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The Pursuit Of History (Credit: Big Finish)

Written By: Nicholas Briggs
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs

Cast
Tom Baker (The Doctor), Lalla Ward (Romana), John Leeson (K9),  David Warner (Cuthbert), Toby Hadoke (Mr Dorrick), David Troughton (Mr Edge), John Dorney(David Goddard/Oceanic Airforce Commander), Lisa Bowerman (Conglom-Net Computer/Oceanic Airforce Pilot) Jez Fielder (Neville Sanders/Drudger/Ecidien Cerebus Bird/Albert Chatterton/Salonu Prime), Jane Slavin (The Laan/Salonu). Other parts played by members of the cast.

Released by Big Finish July 2016 - purchase via Amazon UK

 


 

Big Finish's seventh part of the Fourth Doctor's fith series (thats a lot of 'ths'!) opens in 1859 with a steam engine about to be robbed by a character called Cuthbert, and his band of men. In the far future, a space platform is reeling from the escape of a creature called the Laan, which has been powering the platform. Meanwhile, on the TARDIS, Romana and K9 are going on a bird hunt. The idea of Romana and K9 in the bowls of the TARDIS on an 'avian hunt' is a beautiful one, and where they find it might surprise you. The avian was mentioned in the last episode, and I'm nsure will be a plot point that will be picked up again in the future. Back in the console room the Doctor detects something approaching in the vortex. It is the escaped Laan, which appears inside the TARDIS and takes Romana. It is, of course down to the Doctor and K9 to rescue her, and also to find out exactly what Cuthbert is up to.

I must confess that The Pursuit of History left me, at times a little confused. Cuthbert (played by the fantastic David Warner) has appeared in a number of previous stories in Big Finish's Doctor Who universe. Me being a fairly new convert found myself a tad lost. Cuthbert is essentially an intergalactic, time jumping dubiously moraled businessman. The head of The Conglomorate. Not knowing the history, or of his previous relationship with the Doctor was initially a disadvantage for me, but after a quick look at The TARDIS Datacore, and I was up to speed not only with Cuthbert, but also his villinous assistant Mr Dorrick (played with relish by Toby Hadoke - who'd have thought that Hadoke could play scheming so very deliciously?), and the Laan.

There are many fantstic moments - trust Big Finish to successfully overcome K9's mobility issues by giving the Doctor an earpiece with which to communicate with his robotic dog. Why hasn't this been done before? Plus it's hilarious when Cuthbert's communication device picks up their conversation. Oh - and the Doctor calling the TARDIS 'Old girl' put a smile on this fan boy's face.There is also the Cerebus bird name dropping the Brigidier, and Romana's new friend (voiced by John Leeson)on the space platform, who put me in mind me of a subservient Sully from Monster's Inc.There is also a vist to the year 182059, with an out of control TARDIS causing some concern to the Australian authorities of that time. My word, a TARDIS does make a rather loud bang when it crash lands!

The only real downside of the story is that the Doctor and Romana are seperated very early, and don't get back into each other's company for the duration of the story, this left me feeling a tad robbed, as I love the chemistry between the two characters. Tom Baker and Lalla Ward have done so very well at rekindling their on screen relationship for audio, it seems like too much of a waste to not have them together for the majority of this episodes run time.

There is though a lot of peril. The TARDIS is REALLY put through the mill, and there is a great set up for part two that not only leaves Romana in a very tricky situation, and the Doctor about to put the TARDIS through another quantum gateway that will surely destroy the old girl, but also reveals who the real villain of the piece is. It is something that has been hinted at for the run of this series of stories, and finally pays off. The visual images that you get when listening to this audio are absolutely stunning, if this were televised, it would have cost a bomb. Nicolas Briggs has pulled off a marvel - I can't wait for part two.

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