Big Finish presents a new Doctor Who: Short Trip for April 2020. In ‘Dead Woman Walking‘ Ace must put her faith in the Seventh Doctor again. But will that faith prove to be misplaced?
Following a solid start which immediately attracts the listeners attention, the setup for the story is carefully presented. Not just spurted out but gently unravelled. Ace becomes attached to a parasite, incapable of leaving the planet with some particularly dire consequences if the psychic link were to be broken. But then the Doctor leaves the planet, supposedly to seek a solution to the predicament. Ace has faith that he will return but as time passes that faith begins to wane. Will he return or is this another opportunity for her personal development?
Dead Woman Walking
The relationship between the Seventh Doctor and Ace is one of the best in the history of Doctor Who. On television we saw the Seventh Doctor manipulate his companion, all in an attempt to help her grow. In ‘The Curse of Fenric‘, the Doctor must break his companion’s faith in him to defeat Fenric. It is a brutal scene, that would have a lasting effect on their relationship. Writer Roland Moore plays with this idea once more. Even though the theme of trust between these two popular characters has been explored before, it still feels fresh and, more importantly, remains engaging. But it isn’t just Ace’s faith in the Doctor returning but that he will have a solution. After all, the Doctor always wins. Doesn’t he?
Sophie Aldred is a brilliant narrator, with a lengthy back catalogue of similar work, so it is no surprise that she is wonderful here yet again. Her vocal variations help to convey the two central characters with her Seventh Doctor particularly enjoyable. Most impressive however is the way in which Aldred manages to convey the roller-coaster of emotions seen over the course of the story. With only narration and performance at her disposal, coupled with Roland Moore‘s script of course, Aldred delivers a thoroughly gripping story. Given the eventual outcome, highlighted with a very impressive final scene, it is another showcase for how good this particular Doctor and companion duo truly are.
With a running time of just over 30 minutes, ‘Dead Woman Walking‘ is an ideal distraction during lockdown. Sophie Aldred is tremendous as usual, breathing wonderful energy into the words on the page. Roland Moore has come up with an inventive setup which plays on the themes of faith and trust so influential in the Seventh Doctor and Ace’s collective journey. For anyone else like this listener who adores the Seventh Doctor and Ace then ‘Dead Woman Walking‘ is well worth exploring.
The Doctor’s meddling has taken a tremendous emotional toll on Ace over their many adventures. However, this time, it may just cost her life.
Landing in the middle of a civil war, the Doctor hoped to discreetly meddle and then slip away unnoticed. Instead, he’s managed to infect Ace with an organic bomb. A bomb with a most unusual trigger.
If Ace dies, so does the planet.