Death in Blackpool

There’s Death! There’s Blackpool! There’s Death in Blackpool!

What Christmas would be complete without a small alien invasion? I don’t know either!

Paul McGann, Sheridan Smith and Helen Lederer star in Death in BlackpoolAt Lucie’s request the Doctor set sail for Christmas 2009 in an attempt to have a nice quiet trip for once. But where would be the fun in that story? So, writer, Alan Barnes cooked up a nice little Christmas treat for all the listeners. Which means the Doctor and Lucie are in for one heck of a ride.

For starters, they don’t quite make it to their proper destination, which as it turns out was thanks to Auntie Pat, or should I say “Auntie Pat”? This time Auntie Pat played by Helen Lederer, who plays the character so well you wish she was your auntie. Pat is a little older and in a bit of a bad situation, so she calls on the Doctor for help, but not necessarily for herself, but for Lucie. Seems Pat is finding her life a little hard to bear so long and her and the Doctor share a secret. (Not that! Get you minds out of the gutter! Listen to The Zygon Who Fell to Earth to find out what).

Soon after running into Lucie’s favorite footloose and fancy-free Aunt, the group find themselves coupled with Father Christmas – yes, you did read that right – after they are nearly mowed down by a yellow hot rod. (Trust me all of this makes sense in the story, which is highly entertaining as well as really good at pulling at the old hear strings).

But as if this wasn’t enough to deal with it seems that someone from “Auntie Pat’s” past has come back to haunt her. Or worse, be her. And if they can’t be Pat they will need to find someone else to be, again and again. This puts Lucy in a bit of a bad situation as she finds herself face to face with this ghost from the past and she could potentially be walking down a very dangerous path.

The Doctor meanwhile has to face a situation of his own. A dilemma so great that even he might be powerless to stop it. But where your friends are concerned, your mind may not be thinking as clearly as it should. Can he save the day and still follow the rules of time?

Alan Barnes delivers an emotional journey this month with Death in Blackpool, a story that would slot seamlessly into the new series itself. It has humor, action/adventure, aliens, and tears. It seems that whenever Alan writes a Big Finish script we get nothing short of masterpiece. If the Steven Moffat doesn’t hit him up for a TV script it would be a shame.

Moving on to the next mast stroke in this play would be Paul McGann himself. Thanks to the talent behind the Big Finish plays, Paul gets to show us his own talent and really gives us a great sense of loss. Loss for what we could have seen grace our TV screens all those years ago had his TV Pilot become a series. As much as I enjoy Peter, Colin and Sylvester in their respective Big Finish eras, there is something far more special in the  Paul McGann years. Here we have the only official Doctor whose entire era is a run of audio plays, save his first adventure. Audio plays that continue to push the limits and test new ground. Just like any new era of Doctor Who should.

Add to that Lucie Miller, a very modern companion played by Sheridan Smith, and the gap between classic series and new is beautifully bridged.

And say what you like about story arcs, but they the fact is if done well, they work. And here we get to tie up one that has started since the Doctor and Lucie’s first year together as traveling companions. Themes are not forgotten and for that this story is all the better for it.  Pick up a copy of Death in Blackpool and let it take you back to Christmas past and see if you Christmas woes stack up to Lucie Miller’s.

Death in Blackpool is out now from Big Finish, £10.99 on CD or £8.99 for download.

Brian A Terranova


Doctor Who and me go way back. I first discovered it on my local PBS Station WHYY in the suburbs outside Philadelphia when I was a young kid; though I am uncertain of the exact age.

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