The Diary Of River Song Series 05 by Jonathan Morris, Roy Gill, Eddie Robson and Scott Handcock (CD review)

Our favourite archaeologist (apart from the other one) returns in the fifth series dedicated to her adventures around the universe. This time they feature a few Masters. What the universe needs is a couple of psychopaths together, what could possibly go wrong?

The Bekdel Test by Jonathan Morris 

River Song (Alex Kingston) has been broken out of prison but has arrived in another prison. This one is guaranteed escape-proof and the governor has assembled a delightful bunch of cons to keep her company. One of the really charming ones is Missy (Michelle Gomez), the latest incarnation of the Master, and she’s not happy that River has killed him before she could. River and Missy have a lot to discuss but they really shouldn’t be talking about the man they have in common.

Animal Instinct by Roy Gill 

River’s student needs to pass his test but unearthing an incarnation of the Master, at his most crumbly, is not going to help with credits. It looks like River isn’t the only psychopath in the room or the tomb and she’s going to have to think like the Master to escape. This Master (Geoffrey Beevers) is at his most evil and his voice is as creepy as it gets.

The Lifeboat And The Deathboat by Eddie Robson 

Nothing to see here just a man called Daniel (Eric Roberts) on a heap of junk in space trying to make a living from salvage. He’s got his teenage daughter, Alison (Lucy Heath), for company when she’s not sulking. River Song is getting along fine with Daniel and Alison whilst helping with the salvage.

Meanwhile, Admiral Eno (Sasha Behar) is recruiting in a sleazy bar to fill her crew roster. Ayrton Valencia (Himesh Patel) has been thrown out of the service but she’s not fussy. He’s been pressganged onto a time travelling vessel and gets fifteen minutes to get his engineering knowledge up to speed.

When a vessel collides with them, it seems things can get even more complicated. There’s a giant space serpent and a killer in stasis. Looks like everything is about to change for everyone and not a moment too soon.

Concealed Weapon by Scott Handcock 

I was wrong that the Beevers Master was the scariest because Derek Jacobi takes the actual biscuit and adds some chocolate to it.

Something is stalking the crew of an explorative spacecraft and picking them off one by one. The shipboard computer Hugo (Tim Price) seems a little confused about life signs, too. Whatever it is, the clock is ticking down and River may soon be the only crew member left standing.

Another day, another Master. This set of stories finds intriguing ways to get River and the Master in the same room and, sometimes, briefly on the same side. I think my favourite is the one with Missy as there is real fire and ice between the pair as they circle each other. Unlike other series, these stories are standalone and don’t have an arc other than that of the meet-cute with the Master. The combination allows for a spread of stories with humour, intrigue, danger and pathos and they are all exciting. There’s even an extra 60 minutes of extra interviews with the cast and crew if you can’t get enough of the Song.

Sue Davies

March 2023

(pub: Big Finish. 5 CDs 285 minutes 4 stories. Price: £35.00 (UK) ISBN: 978-1-78703-505-8)

cast: Alex Kingston, Michelle Gomez, Geoffrey Beevers, Eric Roberts, Derek Jacobi, Delroy Atkinson, Sasha Behar, Orion Ben, Timothy Blore, Richenda Carey, Eleanor Crooks, Andrew Fettes, Fiona Hampton, Lucy Heath, Laurence Kennedy, Jacqueline King, Christopher Naylor, Himesh Patel, Tom Price, Vineeta Rishi and Emily Woodward

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