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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
Sisters of the Flame


Starring: Paul McGann
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £10.99 (CD), £8.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 310 1
Available 30 July 2008

The richest man in the galaxy has just bought a backward planet with no obvious mineral wealth in the outer reaches of the universe. An obscure mystical sect has been revived after centuries of neglect. A new race of aliens is hunting for prey. Why? As the Doctor and Lucie attempt to discover the answer, it becomes clear that someone is attempting to resurrect the past - and they need a Time Lord to help them achieve it...

As with last year’s season of Eighth Doctor and Lucie adventures, this one ends with a two-part story, of which this is the first instalment. However, in the style of the new television series (and also early ’60s Who), each episode is individually titled.

This instalment had the working title of Kidnapped (which Sheridan Smith uses in the interviews at the end of the disc), but its eventual title, Sisters of the Flame, makes it clear that it sees the return of the Sisterhood of Karn, who previously appeared in The Brain of Morbius (which, conveniently for those who aren’t familiar with the events of that story, has recently been released on DVD). One of the sisters is played by the seemingly omnipresent Katarina Olsson, though this time she’s playing a much older character than her usual range (and her image has been neatly aged up in Grant Kempster’s illustration on the CD booklet’s centre spread). Also putting in a return appearance is Nickolas Grace as the unscrupulous Time Lord Straxus.

There’s no Solon on the planet Karn this time, but Kenneth Colley exhibits a similar kind of insanity - often quiet, occasionally shouty - as the zillionaire Zarodnix. Meanwhile, Alexander Siddig need have no concerns about typecasting having played Deep Space Nine’s Dr Bashir for seven years, as here he portrays a giant centipede police officer called Rosto! The actor sounds very different to Bashir, even when interviewed at the end of the disc.

Again in common with recent series (and also ’60s seasons) of television Who, this particular episode is “Doctor-lite”, meaning that the Doctor (Paul McGann) is mostly absent from events (having been kidnapped in the opening few minutes). However, though this factor was necessitated by McGann’s availability, it also serves a dramatic function. Nicholas Briggs’s script demonstrates Lucie Miller’s (Smith) strength of character, as she is forced to cope without the Doctor and seeks to rescue him.

The episode ends on a cliffhanger that will fan the flames of fans’ excitement over next month’s concluding episode...


Richard McGinlay

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