Doctor Who: Damaged Goods by Russell T Davies adapted by Jonathan Morris (CD review).

May 13, 2015 | By | Reply More

Long ago and far away, a writer struggling to make his mark on the world wrote a ‘Doctor Who’ novel called ‘Damaged Goods’. It features the Seventh and, up until then, the last Doctor to make it to the TV screens. Fast forward to an improbable timeline and the super-fan becomes showrunner Russell T Davies and launches the Ninth Doctor onto an unsuspecting world. Fast forward again and some fans are still begging RT to return and make it all better again. Meanwhile, the rest of the world moves on and Big Finish plucks the novel ‘Damaged Goods’ full of prescience and familiar plot lines and recreates it as an audio adventure with the text adapted by Jonathan Morris for our ears and the legend moves on.

DWho-Damaged-GoodsCD

‘Damaged Goods’, written in 1996, features the Seventh Doctor as played by Sylvester McCoy. He’s already showing signs of not being totally honest with his companions or the human race. Speaking of companions, here he has a boy and girl. Both of them are from the far future and the boy, Chris Cwej (Travis Oliver), bears a resemblance to Captain Jack. The girl is Roz Forrester (Yasmin Bannerman). Both are 30th Century police and have previously travelled with the Doctor in various novels.

Arriving on a rundown housing estate, the Doctor discovers that there is something very odd about one particular family, The Tylers, including the ten year-old Gabriel who has his own particular charm. The little girl, Bev (Georgie Fuller), who remembers the Doctor from a meeting with her mother, Winnie (Michelle Collins), ten years before. She is very afraid of something. Meanwhile, the local drug dealer is in seven kinds of trouble and there is something very alien about to erupt on the Quadrant Estate. Lucky then that the three companions are about to move straight into a flat as somehow they have been on the housing list for a number of years.

Already we see the scope of ideas that will divide the fans when we get to the TV series. It is big in its bigness and ambitions and must have delighted the fans who were existing in the desert of no Doctor and not even Big Finish to console them

This is a proper adventure with lots going on and, occasionally, I struggled to keep up. There are some delicious characters including the monstrous Eva Jericho (here played by Denise Black known for her ‘Coronations Street’ role, ‘Queer As Folk’ and ‘Cucumber’ -in another words a RTD favourite). Michelle Collins is excellent as the cowed mother of two who nevertheless finds her fighting spirit.

The ending is a budget-busting extravaganza but this is a mere sideshow to the more important emotional connections made during the fight.

As a historical piece, we can draw lots of information from this that informed Russell T Davies’ later work and preoccupations. We can see how people objected to the soap opera nature that they feel took over the story of the Doctor but also the great spectacle created by such plots as the giant Cyberman in London.

Another bonus is that we have the actual Russell on the behind-the-scenes disc that really puts the Big in Finish and Russell, who was not always destined to be the showrunner, explains what was the inspiration behind this story and we can pull it to pieces over what was used and reused in the next few years.

Overall, this was a great idea for a project and happily it has lent itself to an audio adventure with the full and enthusiastic backing of the author. Jonathan Morris has the practised eye of an experienced audio author and it seems to flow very well. The scheme of adapting the novels from the 1990s is certainly a popular idea bringing the books to a new and ever hungry audience. Being part of Russell T Davies’ writing history, it also fills in a gap offering some satisfaction to the fans who waited.

Sue Davies

May 2015

(pub: Big Finish. 2 CDs 120 minute story. Price: CD: £14.99 (UK), Download: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78178-439-6)

cast: Sylvester McCoy, Travis Oliver, Yasmin Bannerman, Michelle Collins, Denise Black, Georgie Fuller, Tayler Marshall, Richard Hope, Daniel Brocklebank, Peter Barrett, and Robert Duncan

check out website: www.bigfinish.com

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Category: Doctor Who, Music/Audio

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