Big Finish’s Doctor Who: The Early Adventures range continues with a First Doctor, Steven and Vicki story.
This tale tackles tough ethical questions and makes it clear just how much the Doctor has learned from his travels with human. Written by Ian Potter, ‘An Ideal World’ is a brilliant blend of very traditional elements from a typical 1960’s TV serial and some very new ideas about both science and ethics.
Like many stories from this era, it opens with tbe Doctor exploring a strange new planet with his companions Steven Taylor and Vicki. At first everything seems harmless on this world, but it all goes wrong very quickly. The trio are separated and suffocating in an atmosphere that suddenly can’t support them. Their only hope of rescue comes from the crew of the terraforming colony ship waiting to claim this planet for themselves. However, their actions quickly makes things much, much worse.
Cast and Characters
In the absence of William Hartnell, the heavy lifting in this story falls to Maureen O’Brien’s Vicki and Steven, played by Peter Purves. This story has a mix of full cast scenes and narration from both Steven and Vicki, using the talents of these actors to great effect. Both actors do a remarkable job of recreating roles.
Purves stands out in particular, doing double-duty as Steven and an excellent, respectful interpretation of Hartnell’s Doctor. In the grand tradition of actors taking a break during the intense rush of mid-Sixties production, the Doctor does spend quite a chunk of this story unconscious and unable to actually speak. But the other characters take up the slack and it’s all the more rewarding when the Doctor does appear back on the scene.
The Doctor, Steven & Vicki
All of the characters are well-served by Potter’s story. Steven gets to be much more of the capable, commanding space pilot he was originally envisioned as. Vicki’s relationship with the Doctor was always very sweet, with each character having an enormous respect for the other, and that is shown off very well here. Vicki is brave and loyal but also able to smooth down this Doctor’s occasionally rough edges. She brooks no nonsense from him, but in a way that shows how much she cares and wants to protect him. The Doctor himself shows off his inquisitive desire to explore and learn. But also dealing very firmly with those whose behaviour does not meet his ethical expectations. His sometimes brusque attitude is clearly masking an intensely kind and idealistic heart.
The crew of the colony ship, The Ferdinand Magellan, is an opportunistic bunch whose rush to claim the planet pushes them to very dubious decisions. Of particular interest is the conflict between Captain Traherne (Carolyn Pickles) and Ethicist Kay (Angela McHale). These two determined women have diametrically opposed views on the right course of action once the planet’s strange secret is discovered.
Things play out much like a story from the Hartnell era though there are some notable modern touches. The science behind Steven’s resistance to illness and the planet’s menace feels more along the lines of today’s futurism, rather than Sixties ideals. The body horror behind the story’s greatest threats, The Diaspora, would creep out and disturb even today’s jaded audiences. BBC audiences of the time would likely have been truly horrified!
This is an excellent and engaging story that does a great job bringing us a taste of a fondly remembered bygone era. With some neat modern touches that will give listeners plenty of food for thought. Not to mention a few ethical quandaries and some proper scares. What more could any listener hope for?
This title was released in October 2018. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until November 30th 2018, and on general sale after this date.
Light years from Earth, a vast human spaceship hangs in orbit over a cloudy alien planet. The crew have been travelling in cryosleep for many years, looking for a habitable world to settle, and have at last located one with potential.
However, they’re not the only people to have arrived in this place. The TARDIS has landed on the planet’s surface. The Doctor, Steven and Vicki explore and quickly find themselves separated.
But it isn’t merely the hostile environment and rogue terraforming drones they’ll have to deal with. Something else is living on this world. Something deadly and waiting to consume.
It’s an ideal world. But ideal for whom?
Written By: Ian Potter
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman
Maureen O’Brien (Vicki / Narrator), Peter Purves (Steven Taylor / The Doctor / Narrator), Angela McHale (Kay / Christophe), Alex Jordan (Heathcote), Tom Stourton (Factotum / Fitzgerald / Samsara), Carolyn Pickles (Traherne), Oliver Mason (Grant / Danuka), Lisa Bowerman (Elias). Other parts played by members of the cast.
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor John Dorney
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs