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Audio Drama Review
St Matilda’s College, Oxford is haunted. The building was formerly a convent and, so the story goes, three ghostly nuns wander its passages during the hours of darkness. The story goes on to say that anyone who sees the ‘three sisters’ will not be long for this world. When one of the students mysteriously disappears, the Dean of the College, Dame Emily Shaw, has no option but to call in the police. Her call appears to be answered when a Police Box arrives in her study. The Doctor and Leela have come to investigate and uncover the dark secret that has lain buried beneath the college for almost a thousand years…
So there were these three nuns, you see, and… No, it’s not that kind of story!
For the second month in a row, we have a Fourth Doctor adventure that is just the right length. Often I find myself wishing for a four-parter, or feeling that the story is a bit slight, but once again we have just the right amount of plot here. On this occasion, the writer we have to thank is Jonathan Morris.
His choice of setting is also a good one: an old convent, which is just right for creepy goings-on. As in all the best Tom Baker stories, though, this isn’t all out-and-out horror, terror and grim forebodings. There’s plenty of humour, too – from Leela (Louise Jameson) pointing out that the Doctor’s explanations usually make things seem more complicated rather than less so, to the Time Lord’s groan-inducing parting pun.
What is slightly out of keeping with the late 1970s era that is being re-created in this range is the return of Rowena Cooper as Dame Emily Shaw, the mother of Third Doctor companion Liz Shaw, who previously appeared in the Companion Chronicle The Last Post. Fear not, though, for her identity is fully described for those of you who have led a cloistered existence (!), and once we’re past the awkward business of explaining to her why this version of UNIT’s ‘Doctor John Smith’ looks different from the last one, Dame Emily also fits right in. The Fourth Doctor seems to have a rapport with strong-willed, elderly female intellectuals, doesn’t he? See also Amelia Ducat in The Seeds of Doom and Amelia Rumford in The Stones of Blood.
All in all, I’ve enjoyed these last two releases so much that I didn’t even notice the absence of K9 until the trailer for next month’s The Fate of Krelos. I’ve even got over the fact that the TARDIS cloisters are not involved!
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