Vampire Of The Mind (Credit: Big Finish)

Written by Justin Richards
Directed by Jamie Anderson

Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Alex Macqueen (The Master), John Standing (Professor Threadstone), Kate Kennedy (Heather Threadstone), Neil Edmond (Boatman), Catriona Knox (Landlady), Elliot Levey (Gobernar)

Big Finish Productions – Released May 2016
Pre-order from Amazon UK

After a slightly average start to the new trilogy of Master stories with last month’s AndYouWillObeyMe, this reviewer is pleased to confirm that VampireoftheMind is a much more enjoyable affair. It’s difficult to account for this and there are probably a number of factors such as Justin Richards’ writing, the more interesting cast of characters led by Colin Baker on top form even during the slightly predictable denouement, or just the simple fact (with the greatest respect to Geoffrey Beevers whose portrayal in Master set a high standard which no subsequent actor has yet reached although Michelle Gomez has come pretty close) that Alex Macqueen’s incarnation of the Master is just so much fun to listen to.

It seems to have become de rigueur in the Big Finish canon for the Master to regularly cross his own timeline and this play is certainly no exception. There remains an air of mystery around the origins of the Macqueen incarnation since he first appeared in 2012’s UNIT: Dominion, with the suggestion in subsequent releases that he originated at some point after the events of The TV Movie. There is the briefest suggestion of a post-regenerative trauma in this story which suggests that the eagerly anticipated team-up with his earlier self in next month’s The Two Masters may yet shed some more light on these matters. Of course, given that the Seventh Doctor had clearly had no recollection of meeting this incarnation there is a rather predictable ruse used in the story’s conclusion to ensure continuity is maintained but for the sake of enjoyment this is easily forgiven.

A particular mention should also be given to Kate Kennedy as Heather Threadstone, who becomes the Doctor’s de facto companion for this story (or to some extent he becomes hers with some verbal sparring which fondly reminds of his intellectual equality with the much-missed Maggie Stables as Evelyn). There is definitely scope left for Heather to return in future stories which would certainly be a welcome possibility.

Like last month’s release, this play has a mostly standalone plot although there are clear thematic similarities with the Master’s gift for mind control once again proving to be of major importance. However, the closing moments of the play suggest that there is definitely more going on than has at first been apparent and would definitely suggest that the conclusion of this trilogy will be something to look forward to. In the meantime, this play is very much to be enjoyed on its own merits. Even if not the most original story ever, it is still an awful lot of fun.

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