Doctor WhoMusic/Audio

Doctor Who: The Lone Centurion by Sarah Ward, Jacqueline Rayner, David Llewellyn (audio-book review).

Rory returns in his own show in that fetching centurion outfit. Rory is currently your plastic pal whose fun to be with and he’s at the beginning of what becomes two thousand years of guarding the Pandorica with Amy inside.

At this point, he seems to have temporarily mislaid the Pandorica (I mean it’s big enough), so much for that undying devotion. Still it avoids all that boring standing outside waiting for it to open and Amy to pop out. This does leave him free to have some adventures to fill in the time whilst he’s looking for it.

Gladiator by David Llewellyn

‘You and your strapping great Thracians.’

Rory (Arthur Darvill) is in Ancient Rome has been in the arena, part of the rather pale and weedy gladiators from Briton. He proves to be invincible thanks to his martial arts training and his particular traits are noted by Augusta (Joanna Van Kampen) wife to Caesar (Joseph Tweedale).

Being made up of Auton material makes Rory of the Britons impossible to kill. Augusta recruits him as a bodyguard for her husband who has introduced a succession law which might make him a target.

Trouble is, it’s not really in Rory’s skill set. He’s fine with the whole martial arts defence but he’s not a connoisseur of poison as he doesn’t need to eat or drink. This is tricky.

The Unwilling Assassin by Sarah Ward

‘What kind of assassin are you?’

There’s nothing like being in the right place at the wrong time. Rory is taken on as the imperial assassin by the new Empress (Joanna Van Kampen). There is a slight problem with that because Rory is both a nurse and a pacifist. He really is going to make every effort to avoid killing anyone, awkward as the Empress is feeling rather fragile and indulges straight away in a mass killing spree. Rory has to use all his ingenuity to avoid detection. There are several hale and hearty corpses in Rome and it’s only a matter of time before the Empress smells a rat.

I, Rorius by Jacqueline Rayner

‘It’s just a dead duck.’

An unexpected promotion sees Rory as Emperor. This is definitely outside his comfort zone. There’s the whole living in the public eye and the not eating thing and the mostly being immortal thing. He confides a lot in Amy, even though she isn’t there. Luckily, he finds a friend who accepts his foibles but he’s going to need her help to survive the loving care of his head of the army, General Marinus (Max Hutchinson).

This is the first three series of Rory Williams, alone and made of plastic with a 2000 year assignment to look after the Pandorica with Amy inside. It’s great that Steven Moffat has granted access to the 2000 years prior to the reset of the Earth. Arthur Darvill plays Rory beautifully as the misfit amongst bloodthirsty Romans. He’s just trying to look after Amy. He can’t die but is a little concerned what a naked flame might do to the plastic. He also stands out like a sore thumb or a wheelie bin before plastic has been invented. Anything goes in this alternative timeline so I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next in Rory’s crazy life.

It’s very clear that these adventures are pure historicals apart from the history itself being a little ka-ka. There are certainly no aliens or other interventions in the first series and there is more ‘Carry On Cleo’ than ‘The Twilight Zone’ about the adventures and the dialogue. They are very clever and well-researched. There are some lovely references to some of the dishes enjoyed by the Romans which I’m sure are not invented by writer David Llewellyn. I’m thinking there is unlikely to be a Lone Centurion cookbook anytime soon though. Many of the ideas in the stories are taken from Roman history and this is a tongue in cheek ‘Horrible Histories’ event for grown-ups. Just don’t quote me in your essays, people.

Sue Davies

April 2021

(pub: Big Finish. 3 CDs 228 minutes. CD Price: £19.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-83868-429-7. Download Price: £16.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-83868-430-3

cast: Arthur Darvill, Ayesha Antoine, Mina Anwar, Omar Baroud, Timothy Blore, Samantha Béart, Jacob Dudman, Robyn Holdaway, Max Hutchinson, Rhys Jennings, Glen McCready, Terry Molloy, Joseph Tweedale, Joanna Van Kampen and Inès de Clercq

check out website: https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/the-lone-centurion-volume-01-2305

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