Audio Nu-Who. Nu-Humans. One of the most evocative speeches in the Ninth Doctor era is from The End of the World when Cassandra is attempting to gloss her status as the last human given that there still seems to be other homo-sapiens tottering about. “I am the last pure human. The others mingled.” She says. “Oh, they call themselves Nu-humans and Proto-humans and Digi-humans, even 'Humanish, but you know what I call them? Mongrels.” It always seemed to be a set up for some future story in which we’d meet examples of these human offshoots but even in the direct sequels (New Earth, Gridlock), the bipeds in hospital and stuck in traffic are as recognisable as the show’s own production team. Except perhaps for the vestal virgins.
Now, finally we have a chance to meet the Nu-Humans in Cavan Scott and Mark Wright’s The Nu-Humans. Amy and her boys visit a moment in human history when terraforming is out of favour because it can’t quite deal with all planetary conditions. On CRHX-756J, commonly known as Hope Eternal, heavy gravity and volcanoes make it entirely inhospitable but its huge mineral deposits make it entirely attractive to speculators. Rather than modify the land, the people are transformed, their DNA rewritten to accommodate longer arms and a thick, scaly exoskeleton. Rory’s alarmed, especially as they still have recognisably British names like Trevor and Claudia and generally go about their business like regular humans.
All of which is relatively interesting. Except, unfortunately, Scott and Wright haven’t been able to apply it to a relatively interesting story which is quite surprising considering their sterling work elsewhere at Big Finish and in the Obverse. The TARDIS lands, finds a deceased example of a Nu-Human, are captured by the locals and accused of murder, locked up and we’ve reached as much of the plot as is included in the inlay synopsis but there isn’t much else. In a standard old Who four episode structure, this would be episode one. But there isn’t an episode two. It’s a base under siege adventure without the siege. After a surprise story point, we’re waiting for the extra twist. It doesn’t happen. Shame.
But there are still loads of positives. This is another magnificent reading from Raquel Cassidy (cf, The Art of Death), who once again offers pitch perfect vocal renderings of the Doctor and especially Amy, her uncanny impression of Karen Gillan suggesting at times the Scottish actress is reading in herself. That’s aided by a near-forensic understanding of the regulars and it’s their rapport which keeps us listening. There’s even a development of the Doctor/companion relationship as the Doctor simultaneously admonishes Rory for asking silly questions while simultaneously utilising Rory’s ability to ask silly questions so that he doesn’t have to. Nu-Who, Nu-Humans, new way of looking at the TARDIS’s crew.
Cavan Scott and Mark Wright’s The Nu-Humans is out now from AudioGo. Review copy supplied.