The Doctor brings Bernice to a planet where Christmas is done right. It is all mince pies and mulled wine but Bernice can feel that someone is wrong with this world. The pair are soon swept up in events and Bernice must face the prospect that this might be her final hour…

TWISTS AND TURNS

James Goss has always been a brilliant writer. Period. His work features plenty of twists and turns which he specially designs to fit each story and keeps the listener intrigued right up until the very end. And ‘The Hesitation Deviation’ is no different. It is littered with twists that keep the listener guessing right up to the end of the tale, a tale told to us through the eyes of his companion Bernice Summerfield.

Designed to round off the 2016 series of Short Trips, ‘The Hesitation Deviation’ is a Christmas tale for The Seventh Doctor. One must wonder why he never has much luck with that time of year. He spends much of it fighting invasions or succumbing to regenerations. So how can he love that time of year, when so much bad stuff happens to him and his friends?

What can go wrong?

Despite the inclusion of Bernice Summerfield, a companion introduced after the end of the classic series with ‘Survival’, the Doctor seems to lark about with the kind of frivolity he enjoyed his travels during series 24, buying himself jigsaws and repairing broken Christmas lights. This time it really seems like the Doctor will get a good Christmas, full of snowmen, mince pies and mulled wine on a planet which does Christmas properly. It seems like things can’t go wrong.

But from the off, Goss manages to create a sense of unease, something which Bernice picks up on from the moment they arrive.

Benny

Bernice Summerfield has been a companion for just over 20 years now, and actress Lisa Bowerman shows no signs of wanting to leave the role. Bowerman powers through the script with ease, the kind of ease that comes from someone when they have been doing their job for years. Not once does the story falter or waver thanks to the brilliant script and Bowerman’s narration. She really understands Bernice, almost on a spiritual level. But Bernice has a terrible decision to make, to save the Doctor she must forget him forever.

Goss plays this story out like a final story for Benny, like this is the last time she will ever see the Doctor.

Her Final Hour?

I liked that Bernice was recounting her tale to a robot-therapist and Bowerman manages to capture the breathless, breakneck speed of the situation that Bernice now finds herself in. Both the past and present aspects of the story weave nicely together and give us a very satisfying payoff, something which has made stories like these stumble slightly in the past. But that isn’t the case here.

Now, like all Doctor Who Christmas stories, it is neither ground-breaking or an instant classic. But what it is, is a Benny story, something which is always a treat and Lisa Bowerman manages to instil a real sense of urgency while not losing the sense of fun this 35-minute story needs. It is a real Christmas treat. Or a treat for any time of year!

Blogtor Who Rating: 8/10

The Hesitation Deviation is available to download now direct from the Big Finish website.

Synopsis

The Doctor brings Bernice Summerfield to a planet where they get Christmas just right. But this year, something’s gone very wrong. An ancient force has been hunting the Doctor for a long time, and finally it has found him. As it closes in on the Time Lord, Bernice must make a truly terrible decision. One that she’ll immediately forget.

Producer Ian Atkins
Script Editor Ian Atkins
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

Written By: James Goss
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman

Cast

Lisa Bowerman (Narrator)

 

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