Written by Nigel Fairs
Starring Nicola Bryant
When this supposed ‘short trip’ becomes a time-looping marathon, it becomes wonderfully apparent that not even a galactically mobile out of space casino can shake off some of the shadiest characters their Earth-bound counterparts are known for.
The Sixth Doctor is back with a bang and his companion Peri is in tow, this time bringing their bickering to a whole new spaceship. The Doctor has long been established to smite demons, fell armies, and to carve his legend through all of time and space. This time, he employs his sarcastic, sassy wit to slap the wrists of naughty cheaters. Yes, the Doctor has time for everybody.
No stranger to the Doctor Who Big Finish audio productions, Nigel Fairs returns to the writer’s chair to deliver a remarkably compact tale that slots perfectly into the Sixth Doctor’s canon. This time, the compact narrative charmingly mirrors an equally tight production. Starring Nicola Bryant as – well, everybody – it is imperative that Big Finish includes an actor with a vast pallet of traits; humour, charm, stellar impersonations, and all in the same package, the delivery of stimulating narration. Bryant flawlessly encapsulates all of these talents, seamlessly delivering her familiar Peri-like performance before showing off her acting range with the various voices of the Alien passengers. Bryant is to be commended for bouncing from A-Z at the drop of a hat, something which until now only the Doctor had been appreciated for – and how perfectly she plays him at that.
Prime Winner simply thrives off its small-scale production value, giving its listeners a real life setting combined with a sci-fi twist; a much-treasured staple of the Doctor Who franchise. The numerously intricate sounds of arcade machines and clattering coins really stamp this adventure with a high degree of authenticity, and when occasionally reminded that they are in space, the concept reaffirms its much-deserved position of awe. The gaming cruiser is complete with 80’s styled extravagance, lending itself fabulously to the Sixth Doctor’s eccentric retro era. However, much like the Tenth Doctor’s space liner Titanic, the reality of the Sixth Doctor’s environment eclipses the casinos more wondrous aspects.
With the TARDIS plucked from The Doctor like a claw crane prize, our heroes are isolated in a place of obscured identities, of which provides much of the audios thrills. The adventure pits the Doctor and Peri firmly on their back feet, where they must find their answers through trial and error. They have as many questions as the casino does chips, and like gamblers, they do not always get satisfactory results. The plot occasionally suffers marginally, leaving a little more to be yearned for with sporadic underwhelming reveals, yet wanting more is the abundant mark of an otherwise excellent narrative. Time is not the tool of the Doctor on this adventure, but of his enemy, and this enthralling circumstance is executed with effortless precision.
It is easy to conclude that this adventure was crafted under a tight, well-rounded ship, for the same result in a narrative. The real Prime Winners are abundantly clear here – the production staff. It is difficult to imagine if a short trip has ever used it’s time so effectively.
Blogtor rating: 9/10
Written by: Nigel Fairs.
Directed by: Lisa Bowerman.
Cast: Nicola Bryant (Narrator).
Producer: Michael Stevens.
Script Editor: John Ainsworth.
Executive producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs.
After the TARDIS gets swept up in a perilous ‘Timestorm’, The Doctor and Peri discover that they have materialised on the next ship over from their intended ‘SS Magnificent’ destination; a casino ship. With a packed 250 levels and 100 gaming rooms that conceal a not so magnificent ‘Prime Winner’, one can only wonder how The Doctor can possibly make this a short trip. Thankfully, the appearance of Peri’s lookalike stepfather gives the narrative a grounded anchor, as the laws of time are stretched all around them to raise the stakes in the best ways only Doctor Who knows how.Doctor Who – Short Trips – Prime Winner.