Sixth Doctor Colin Baker recently went on record to say that Big Finish Productions is serving up better scripts than the BBC when he played the role on television. This has never been truer than with Quicksilver, the 220th episode of the audio adventure company’s main Doctor Who range.
Quicksiliver is penned by Big Finish regular Matt Fitton and is directed by Jamie Anderson, son of Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson. But you won’t find any wooden acting here. Between them, Fitton and Anderson have delivered a faultless piece of good, old-fashioned, solid story telling that hums along at a rapid rate of knots.
Colin Baker is on fine form as “Old Sixy”, as he is fond of calling his incarnation of the Doctor. For his Big Finish version of the Sixth Doctor has calmed down a lot from his bombastic on screen version, and made some very good friends in the form of World War II veteran Constance Clark played by Spooks’ Miranda Raison.
Baker is at his very best when playing opposite Raison, who, with her voice alone, has painted a rather austere, stiff upper lip, sort of a gal in Constance. The sort you can hear repeating Churchill’s “keep buggering on” (KBO) mantra shared with the 11th Doctor on screen.
PLANS SOON CHANGE
As Quicksilver opens with a mysterious fugitive on the run from alien hunters the sixth Doctor returns Constance Clark to Earth. It’s time for her to return to her life after her travels with the Doctor. The Doctor plans to bid her farewell before heading off to former companion Flip Jackson’s (Lisa Greenwood) wedding.
But Constance’s plans change when she finds a heart-breaking telegram about the death of her husband Henry: DEEPLY REGRET TO INFORM YOU LT-CMDR H CLARKE LOST IN ACTION. CLASSIFIED OPERATIONS. Henry was working on the top-secret military project, code-named Quicksilver, in Vienna with alien connections.
Constance soon changes her mind about leaving the TARDIS and it’s not long before she and the Doctor find themselves in Vienna investigating Quicksilver which, turns out to be connected to the fugitive and the aliens chasing him.
Fitton and Anderson must be praised for creating the standout scene between Constance and Flick who run into each other without the Doctor. It’s a beautiful scene, performed with vim and vigour by both Raison and Greenwood, that is reminiscent of the meeting between Rose Tyler and Sarah Jane Smith in the second series television episode ‘School Reunion’.
Both actresses manage to get to the heart of what their respective characters are about using just their voices, demonstrating the diversity the Doctor looks for in his companions. These two women couldn’t be more different than “jolly hockey sticks” Constance and checkout chick Flick. It’s a magical moment that will be long remembered.
ONE TO BE ENJOYED
Sometimes Big Finish stories require a fair bit of foreknowledge of the listener, for it all to fall into place, but there’s none of that here. This one can simply be enjoyed.
BLOGTOR RATING – 10/10
Quicksilver is now available to buy on CD and download directly from the Big Finish Website.
It’s the telegram Constance never wanted to read:
DEEPLY REGRET TO INFORM YOU LT-CMDR H CLARKE LOST IN ACTION. CLASSIFIED OPERATIONS.
Those classified operations concerned a top-secret military project code-named ‘Quicksilver’. A project based in Vienna. A project with alien connections.
But bombed-out Vienna is not what it was before the war – with its Strauss music, its glamour and easy charm. It’s not the time nor the place for a happy reunion. As Constance Clarke is about to discover…
And as the Doctor is about to discover, too!
Written By: Matt Fitton
Directed By: Jamie Anderson
Colin Baker (The Doctor), Miranda Raison (Constance Clarke), Lisa Greenwood (Flip Jackson), Matthew Cottle (Henry Clarke), Joel Fry (Kinvar/Rogers), Oliver Cotton (Major Callahan), Kate Kennedy (Ana).
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Alan Barnes
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs