"If there's no way of getting around something, you've just got to plough through it."

That's William Russell, Kirsty Young's guest on Desert Island Disks on Friday morning at Nine o'clock. And now on the new look Behind The Sofa, it's time for our afternoon play. Some spoilers abound in this review of the new BBC7 story, No More Lies.

That's more like it. You might have detected my note of caution when writing about the last couple of stories, but this was really excellent, a perfectly pitched, mind shattering bit of drama that pushed all the right buttons and ended on a brilliant, if not entirely unexpected cliffhanger. Congratulations to everyone involved. But quite why is it so brilliant, given that it deployed a genre cliché like a time loop, featured my bugbear of the Tolkeinesque alien race name and a Hungarian folk song? Well, tain't what you do, it's the way that you do it ...

The opening of the episode was deliberately disorientating, dropping the listener into what sounded like the second half of a two-part story or the closing quarter of a spin-off novel. I've always like this kind of narrative technique - it grabs your attention and places you in the position of having to imagine whats gone before and in this case, unlike School Reunion, for example, the adventure really was in full swing with only scraps of exposition here and there to explain what was going on.

With the intercutting between the Doctor in distress in a derelict spaceship and the garden party it seemed as though the narrative temporal order had been broken in the style of the film 21 Grams, a time loop already in full swing, the reasons for the unfolding events becoming apparent at the close of the story. Ho and indeed hum, I thought as I had Vietnam style flashbacks to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Cause and Effect and Big Finish's own Seventh Doctor story, Flip Flop. The only casualty of that war is causality. Or something.

But we would never hear how the Doctor and Lucie and Nick ended up battling each other on that ship. The adventure instead headed in a completely different direction and for once this series, for very good reasons, my expectations were subverted and I actually found myself being caught up in the drama, really wanting to know what happened next.

About the only side effect of this do not disturb approach to exposition was that the back story to the Tar-Modowk wasn't entirely clear, their presence as a being slightly bolted on as one more complication in the climax. But on the whole nothing else really disappointed, as the reasons for the creation of the loop and the importance of its ultimate destruction were entirely understandable and by that I mean actually explained scientifically and emotionally. And that's really saying something.

Although the disintegrating space hulk featured some fairly generic disintegrating space hulk sound design, I could absolutely see and smell the garden party trapped as it turned out to be in an endless cruel summer. It quite rightly sounded as though it had dropped in from a Radio Four afternoon play, obviously helped by the marvelous casting Nigel Havers and Julia McKenzie whose voices perfectly captured a particular time and place and social grouping. I expect this is the same kind of garden party we saw in Black Orchid with a country pile attached.

Havers was an excellent scoundrel, oscillating from the wild life to love, truth and honesty. Zimmerman was cut from similar cloth to Sebastian Grail from Seasons of Fear, but unlike that Nimon-lover, he had tact, using technology to prolong the life of the one he loved. Evil, sure, but also in love. McKenzie's poignant performance as his love Rachel, helped by some very realistic scriptwriting from Paul Sutton meant that I took her to my heart and her ultimate fate was gut wrenching.

The music was stirring and distinctive, a violin sound with a Hungarian twang developed from that folk song sung by McKenzie as a centre piece to the episode. I've always been a fan of world music (as my near complete collection of Rough Guide compilations proves) and although I can't admit to getting along with this kind of folk music (I much prefer the French sound) this was quite beautiful and exactly the kind of unexpected bit of business which for me is the hallmark of good Doctor Who (see also the Barbershop quartet in Shada). I could see how it might not be to everyone's taste though and on first listen it did seem to be a bit long, especially since the rest of the story was so intriguing.

Despite all that, this was also a play for fans of the audios and Doctor Who in general. Liberal use of the cloister bell. The reappearance of vortisaurs with the Doctor acknowledging he once owned one as a pet and then taming one and calling her Margaret (bit of politics). The Doctor mentioned too that he knows what it's like to be forgiven. I wonder what for. Something that happened to Charley and C'rizz or something earlier than that? And bless him Tom Chadbon, playing Gordon, or I can't believe he's not Duggan, with all the comic timing we know and love. With all the talk of him being in the police were we supposed to infer that he really was the man in the mac who dashed around Paris thumping people? I hope so.

The relationship between the Doctor and Lucie has developed somewhat since last week. As well as the shy boy actually admitting to likes the girl and her inferring it was because of her arse (something he didn't totally deny) he was quite happy to let her fly the Tardis and take the credit for working out exactly what was causing part of the problem. It's not love in the first degree, but it seems right that after spend time together they really shouldn't still be arguing as they did in the opening story. Watching Tegan moan for two seasons wasn't exactly fun and it's good that they've let these two misshapes warm to each other.

Cleverly, Lucie was far less acerbic and more likeable, showing real sensitivity with Rachel. Another clever bit of writing from Sutton, recognizing that for the cliffhanger to work, we really need to see the sudden appearance of the Headhunter and what she might do the companion as a real threat. For the first time in the series, I really empathized with the girl when she said: "I wonder if I'll ever have that kind of love" Just as she was snatched away -- and we understood why the Doctor cared so much that she was gone, not just happy to be able to wash his hands of her, as he might have been not too long ago...

Next week: The season finale begins. Delete ... delete ... delete ...

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