Christopher Ryan and Dan Starkey team up for a lively Sontaran adventure with Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor

The Sontarans and the Rutans’ war continues with Born to Die, the third is Big Finish’s loosely connected series highlighting their eternal conflict. This time it’s the turn of Colin Baker’s Doctor to get involve himself, ably assisted by India Fisher’s Charley. Of course, since Charley was in the first story in the sequence, alongside the Eighth Doctor, she spends Born to Die pretending to know less about the warlike potato heads than she actually does…

Though this latest batch of clones quickly wrong-foot our favourite Edwardian adventuress. While the Romanesque ‘Sonturions’ of Battle of Giant’s Causeway drew on the same character DNA as the strangely adorable Strax, here she faces Sontarans at their most vicious and warlike. It’s less clear, however, why the Doctor keeps making doomed appeals to their better nature. After all, he most certainly does know better.


Born to Die proves nobody can morally grandstand like the Sixth Doctor

The reason for the Doctor’s pleas is the Sontarans’ recent arrival on the planet of the Nox. A timid forest dwelling species they’ve evolved the gift of perfect camouflage – able to make themselves and others completely invisible. But a conflict between two warlike species if about to interrupt their peaceful existence. (And if that setup sounds distinctly familiar, then you may have watched the Stargate SG-1 episode The Nox at some point.)

The Sontarans see the Nox as just another potential strategic advantage over the hated Rutans. The Doctor, obviously, is desperate to protect their way of life. While his attempt at mounting an ethical argument for them to be left alone is never particularly likely to persuade the invaders, it does suit Colin Baker’s bombastically moralistic performance down to the ground.

Indeed, the main delight of Born to Die is just how much fun everyone seems to be having. Baker is on top form, while India Fisher sparkles throughout with all her usual charisma. Moreover, we get three different Sontaran actors this time out, in the dome headed forms of TV’s Dan Starkey and Christopher Ryan, supported by Sontaran newbie Jon Culshaw. Naturally, they double and triple up as various characters. Yet there’s undoubtedly a new energy and bounce as they play off of each other.


Only lightly tying itself to the overall Sontarans vs Rutans arc, Born to Die is perfect for those looking for a quick, fun Doctor Who romp

The unique selling point of Sontarans vs Rutans, of course, is getting the two classic monsters in the same place at the same time. First time Doctor Who writer Tiegan Byrne holds the malicious jellyfish offstage for as long as possible. It’s an effective move which builds the mystery and anticipation. When they arrive, it’s an impressively unexpected way that we haven’t seen before. Morever, it succeeds in boxing the Doctor in to a classic moral dilemma, brilliantly executed in both script and performance.

Born to Die is only lightly ties in to the rest of the series by a few references to past and future events. But it’s completely possible to enjoy as a standalone adventure. Moreover, as satisfying as many of Big Finish huge arcs can be, in an era of box sets there’s something refreshing about such a quick, light, self-contained outing at the cheaper price point a standalone release allows. Listeners may already be invested in this ongoing arc or just want a fast paced, fun, Doctor Who adventure. Either way, Born to Die is an highly satisfying romp.


Doctor Who: Born to Die. Cover by Sean Longmore (c) Big Finish Sixth Doctor Sontarans vs Rutans Charley Pollard
Doctor Who: Born to Die. Cover by Sean Longmore (c) Big Finish

Doctor Who: Sontarans vs Rutans – Born to Die

The war between the Sontarans and the Rutans has been going on for millennia. And is likely to continue for millennia more. A terrible conflict with no care for consequences or collateral damage. Billions have died with no end in sight.

Its reach can encompass ancient Ireland and a forest world in the far future. Encounters with UNIT and a Doctor no more.

From the outside these battles may seem disconnected. But sometimes there is a common thread. And unpicking that could destroy everything.

When a trip to the planet Taxodon goes wrong the Doctor finds himself with mere hours to prove himself innocent of murdering a Sontaran. As more die, the Doctor and Charley need to uncover the cause and why the Sontarans are even on this planet… if they have time.


Sontarans vs Rutans: Born to Die is available to purchase for just £10.99 (collector’s edition CD + download) or £8.99 (download only), exclusively here.


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