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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
Maker of Demons


Starring: Sylvester McCoy
Publisher: Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78178 893 6
Release Date: 30 September 2016

Decades ago, the mysterious time-travelling Doctor and his cheerful companion Mel became the toast of the planet Prosper, when they brokered a peace between the native Mogera and humans from the colony ship The Duke of Milan. But when the TARDIS at last returns to Prosper, the Doctor, Mel and their associate Ace find only a warzone. The burrowing Mogera have become brutal monsters, dominated by their terrifying leader Caliban – and it’s all the Doctor’s fault…!

Because of the format of the show, Doctor Who doesn’t often dwell upon the consequences of the Doctor’s intervention in the welfare of other peoples and planets. At the end of each story, the Time Lord typically bundles his companions back inside the TARDIS as soon as the crisis has been averted, and immediately sets course for their next destination.

A rare exception is the William Hartnell serial The Ark, in which the TARDIS returned to its point of departure centuries later, with the serial split in half according to the two time periods, ‘before’ and ‘after’. A similar device is used in Maker of Demons, except that here the ‘before’ segment of the story is restricted to a pre-titles sequence at the start of the first episode. At first, I thought we were still in the era of the current Seventh Doctor / Ace / Mel trilogy, and that Ace would shortly enter the scene to join her two companions. However, it soon becomes clear that this is a flashback to Season 24, before the Doctor and Mel had even met Ace. We join the pair during a celebration at the end of a seemingly successful adventure, having saved the crew of a human colony vessel and established diplomatic relations with the mole-like inhabitants of a brave new world.

What’s past is prologue, however. As in The Ark, we fast forward several years, and upon the TARDIS’s return it transpires that the previously friendly aliens have turned nasty and are now at war with the humans. Can the Doctor really be to blame for all of this?

Another, perhaps more obvious, influence upon this narrative is Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Writer Matthew J Elliott doesn’t directly reuse the plot of the play, but several story elements and many of the names of characters and objects are derived from it. For example, there is a character called Miranda (played by Lucy Briggs-Owen, sounding very different to her recurring Avengers character, Carol Wilson), though she is not the daughter of the sorcerer Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan, because here Prosper is a planet and The Duke of Milan is a spaceship. But there are some storms, a monster called Caliban, and lots of quotations from the play. Now, I’m not a huge Shakespeare fan, but The Tempest is one of my favourites, so I enjoyed all of these references.

What may at first appear to be disparate ingredients from Doctor Who and The Tempest do not make such strange bedfellows as you might think, and the whole affair hangs together rather well. Mel (Bonnie Langford) gets to do some computing, Ace (Sophie Aldred) makes an unlikely underground ally (rather like she did with Wences the Pipe Person in The Happiness Patrol) and the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) is given serious pause for thought about his tendency to interfere in the affairs of others, even with the best of intentions. You might guess the Scooby-Doo-type reveal towards the end, despite some misdirection by the writer, but for the most part I think you will find yourself entertained until our revels are ended.


Richard McGinlay

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