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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles


Author: Jacqueline Rayner
Performed by: Maureen O’Brien
Publisher: Big Finish Productions
RRP: £8.99 (CD), £7.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78178 091 6
Release Date: 31 March 2014

On a visit to early 20th-century Earth, Vicki receives a dire warning – if she leaves in the TARDIS, she will die. Unable to join her friends, Vicki is given an audience by a psychic called Violet, who contacts voices from beyond this mortal plane. One of those voices is Vicki herself, who reveals what will happen at the ship’s next landing place – and what terrible fate awaits...

Judging by the back-cover blurb (quoted above) and the front-cover illustration (which shows the Doctor and Vicki in Classical garb), I had assumed that the prediction of Vicki’s demise would be somehow connected with Cassandra in The Myth Makers, the story in which Maureen O’Brien’s character left the television series. It could be that writer Jacqueline Rayner is deliberately playing upon such an expectation.

Instead, the setting for the narrated scenes of this story is an extra-terrestrial one, a planet surrounded by brilliant stars of such intense luminescence that the TARDIS crew need to protect their eyes (shades of The Dark Planet). The togas they are wearing are explained by the fact that this story has been craftily crowbarred in between The Romans and The Web Planet.

In this Companion Chronicle the twist is that the companion is having the story told to her – by her own future, deceased self. The listener will inevitably have doubts as to how this can be (because we know that Vicki didn’t die on an alien world), as does the living Vicki herself (because she doesn’t believe in spiritualism). The initially sceptical girl is soon startled by the accuracy of the information that is recounted about her travels and her fellow travellers. As events move towards their fatal conclusion, the audience may well wonder how Vicki (and Doctor Who continuity) can possibly get out of this. However, there are fleeting but telling inconsistencies within the narrative, which the “present-day” Vicki picks up on at around the same time as the listener will. These are clues that all is not as it appears to be.

Unfortunately, in the end we are left with a degree of uncertainty as to which parts of the narrative can be trusted and which cannot. Still, it’s an engaging tale while it lasts, and one that is enlivened by a convincing dual performance by O’Brien as the two Vickis and Jacqueline King (who played Donna Noble’s mum, Sylvia) in a witty but not over-the-top turn as the psychic Madame Violet.

There’s something coming through from beyond the keyboard... I think it’s a mark out of ten...


Richard McGinlay

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