What happens in Scotland stays in Scotland.
The Doctor and Peri return to Earth but typically they overshoot the 20th century and arrive in the middle of the Dalek occupation in the wilds of Scotland and the Daleks are the Masters of the Earth. Times are very dark indeed and it’s not long before Peri is captured by the Daleks and robomen looking for workers in their iconic flying saucer. It’s the 1960s in your heads, admit it.
This is a tricky task taking the slightly clownish sixth Doctor and dropping him into the pre-digital age. Our Doc is still getting used to post-mindwarp Peri and their relationship is getting back to normal. There is also the quite major point that this is very much the stomping ground of the first Doctor and it is his job to help rid the Earth of the Dalek occupation. So poor old Sixie is in charge of continuity of the eventual time-line. This then becomes an adventure of not declaring himself to the Daleks. He cannot afford them having prior knowledge of his former self. I told you it was tricky.
Of course, all that goes up the spout later when he seems intent on declaring his identity right left and centre of the eyestalk. That little niggle aside, this actually turns into quite the classic adventure with the action moving to various locations and often wrong footing the listener. There is plenty of action and it kept me intrigued all the way to the end.
There is something quite disturbing about pitching the sixth Doctor against the Daleks. This is quite a gritty story with none of the romanticism that was a feature of the last time the Doctor went to the highlands, although to be fair that was in the Land of Fiction (see ‘Legend Of The Cybermen’). This time the stakes seem to be higher and the grimness of the occupation of the Daleks is highlighted quite well considering it’s an audio.
There is a stalwart cast including Tracey Wiles as resistance fighter Moira Brody and Brian McCardie (Alan Weir), Sean Biggerstaff (Ross Nicolson), Hugh Ross (Kyle Inskip) and, of course, Nicola Bryant as Peri.
‘Masters Of Earth’ written by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright successfully brings in elements of the past whilst incorporating the relationship between Peri and the Doctor and carving out a nice niche plot-line that runs concurrently with that of the first Doctor. These Daleks, unlike recent TV versions are proper scary, and there is a sense of real drama and dilemma so full marks to the writers and all the team for successfully creating the environment that feels real, right down to the seagulls. It’s Darlekly directed by Nicholas Briggs, who scores a triple by being the director the Dalek and the robomen.
(pub: Big Finish. 2 CDs 120 minute story. Price: CD: £14.99 (UK), Download: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78178-334-4)
cast: Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Tracy Wiles, Brian McCardie, Sean Biggerstaff, Hugh Ross, Damian Lynch and Nicholas Briggs
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