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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who


Starring: Colin Baker
Publisher: Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78178 300 9
Release Date: 31 March 2014

Thursday 28 May 2071: the day the Anglo-Indian Salvage 2 rocket launches. Its mission: to clean up space; to remove from Earth’s orbit over a century’s worth of man-made junk. From the window of a nearby space station, the Doctor and Flip have a unique view of Salvage 2 as it sets about its essential task – and of the disaster that unfolds when Salvage 2 encounters something it has not been programmed to deal with, something not of human manufacture... Back on Earth, the Doctor fights to save Flip from becoming part of a 500-year-old tragedy being played out in orbit, hundreds of miles above. And millions will die if he fails...

We’ve had space cowboys, now Big Finish gives us space Indians... No, not that sort of Indians, these are people from India! In fact, India has a formidable space programme, so it is right and proper that it should receive some coverage during this two-disc audio drama. Its depiction here acts as a nice prequel (entirely coincidental, I expect) to the Indian Space Agency featured in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and the Indian-based colony world described in the 1995 Missing Adventures novel Lords of the Storm (the latter two adventures are actually set within a few years of each other, which is a neat coincidence). It also allows for an unusual ethnic sound for a Doctor Who story, adding some much-needed variety.

This is a Sixth Doctor / Rani story... No, not that sort of Rani! The Indian angle allows the inclusion of Anjli Mohindra, who played Rani Chandra in The Sarah Jane Adventures – though the accent she adopts here means that she is almost unrecognisable. She plays a spirited astronaut named Jyoti Cutler – though working in space isn’t exciting enough for her, it seems, and what she really wants to be is a filmmaker!

Adding to the vocal variation is the Scottish accent of Kate McEwen, who portrays the unscrupulous Jessica Allaway, representing British interests in the UK-Indian alliance. Scottish, eh? So the people of Scotland will vote against independence, in the Doctor Who universe at least! Further pepping up the audio landscape is Howard Carter’s music, which makes good listening on its own as a ten-minute medley at the end of Disc One.

The production needs all the pepping up it can get, I’m afraid, because unfortunately it does seem to tread water for a lot of the time. Much of William Gallagher’s plot – including all of the cliffhangers, which are rather samey – revolves around Flip (Lisa Greenwood) being in peril. Some of that peril is similar to the dangers she faced in the previous part of this trilogy, The Brood of Erys.

With the events that take place in this story, especially towards the end, and all the talk about the mystery of Peri that’s been going on in this trilogy, it’s as though the writers are trying to edge Flip out of the series. I hope that proves not to be the case, as I do like the character – though we will have to wait until a subsequent trilogy to find out... At the risk of encouraging the production team to sideline Flip, I must just say that Mohindra’s Jyoti would also make a good companion...

Despite its edge-of-seat ending, I wasn’t all that enamoured of Scavenger. I really had to scrabble around to find things to say about it.


Richard McGinlay

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