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The Two Masters (Credit: Big Finish)

Written by John Dorney
Directed by Jamie Anderson

Cast: Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Geoffrey Beevers (The Old Master), Alex Macqueen (The New Master), Lauren Crace (Jemima), Russ Bain (Blore/Baron Jarvill), Esther Hall (Tazmeena/Bauza/Mum), James Garnon (Sebastian/Gorlan), Neil Edmond (Sarlon/Gorlan/Time Lord)

Big Finish Productions – Released June 2016

There’s always a slight sense of trepidation when approaching a release which has attracted as much interest in advance of its release as TheTwoMasters; inevitably there is a question mark as to whether it will live up to the promise of its central conceit or, like several multi-Doctor audio plays before it, end up feeling like an over-hyped disappointment? Well, this reviewer is pleased to say that overall this play has a lot to recommend it. John Dorney’s script proves to be an enjoyable conclusion to this rather unusual trilogy of adventures, especially when explaining how the events of the two previous plays are connected. To an extent, Dorney was working to a shopping list set up by script editor Alan Barnes and so despite this reviewer’s previous criticism of the opening play of this sequence, AndYouWillObeyMe, the explanations provided in this release offered a certain amount of retrospective appreciation for that play’s plotting by Barnes.

Without wanting to give too much away, unlike some previous releases from the earlier Big Finish years which were sold on the basis that they would bring multiple incarnations of the Doctor together only to renege on their promise, TheTwoMasters contains lots of scenes featuring both incarnations interacting together. Having possibly jumped the gun with my over-favourable assessment of Alex Macqueen’s performance in last month’s VampireoftheMind, it is Geoffrey Beevers’ turn in this release to appear to be having the most fun out of the two rather chalk and cheese personalities of the infamous renegade. Beevers also seems to get a lot of the best lines particularly when criticising his future self in a manner which recalls John Hurt’s wry observations about the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors in The Day of the Doctor. The references to the Master’s continuity are well used and the story is so Master-centric that Sylvester McCoy barely appears in the third episode. There is a nice performance by Lauren Crace as this month’s proto-companion Jemima, another new character with definite potential for future appearances. The only slight disappointment is that the Doctor reappears to save the day very much in the manner of a Deus-ex-machina, even though we all know he’s bound to do so, the ending has a feeling of possibly one too many resets being pressed.

Overall, however this is a very worthwhile listen. Whilst it doesn’t penetrate as deeply into the Master’s character as the 2003 classic Master did, it still shows that after forty-five years, the Doctor’s very own Moriarty still has a lot of mileage left in all of their incarnations.

Filters: Big Finish Audio Seventh Doctor