With Lucie Miller: Season Three.

Audio As you can see I'm pretty well rushing through this series now. With shorter story durations and faster pacing, they're very easy to "boxset" in a way which wasn't the case with the longer stories in the earlier iteration with their ponderous duration, leisurely spreading their stories across two and a half hours filling two cds. But it's worth nothing this series sees another structural change with the fifty minute stories giving way to two half hours with a cliffhanger in the middle, seemingly at the behest of the BBC who ran the radio broadcasts one of these episodes at a time, filling up the rest of the "fourth dimension" with some other reading. Which makes it all the more strange that they would subsequently then miss some of them out. With only Orbis, The Beast of Orlok, The Scapegoat and The Cannibalists being transmitted in 2010 (which is why, as I said last time I waited until now to listen to any of this).  There'd be a three year gap before series four turned up, broadcast on a daily basis during two weeks in January 2013 as part of the anniversary celebrations.

The overall deliberate theme of the series appears to be sequels featuring monsters and villains we haven't seen for a while outside of non-Who licensing or the novels though it's odd that two of the choices happen to be insect based.  At a certain point, someone has to write a story about the Wirrn invading Metebelis 3 and attempting to impregnate the spiders, indeed it's amazing Big Finish haven't commissioned that for the Tom Baker series.  Imagine the arguments between a Wirrn Queen and The Great One with Tom refereeing.  There are other recurrences too.  Lucie's possessed or threatened with possession a lot again (to the point that she references it herself in the final episode).  Two of the episodes are underpinned by very similar backstories.  There's also a slightly darker tone for much of the duration, even in the notionally more comic stories.  But overall it simply underpins what I love about this franchise at its best, the sheer variety of stories and its constant ability to reinvent itself.  Same incarnation, vastly different approach to the storytelling compared to even Storm Warning.


It's The Time of the Doctor and Eighth has amnesia again were my primary thoughts by the end of the first half of Nick Briggs and Alan Barnes's script and didn't ever really leave.  The similarities to Eleventh's regeneration story are striking as his six hundred year stint on the eponymous planet sees him befriend different generations of the same jellyfish family to fighting off and negotiating for that local population in the meantime.  Of course, there's a certain winking element to adding these centuries to the Doctor's age when the television version was going about saying he was definitively nine hundred and something years old (often in a trailer friendly tone).  Only recently has the whole idea of him offering a definitive age become anathema, the notion being that when he does provide an estimate he's either guessing or flattering himself.  By my reckoning if you include this, the Earth arc, the business in The Sleep of Reason and other odds and sods, the Eighth Doctor's incarnation lasts over a thousand years.


"Aaah it's The Invasion of the Krynoids or the The Krynoid Invasion." "Caption: The Seeds of Doom."  Jonathan Morris's script does the usual business of Who sequels of taking the original idea and developing it further so on this occasion we have a more powerful human hybrid and an environmentalist antagonist (with shades of the sci-fi series Continuum in that the things he's fight for aren't wrong it's just that his approach is as Lucie might say,"Well dodgy.")  Lysette Anthony's really bright as a kind of proto-Kate Stewart in the first episode (sounding a bit like her too) even if her fate diverges somewhat.  The arc for the series is also reinforced as Big Finish attempt to do the post-The Ancestor Cell forgetfulness, his six hundred years of relative solitude now leading to him having to deal with a certain Capaldi-like misunderstanding of humanity and lack of memory when it comes to Terran customs like driving with Lucie in the Clara role of caring so he doesn't have to, though he's rather more gidding and good natured about it so we'll see.

