster is haunted by the ghost of his drowned mother. But she is not the only apparition to disturb his dreams. Every few years, he is visited by a mysterious blue box... Helped by his new assistant, the young Scots scientist Robert McIntosh, the Doctor struggles to unravel the twisted knot of temporal implausibilities that bind the TARDIS to Thomas Brewster. Meanwhile, lost in the stews of Victorian London, Nyssa must face a host of spectral creatures gathering in the fog...

Writer Jonathan Morris has crafted a complex yet alluring narrative. Each episode of this four-part story has a decidedly different flavour to it, as a distinctly Dickensian Part One (full of abject poverty, artful pickpockets and ghostly spirits), gives way to increasingly science-fiction-oriented instalments. The effect is accentuated by the lack of recap at the start of each episode. The Doctor (Peter Davison) and Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) appear only fleetingly in the first part of this time-bending tale, which instead focuses its attention on establishing the troubled character of Thomas Brewster (Hollyoaks’ John Pickard). The TARDIS travellers don’t make their proper entrance until Part Two, but this only adds to the intrigue...

Director Barnaby Edwards coaxes great performances from his cast - though it was perhaps a mistake to ask Trevor Cooper (Revelation of the Daleks, Star Cops) to play multiple roles, because his voice is too distinctive for doubling up like this. Leslie Ash (Men Behaving Badly) is far more successful in this area, remaining largely unrecognisable in five different roles.

While I’m discussing how things sound, the production is marred by a couple of technical flaws. I found some of the dialogue (especially Davison’s) too quiet compared with other elements in the mix. Also, the theme music at the start of Part Four is badly cued in, omitting the first few fractions of a second of the opening whoosh.

I was going to add Simon Robinson’s incidental music to my list of (not complaints, that’s too harsh a word) whinges, for being too in-your-face and ill-matching the period setting. However, his recurring Brewster theme quickly grew on me, and now I can’t get it out my head (in a good way).

The story ends on a cliffhanger, which leads into Big Finish’s next Davison release, The Boy That Time Forgot. You may have heard that the Fifth Doctor acquires a new companion, but by means of a couple of cunning red herrings, you might be surprised by who ends up in the TARDIS at the end.

Like the lad himself, Thomas Brewster is not without its faults. Nevertheless, this spirited adventure has much to recommend it.


Richard McGinlay

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