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Audio Drama Review
Space travellers are warned to keep away from the area of the planet Asphya and its unremarkable moon Erys. This is not the best place to materialise the TARDIS, then – as the Doctor discovers when his ship is raided by the imp-like Drachee, and his companion Flip is carried away by them... However, the TARDIS is not the only stricken vessel in the region. Aboard a nearby space yacht, the Doctor encounters a woman who holds in her head the secret of Erys – a secret that has been suppressed by amnesia, or worse. Flip, too, is about to learn Erys’s secret. The trouble is, once you know Erys’s secret, you can never escape...
I often find myself looking forward more to the audio dramas that feature the return of familiar friends or foes – like Sil in last month’s Antidote to Oblivion. These tales are more of a known quantity, unlike original stories such as this one. I mean, anything could happen! I have no idea what to expect! It’s a strange attitude to have, I suppose, especially for a fan of Doctor Who, a series that prides itself on the flexibility of its format, the fact that it can travel to different times and places, and take on the guises of different genre forms. I mean, anything can happen! We have no idea what to expect! Surely that’s a good thing.
I might have been more excited about this particular release if I had noticed beforehand the name of its writer: Andrew Smith, the author of one of my favourite Tom Baker stories, Full Circle.
As soon as I actually started listening to The Brood of Erys, I knew that I was in for an engaging and thrilling ride. As in Full Circle, Smith takes us to some fascinating alien environments, and we get to examine some intriguing forms of life, including the giggling and cackling Drachee, and their formidable “parent”. There’s some great voice work here, with seemingly the entire cast doubling up as hordes of Drachee, and Brian Shelley as their controller, whose tones are at once hollow yet mighty, intimate yet distant. There are some delightfully squelchy sound effects from sound designer Steve Foxon, who also provides a hard-hitting musical score.
Flip (Lisa Greenwood) benefits from a more substantial role than she had in Antidote to Oblivion, spending much of the story separated from the Doctor and bravely facing various creepy and gruesome perils on the hostile moon Erys. In her absence, the Doctor (Colin Baker) teams up with the amnesic Sarra Vanser (played by Nicola Sian, alias Clara Oswald’s mum in The Rings of Akhaten). There’s also further discussion of the fate of Peri, so it would appear that Big Finish is definitely going somewhere with this plot arc...
I needn’t have brooded. The Brood of Erys makes for very entertaining listening, and I’m glad it came into my orbit.
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