As is becoming custom, and very welcome, from the good people at Big Finish comes the yearly anthology of Doctor Who stories presented in a nice, neat little package.
You Are the Doctor and Other Stories takes four very disparate and very entertaining Seventh Doctor tales and lays them bare for the listener to digest; the result is a pleasing slice of Doctor Who that sits well on the (listening) pallet.
One sometimes approaches newer writers with wariness, a creeping paranoia that a fresh scribe will not necessarily ‘get’ the characters of the Doctor and his friends, they might not understand the DNA of the show, or they might simply be a lacklustre writer. But this is Big Finish we’re talking about: they know what they’re doing and with this release, the proof is in the pudding.
With three stories from fresh scribes, these one episode adventures are punchy, fun and perfectly pitched. Come Die With Me by Jamie Anderson is a wonderfully atmospheric murder mystery reminiscent of the early nineties Doctor Who Magazine comic strips that entertained so many. The Doctor is eloquently in charge of the seemingly out of control situation and Ace is his long suffering, albeit enthusiastic, friend along for the ride to learn more about the complicated Universe they face together. The Grand Betelgeuse Hotel by Christopher Cooper is a wonderful heist caper, perfectly suited for Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred to flex the more fun side of their time travelling relationship. With sparks from Series 8’s Time Heist as well as flavours from Doctor Who’s ‘alternative season twenty seven’ (see various Doctor Who Magazine articles over the years as well as some Big Finish stories), this is a punchy half hour of entertainment. Finally, Dead to the World by Matthew Elliott offers a slower paced story to the proceedings and provides an excellent finish for the listener to sit back and breathe after the high octane thrills of the last hour with the Seventh Doctor trading on more familiar ground for his own character.
The shining star of this release, however, is the title tale, You Are the Doctor by John Dorney. The term ‘backdoor pilot’ may be familiar with a few – it’s where a television show uses one of its episodes to introduce a new set of characters, places or story ideas for a potential spin-off show. Big Finish have, be it by design or serendipity, created the possibility of a new style of Doctor Who adventures with this story in the form of an audio ‘Choose your Own Adventure’. Dorney’s episode is not only very funny as well as very entertaining, it also holds massive potential as its own series. The ability to skip to certain tracks to choose the path you create works incredibly well and also demands repeat listening. It really is a joy to go through, again and again, to enjoy all the possible outcomes. Fresh and bold, You Are the Doctor presents an exciting new series for the Big Finish world of Doctor Who, one that could have a very strong pair of legs.
This latest release of Seventh Doctor stories is a must-have to add to your collection, rich with interesting stories and new ideas that show Big Finish is still on top of its game. There’s also a subtle linking theme to the tales for listeners of all four episodes that seems to be leading into the Doctor and Ace’s future. Where it will go is anyone’s guess but you may want to stay tuned for future developments…
You Are the Doctor and Other Stories is available on CD or via download from Big Finish.