Doctor Who

Starring: Colin Baker
Big Finish Productions
RRP 13.99
ISBN 1 84435 022 3, BFPCD7CG
Available now

The TARDIS is reluctant to land, and ends up materialising in two places at once. The Doctor and Evelyn find themselves in England, although the exact era is at first unclear. They find the people of the English Empire preparing to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the defeat of a Dalek invasion...

This year marks the 40th anniversary of not only Doctor Who but also the Doctor's most famous foes, the Daleks. So it's entirely appropriate that the fiendish pepper pots should appear in Big Finish's first Who release of 2003.

Coming from the pen of Robert Shearman, it comes as no surprise that this tale is more idiosyncratic than your average Dalek romp. If you thought that Daleks quoting Shakespeare in last year's The Time of the Daleks was bizarre, just wait until you hear the trailer for a Hollywood-style movie about the Dalek invasion of Earth. Shearman has created a world in which the defeated invaders, though still feared, have also become figures of fun, rather like the Nazis in many popular movies and TV shows. The public have been desensitised to the Daleks' atrocities by all manner of media depictions, including merchandise such as soap, chocolate wafer biscuits and even underpants - sound familiar? There are aspects of Animal Farm in this story, as it becomes clear that the human victors of the conflict have become as corrupt as their former oppressors.

The notion of a captured alien who is not permitted to die with "honour" is similar to the plot of the BBV audio adventure, Old Soldiers, which dealt with a Sontaran. And the concept of two time periods vying for the Doctor's attention is rather reminiscent of the merging timelines in The Time of the Daleks. However, Shearman's plot is entirely different to those of his earlier stories, The Holy Terror and The Chimes of Midnight, which is a relief, as I had been a little concerned that he might turn into an M Night Shyamalan style one-trick pony.

As it happens, Jubilee is replete with surprising plot- and character-based twists. The execution of these is aided by excellent performances from Martin Jarvis as the deranged ruler Nigel Rochester and Rosalind Ayres as his equally unbalanced wife, Miriam.

I am also pleased to report that the use of the 1987 theme arrangement during December's Bang-Bang-a-Boom! was not a one-off. Jubilee makes similar use of Dominic Glynn's 1986 arrangement, which certainly helps to catapult the listener back through the mists of time to Colin Baker's TV tenure.

This audio drama is, quite possibly, the most inventive Dalek story ever told.

Richard McGinlay

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