Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor And River Song by James Goss, Lizzie Hopley and Jonathan Morris (CD review).

May 13, 2021 | By | Reply More

The delightful pair return to get to know each other better in the three adventures in this box set known simply as ‘The Tenth Doctor And River Song’. For a start, she should definitely be the first person mentioned but maybe it scans better.

Expiry Date by James Goss

Excuse me. I received your note. I’m the Doctor.’

River really wants a little favour from the Tenth Doctor. Just a little break-in, sweetie. He’s intrigued because he knows how it all ends, she just knows what is beginning. This narrative is a series of spoken letters from one to the other. It turns into a battle of words and wit with a romantic and endearing undertone. Don’t worry there is a story as well. This is a caper with several mini-stories intriguingly included.

River always seems to be one step ahead in the brains department and the Doctor scrambles to catch to her whilst bringing down governments, inventing the post office and knighting guinea pigs. It all leads to a satisfying conclusion, who doesn’t love a mystery wrapped in smart honey?

The two leads are dynamic and strike sparks off each other. James Goss has written with heart and they do him proud. As another sweetener, there are unexpected interventions, no spoilers from me but it’s an absolute joy to listen to.

Annihilation by Lizzie Hopley

Hello sailors, planning a murder?

The hunt is on for the creator of imploding jewellery. The Doctor and River Song arrive in London, 1912, when a builder has come into a fortune of buried jewellery. She’s playing at being a barmaid, undercover or slightly under covered probably. The other barmaid receives a delightful pair of earrings as a tip from the builder but it has an unfortunate effect.

Discovering the ‘qualities’ of said jewellery, the pair travel to the 17th century to find the maker. For River, its dressing up box time and the Tenth wears an overcoat as per. It’s time for detective work and they are a dream team with only a few disagreements about proceedings.

There is a sting in this tale and a learning point, you clever thing, Lizzie Hopley.

Ghosts by Jonathon Morris

  The Doctor: ‘this is not a date.’

  River Song: ‘I’ll be the judge of that.’

The Doctor and River Song meet on a planet called Demoneze 2, said to be haunted. They witness the ghosts for themselves who just seem to be staring at something behind them. They meet some tourists accidentally left behind after the shuttle failed to collect them. It’s a Scooby Doo mystery all right as they move around the area trying to determine what the ghosts are trying to tell them and just what the mysterious mist is. Ziggy (Sam Benjamin), Dell (Emma Swan), Alfie (Tim Bentinck) and Betty (Mina Anwar) are tourists left behind when all the others are taken by the mist but something about their story isn’t quite right. River is also unclear about how long she has been on the planet.

When we learn the truth, it is incredibly moving and elegiac. Once again, the story takes us in unexpected directions, misleading and intriguing us. Don’t listen to this in a darkened room. It is really quite eerie and fulfils the brief of being a proper weird tale.

Jonathon Morris is an expert at creating atmosphere and resolving a complex story, which is full of depth and charm. The cast is small and it’s easy to learn who everybody is. It also shows how bad the Doctor is at almost handing out spoilers. The ending is both grim and hopeful, if that’s possible.

This one has also been released separately:-

Ghosts by Jonathon Morris

(pub: Big Finish, 2020. 1 CD 60 minutes. Price: £10.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-83868-331-3. Download: £ 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-83868-332-0)

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Three very different stories are constructed to deepen the bond between the Doctor and River Song. The writing is as ever extraordinary and the audio and music design bring out the 4 dimensions of the stories. I found I was moved in different ways from amusement to grief and always the stories offered food for thought about human and alien motivations and emotions. They rather cleverly incorporate some of our knowledge about River from her first appearance in the TV series.

I like that these adventures are about partners in crime (and yes I miss Donna, too). They bicker in the manner of The Thin Man husband and wife; they just need the cute dog. I loved this and I’m already on my second listen.

Sue Davies

May 2021

(pub: Big Finish, 2020. 4 CDs 245 minutes. Price: £34.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-83868-325-2. Download: £29.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-83868-326-9

cast: David Tennant, Alex Kingston, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Mina Anwar, Sam Benjamin, Timothy Bentinck, Joe Jameson, Barnaby Kay, Glen McCready, Anjli Mohindra, Joe Sims and Emma Swan

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Category: Doctor Who, Music/Audio

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