The Beast of Orlok

Nicholas Briggs introduced some of the BBC Radio 7 broadcasts of these episodes and apparently has to declare an interest beforehand.  Before Orbis he explains that he wrote some of the episodes including that one and produced them all.  But his sheepishness about the whole thing only increases in from of The Beast of Orlok, when it becomes apparent that not only is he introducing it, he's the first acting voice heard and then he appears over the title music announcing what it is and who the actors are.  Maximum Briggs.  Written and directed by Barnaby Edwards, it's an entertaining twist on Hammer horror in that it somewhat abandons the whole notion of being that in the second half, replacing it with something akin to Delta and the Bannermen.  Finally gives Miriam Margolese a Who credit, the television version having omitted to include her even in the revival.  She's the gloriously named Frau Tod and one of her contributions to the story is simmered down, the TARDIS Datacore to, "She saved the Eighth Doctor from being boiled in tar."  It's that sort of story.

Wirrn Dawn

Clyde!  The TARDIS Datacore notices, quite rightly, that Daniel Anthony was the first black actor to play the Doctor, albeit not his own incarnation but Matt Smiths.  Here he's called upon to play a grunt with a soul in a homage to Starship Trooper featuring the giant insects from the Ark in Space.  Written and directed by Nicholas Briggs, after some brilliant Gravity-like spacesuit action (and years before the release of that film) (and in audio where the special effects cost nothing) and the odd burst of action, it's mostly a talky, philosophical affair about the nature of war and why we fight.  Notable at the time of broadcast for being the first Wirrn story since a BBV production there are some useful developments to the mythology, including how the insects appropriate the psychology of hosts which means that if the hosts are cows, they become basic themselves.  At this point, the Doctor's initial forgetfulness post Orbis seems entirely forgotten and his relationship with Lucie is just as it was last year, albeit that the tone of the stories is a touch darker.

The Scapegoat

Hobbled by having a resolution which is essentially a reimagining of Wirrn Dawn which isn't necessarily writer Pat Mills's fault but it is interesting how these two stories were released one after the other and no one noticed that the ultimate justification at least for what's occurring is roughly the same.  Not helped either by Mills writing Lucie as though she's utterly unhinged or at least very drunk which is enunciated by Sheridan who plays up the comedy.  Features Paul Rhys as the eponymous and romantic hero of the title which isn't something which happens much any more, and Samantha Bond and Christopher Fairbank as goat people which just adds to the slightly (slightly?) unhinged tone.  As a side note, for years I used to say "scapeghost" instead thanks to seeing an advert for the old PC text adventure, this being the first place I'd ever seen it and no one corrected me for years...

The Cannibalists

Something I was especially curious about before listening to these audios was why Wirrn Dawn failed to receive a BBC 7 broadcast but something called The Cannibalists would sneak through.  Now I know it's because the former features some truly gory body horror, whereas this is the relatively innocent story of sentient server robots similar to The Autonomy Bug from the Doctor Who Magazine strips (with a dash of the Tenth Doctor novel The Pirate Loop).  As with a lot of Morris's work, it's impossible not to think of Douglas Adams here, especially when one of the robots is spouting poetry in hexadecimal and an entire action sequence featuring sacrifice and explosions turns out to have been entirely pointless because the Doctor didn't happen to ask the right question.  Phil Davis is clearly having a diode of a time as the eponymous android whose sole purpose is to strip his peers down for parts.

The Eight Truths / Worldwide Web

Another epic season finale in the mold of the new television series with a global threat (that's pretty easy to guess once you've heard about the cult, the crystals and you look at the title but I think you're supposed to) and what's now a pretty contemporary setting (made in 2008 it's set in 2015).  As ever writer Eddie Robson is really on point with his characterisation of the Doctor and Lucie with the former displaying all the bravery and also wit which turned me onto him being my favourite Doctor in the first place.  But the script's satire is itself very brave in places; was this the reason it wasn't ultimately broadcast on the radio?  In the process of wrapping up the story threads begun back in Orbis, with elements such an artificial sphere containing an electronic afterlife which seem to have influenced Steven Moffat's thinking later in at least a couple of stories.  Notable casting in the form of Sanjeev Bhaskar and Stephen Moore, or Colonel Ahmed and Eldane as they would be on television later.  Can't wait to find out what happens in Bla-

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