Chapter Five - Lies

Starring: Lalla Ward, Louise Jameson and John Leeson
Big Finish Productions
RRP: 10.99
ISBN 1 84435 121 1
Available 22 April 2005

Life has calmed down on Gallifrey. Well, apart from President Romana opening up the Academy to aliens. Unfortunately, deep below the Capitol, Leela, confused and morose over the truth about her husband Andred, disturbs a malevolent power - a force that wants to be reborn by any and every means available, including Romana's past life...

It's only the first instalment of the new series of Gallifrey, but already I am more enthused by it than I was by the previous series. Mysterious connections between President Romana (Lalla Ward) and a long-dead tyrant variously called Pandora and the Imperiatrix promise much intrigue over the remaining four chapters. No, I'm not psychic, but the titles of the forthcoming seventh and ninth chapters, respectively Pandora and Imperiatrix, offer some small clues!

It's also good to know that Inquisitor Darkel (Lynda Bellingham) will have a continuing role to play, since she is deliciously cynical in this instalment, thanks to Gary Russell's script and Bellingham's performance. Darkel has made it her goal to rid Gallifrey of its interfering president. Meanwhile, Ian Hallard is endearingly wet as the new castellan, Wynter, while Ward's Romana is as wittily pedantic as she ever was.

Most exciting of all is the guest-starring role played by Mary Tamm in flashbacks to Romana's previous incarnation. Russell offers an explanation for the Time Lady's apparently frivolous regeneration at the beginning of Destiny of the Daleks. I'm not sure that this was necessary, since it has already been explained by the short story The Lying Old Witch in the Wardrobe in Big Finish's own collection Short Trips: Companions, but I suppose the two stories don't necessarily cancel each other out.

Romana's controversial decision to allow students from other time-sensitive races to attend Gallifrey's Academy could be interpreted as a foreshadowing of events in the novel Lungbarrow, in which the president has established alien embassies on the planet that once forbade off-world visitors. Furthermore, Flavia is confirmed as being Romana's predecessor, just as she was in the New Adventures novels, while the possibility of the regenerated Andred's (Andy Coleman) rehabilitation offers me hope that he and Leela (Louise Jameson) might some day have their baby. On the other hand, Russell gives Andred's familial House a different name (Deeptree) to the one that Marc Platt gave it in Lungbarrow (RedLooms), so maybe I should resign myself to the fact that these narratives will never truly co-exist.

Despite various mispronunciations of the name Romanadvoratrelundar, great entertainment value lies in Lies - and that's the truth!

Richard McGinlay

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