Doctor Who: The Fifth Doctor Adventures Forty. Volume 1 by Matt Fitton and Sarah Grochala (CD review).

Hard to believe but ‘Doctor Who: The Fifth Doctor Adventures Forty: Volume 1’ has been brought out to celebrate that it’s 40 years since the Fifth Doctor made his debut in the TV Series. Way to feel old thank you very much. A fresh-faced boy then, Peter Davison proved to be a marked contrast to the Fourth and he had his work cut out to get people to move on from Tom Baker. That sounds familiar. Nevertheless, he stayed for three seasons and a 20th Anniversary special and won a few hearts too whilst also rocking the Yorkshire dales as vet Tristan Farnon in ‘All Creatures Great And Small’.

  1. Secrets Of Telos by Matt Fitton

Just after the events of ‘Four To Doomsday’, the Doctor (Peter Davison) is in the TARDIS with his three companions when Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) faints. As she recovers he has a funny turn and as he recovers finds that only Nyssa and Tegan (Janet Fielding) are present, both dressed completely differently. He asks about Adric (Matthew Waterhouse) but is met with confusion.

The TARDIS arrives on a ship heading from Telos. Professor Parry who has just had a very uncomfortable encounter with the Cybermen on Telos (TV: ‘Tomb Of The Cybermen’). It takes a while for the Doctor to convince him he really is the Doctor as he’s rather different to the little chap with the funny haircut. Unfortunately for the Fifth, his consciousness is time travelling and he is at a loss in this Adric-less future.

Not surprising to find that we haven’t heard the last of the Cybermen and a new protagonist Professor Vansom is also very interested in what they can offer. The menace of the voice of Barbara Flynn has to be the best addition here. She scares me and the timing around her appearance in the recent TV series is a bonus for Big Finish.

Guest actors include Christopher Timothy as Professor Parry, Tamsin Outhwaite as engineer Morton, Ronan Summers as Captain Hopper and, finally, Barbara Flynn as the rather menacing Vansom.

This is a very self aware sequel to ‘Tomb Of The Cybermen’ reminding us how ambition and arrogance to always result in a happy ending. Here, it is particularly poignant and almost before the Doctor can react he is drawn back into the time stream.

  1. God Of War by Sarah Grohala

The Doctor is still moving freely through his timeline and now he is reunited with his three companions with the dreadful knowledge of Adric’s future death. Can he behave differently and heal his relationship with the maths-mad boy or is it all too late?

Arriving in his own brain on one of the many times he’s trying to take Tegan to the airport the Doctor is startled to find they are in a frozen landscape. Tegan complains her uniform is not suitable for the weather. She also complains it’s her mind that should be scrambled revealing they have just come from Deva Loka (TV: ‘Kinda’).

The team bicker as usual but the twist is the Doctor’s dislocation which makes him a slightly awkward companion. He’s seeking out a deeper reason for his movement but he also has to deal with the situation on the ground.

The Viking settlement they encounter is formed of women who are trying to break away from the norm. Now they are making requests of the gods to find them some men for the annoying necessity of carrying on the settlement. The gods turn out to be Ice Warriors and they are not happy at the situation neither.

Belinda Lang plays the matriarch, Revna Ulfdottir trying to save her settlement at all costs and Matilda Ucker plays her daughter, Inga. Lang is a feisty and believable Viking.

This production shows some very aware casting. Christopher Timothy starred as the vet James Herriot in ‘All Creatures Great And Small’ alongside Peter Davison. Barbara Flynn late of ‘Doctor Who: The Flux’ also played opposite Davison in ‘A Very Peculiar Practise’. The 80s was a grand time for drama, kids.

The stories show a heightened awareness of how much the Fifth Doctor has developed in the 40 years since he was created. It was a difficult role when he was following Tom Baker and had to make his mark despite Tom’s enormous shadow as the Fourth. There was a somewhat overcrowded TARDIS and it often seemed quite a snippy atmosphere. This audio does capture some of that snippiness but there is a maturity in the relationships and more awareness from the time-drifting Doctor about the consequences of their lives together.

Of the two stories, I prefer the first simply because it has more connection to the original TV series but the second one does offer the Doctor a little bit of a do-over for everyone who felt let down when Adric dies. It’s not revision of history but simply acknowledges the gaps in empathy which were glaring in the way it was rolled over in the 1980s.Going back to those TV episodes now highlights how many things have changed for both men and women in the intervening years and mostly for the better.

Moving the Doctor around in his own timestream gives him and us of course to consider what his different behaviour might achieve. I’m intrigued to see if this is taken further and it will be interesting to see what happens next and how this is resolved. Happy 40th to the Fifth.

Sue Davies

March 2022

(pub: Big Finish, 2022. 3 CDs 218 minutes 4 stories. Price: £24.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-83868-710-6. Download: D: ISBN: 978-1-83868-711-3£19.99 (UK).

cast: Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding, Matthew Waterhouse, Nicholas Briggs, Barbara Flynn, Belinda Lang, Tamzin Outhwaite, Ronan Summers, Christopher Timothy and Matilda Tucker

check out website: https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/doctor-who-the-fifth-doctor-adventures-forty-1-2494

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