The Light At The End
Sylvester McCoy & Paul McGann and many more!
Released a month earlier than planned, The Light At The End is a special two-hour audio adventure from Big Finish, which sees the combined might of every incarnation of The Doctor, from pre-2005 Who, forced to take on one formidable foe, in the fight of their lives.
With most fans wanting the anniversary to be an opportunity to celebrate the whole show’s long and rich history, The Light At The End accepts the challenge and unites, with mouth-watering style, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann – along with some further surprise appearances – for the first time in Doctor Who history.
However, multi-Doctor tales can, at times, run the risk of ending up unfocused, messy affairs (Dimensions In Time, I’m looking at you), so Nick Briggs as writer/director wisely decides to keep the plot relatively simple and, although playfully using some New Series ideas and tropes, keeps things more in line with both The Three Doctor and The Five Doctors. Indeed, he outwardly borrows some elements from those serials – however, that’s no criticism.
After all, a release such as The Light At The End is designed to pay tribute to the show’s past, so why not use the elements that have worked so well before, for this kind of tale? Amusingly, the Doctor mostly ends up becoming his own companion, and the interplay is particularly joyful between the Fourth and Eighth Doctors. And, without giving too much away, Frazer Hines produces an unexpectedly sublime performance as… well, that would be telling.
It’s also to easy in the gasps of fan excitement to lose sight of the fact that at the heart of this nostalgically-tinged release, Briggs also brings us the story a very human tragedy in the form of Bob Dovie and his family, anchored by a sensitive performance by Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton. Drawn into Bob’s world, it’s soon clear to the Fifth Doctor that the most evil of all Time Lords has struck.
Yes, The Master is back and played with rather silky charm by Geoffrey Beavers (who played the renegade in The Keeper of Traken), who springs the cruelest trap into which all the Doctors fall; once the meaning of title becomes clear, the race is on to prevent the collapse of the universe itself.
A few curve-ball twists keep you guessing until the end, plus Sophie Aldred, Louise Jameson and India Fisher all have stand-out moments of dialogue, while Colin Baker sparkles. Occasionally there are moments on unfocused sound-design which may leave listeners confused, however this isn’t fatal to the story experience.
The Light At The End chooses to take a relaxed pace despite the high stakes, keeping the story simple and human. Rather hitting us with a fast-paced all-out action adventure fans of newer Who may be used to, Briggs instead lets the listener enjoy the character interplay, as the various team-ups of past Doctors and companions fall into place. Which is, of course, what these specials are all about.
The 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who is very much underway.
BLOGTOR RATING 8/10