Doctor Who
Thicker Than Water

Starring: Colin Baker
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99
ISBN 1 84435 159 9
Available 25 September 2005

Three years after Vilįg was laid waste by the Killorans, the Doctor is back - with a different companion. Rossiter, now head of a tripartite government, is working to secure a peaceful future by researching abandoned Killoran technology. But he faces opposition from a campaign for the destruction of all alien artefacts, led by his own daughter, Sofia. As if that weren't enough, Sofia doesn't approve of her new stepmother either. Emotions soon boil over into violence...

This audio drama is a sequel to last year's Arrangements for War. It is penned by the same writer, Paul Sutton, though this time the directing chores are handled by Edward Salt rather than Gary Russell.

One wonders whether, had he directed it, the continuity-conscious Russell would have allowed Mel (Bonnie Langford) and Evelyn (Maggie Stables) to meet each other, apparently for the first time, in this adventure. These two companions of the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) previously met, also apparently for the first time, in Russell's Doctor Who novel Instruments of Darkness.

Those of you who wish to incorporate both stories into the same continuity could assume that Instruments of Darkness was their first meeting from Evelyn's point of view (so the Doctor instructed Mel to behave accordingly), and that Thicker Than Water represents their first encounter as far as the Doctor and Mel are concerned (and therefore Evelyn realises she must act accordingly). Alternatively, you can assume that this audio drama marks the women's second teaming by mentally inserting the word "again" after Mel's wish to "meet this miracle worker [Evelyn]" and plugging your ears when Evelyn asks Mel: "So, you're the latest model he's dragging around the universe, are you?"

If you can get past that knotty continuity problem (and I hope I've been able to help you there), then this double CD provides some intense character-driven moments, not to mention the chance to learn "what happened next" to the people of Vilįg (or, dare I say it, the Vilįg people!) and discover the final destination of Evelyn Smythe.

It does appear that the good Doctor is more in touch with his emotions these days. Writers, as well as viewers and listeners, seem more comfortable with letting the Time Lord and his companions express feelings of love for each other. Paul McGann truly broke the ice with "that kiss" in the TV movie. Since then, we've had Charley and the Doctor expressing their mutual love in the Eighth Doctor audios and all those "will they/won't they?" moments during the Ninth Doctor and Rose's association. Now Evelyn also uses the "L" word, as she and the Sixth Doctor heal the latest rift in their relationship.

Paul Sutton has, of course, written for this particular TARDIS team before, but here he also writes well for the Doctor/Mel partnership. They exchange some excellent banter, particularly during Part One.

Meanwhile, perhaps in response to a comment I made in my review of Arrangements for War, guest actor Gabriel Woolf sounds less like Pyramids of Mars' Sutekh the Destroyer this time around! Perhaps it's because the fortunes of both his character, Rossiter, and the planet Vilįg have improved, so he doesn't need to talk about death and destruction as much.

Thicker Than Water isn't quite as good as Arrangements. The story flags somewhat during the relatively uneventful - and short - second and third episodes. However, a flashback in the first episode and dramatic revelations in the fourth manage to compensate for the watered-down middle bits.

Richard McGinlay

Buy this item online
We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal! Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£10.49 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.