Lady Audacity Montague enters the Doctor’s world, but for good or ill?
With Doctor Who: Audacity, the largest family in the universe continues to grow as yet another steps into the Police Box and, with it, the Doctor’s world. Big Finish have by now created almost as many original companions as there’s been on TV. This time they introduce the eponymous Lady Audacity Montague. She’s a regency era aristocrat, providing a dynamic we haven’t seen before and Jane Austen references abound. Though Audacity’s not like a traditional Austen heroine. Rather, she’s more akin to the iron willed grand dames that those heroines sometimes had to deal with. And the Eighth Doctor will clearly have his hand full with Audacity’s… audaciousness, for at least a little while.
The Devouring introduces Audacity as one of the Regency nobility, and a woman in need of adventure
Audacity’s introduction in The Devouring calls to mind recent Sixth Doctor Adventures. Those brought two new characters to the Time Lord’s world. One was Hebe Harrison, who at first encounter seemed snarky and brittle. But Hebe quickly became a firm favourite as she revealed that beneath that caution, there was a loyal, courageous friend. The other was Patricia McBride, whose more difficult traits were soon confirmed as not things for us to admire. Instead they were warning signs of how unsuitable she was for the time travel life.
For now, Audacity sits somewhere between the two, waiting to land on one side of the coin or the other.
Audacity waves many red flags to suggest we may be in for a cautionary arc reminding us why not everyone can be the Doctor’s companion
Residing near the top of British aristocracy, she’s remarkably entitled and self-involved. From subverting democracy by using blackmail and extortion to bend government policy to her will, to sighing to her maid about how hard her life is, her days are full. Her nights meanwhile, are filled with stealing from the rich (though less wealthy than herself) to give to the poor, while spending her own money on the vanity project of an enormous personal telescope. Elsewhere, those closest to her says she’s capable of being “fond” of other human beings. But then they confess it’s more like how someone feels about puppies than real human connection.
She also displays a high handed attitude to the Doctor himself. A recurring theme is her belief she understands concepts better than him five seconds after he introduces them to her. Altogether, plentiful red flags warn that of a cautionary arc on why not everyone is companion material. Tellingly, when she does join the TARDIS, it’s because circumstances demand it. Though the Doctor seems quite content about it, we may never know if he’d have taken her aboard given the choice.
The Great Cyber-War picks at the golden threads Revenge of the Cybermen left dangling, answering questions nobody asked
Audacity’s first venture to the stars creates a case of the wrong companion in the wrong place at most definitely the wrong time. Her uncommon mix of naivety and self-confidence leads to poor decision making with long term consequences in The Great Cyber-War. Though that’s a subplot that perhaps will only be truly possible to appreciate in retrospect, once we know these are mistakes she learns from, or doubles down on.
The story itself is Big Finish’s prequel to 1975 classic Revenge of the Cybermen, though ‘classic’ might not be a word many fans would use to describe it. Cyber-War’s attempt to address that feels wrong-headed, however. It takes a snag list of Revenge’s various oddities and attempts to ‘fix’ things that really don’t need fixing.
Some may have idly wondered exactly how you move an entire planet like Voga from one star system to another, but the more technobabble explanations you throw at the idea, the sillier it sounds. Meanwhile, a huge chunk of the plot revolves around explaining the real reason gold is lethal to Cybermen. But that only succeeds in replacing a vaguely unconvincing idea with a totally preposterous one. Similarly, Christopher Robbie’s wonderfully unique take on the Cyber-leader, hands on hips, ready to break out into the Time Warp at any moment, requires absolutely no explanation. But be prepared to get one, anyway.
The story’s every attempt to fix or explain an old discrepancy yields only sillier results, while the original aspects of the plot rely on some bizarre character decisions
The new aspects of the plot are built are on a foundation of misunderstandings. Voga, planet of gold, is central to the war effort to save all life from the rampaging armies of the Cybermen. But the miners feeding the war effort’s inexhaustible hunger for gold ammunition are beginning to feel taken advantage of. So much so, that, egged on by Audacity, they might be about to make a very foolish alliance indeed.
It has echoes of the most recent Gallifrey set, and again feels akin to workers in WWII throwing in their lot with the Nazis because they’re sick of rationing and double shifts in the Spitfire factory. Meanwhile, the other side of the debate is represented by the smarmy genius weaponsmith Oberon Fix. It leaves the Great Cyber-War guest cast lacking in anyone to relate to or root for. Even the Doctor himself spends much of the two episodes simply exclaiming variations of “Of course!” in response to all kinds of improbable and outlandish revelations.
All in all, The Great Cyber-War’s greatest achievement may be returning to the world of Voga to tell a story even sillier than the original.
As a set Audacity will bear a repeat listen once we know where the arc that bear’s her name is heading
More intriguing than the stories in Audacity themselves is where we go from here. What sort of arc we’ve set out on? Whether a story of a new companion’s personal growth by the Doctor’s side, or of one falling short of the standards he sets for those travelling with him, we’ll have to see. But the closing moments of this opening set throw a surprising twist into the mix. It’s a delightful shock that makes finding out how Audacity’s role will develop incredibly compelling. Based on that, the upcoming In the Bleak Midwinter will be a Christmas present Blogtor can’t wait to unwrap.
Doctor Who: Audacity
The Doctor is about to gain a new best friend. Lady Audacity Montague has carved her own path in Regency England. She has also been watching the heavens, wondering what lies beyond. When the Doctor gatecrashes one of her famous society balls, Audacity is given the chance to find out…
Doctor Who – The Eighth Doctor Adventures: Audacity is now available to own for just £19.99 (collector’s edition CD box set + download) or £16.99 (download only), exclusively here. Big Finish listeners can save money by pre-ordering Doctor Who – The Eighth Doctor Adventures: Audacity along with December’s In the Bleak Midwinter together in a bundle for just £38 (collector’s edition CD box set + download) or £33 (download only).