The Well-Mannered War
by Gareth Roberts (adapted by John Dorney)

Damaged Goods
by Russell T Davies (adapted by Jonathan Morris)
Starring Tom Baker, Lalla Ward and Sylvester McCoy
The Well-Mannered War
by Gareth Roberts (adapted by John Dorney)
Adapted from the novel of the same name, the new Big Finish audio The Well-Mannered War brings The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) together with Romana II (Lalla Ward) and K-9 (John Leeson) on a joyous, creepy adventure.
Admittedly, any story that begins with a nice cup of lapsang souchong has already won me over, but The Well-Mannered War continued to endear itself to me well beyond the opening tea scene. Our heroes find themselves between two peoples who have been poised on the brink of war for an implausibly long time. Indeed, as the team dig deeper and peel back the layers of just what has been going on between the humans and the Chelonians and their oddly friendly – but recently escalating – dispute over the planet Barclow, it becomes clear that there are forces manipulating things to a greater degree than anyone could have imagined, in a series of twists that were an absolute delight to discover.
(Even, I’m sure, to anyone who has read the book and remembers exactly what forces are at work here!)
And to top it all off, through a particular quirk of local policy, K-9 finds himself standing for public office, and makes a surprisingly good politician. I mean, I’d vote for him!John Dorney has done a fabulous job of adapting Gareth Roberts’ novel; indeed, so much of this story lends itself so perfectly to being heard as well as read, from the utterly chilling mental imagery I’m left with hearing animated corpses and a sentient swarm of flies, to the sheer amount of brilliant dialogue John Leeson gets to play with as K-9 the politician.
The whole story culminates in a rather thrilling conclusion that leaves this reviewer quite keen to know just what befalls The Doctor next.
by Russell T Davies (adapted by Jonathan Morris)
Damaged Goods is a tale which expresses the kind of intimate, very human story that Russell T Davies would go on to bring to Doctor Who in his time as the series’ producer. At its heart, this is very much a story about family, of mothers facing impossible decisions about their children’s futures, and the consequences of those choices.

In this story, The Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) is joined by book companions Roz Forrester (Yasmin Bannerman, whom listeners may remember as Jabe from The Ninth Doctor story, The End Of The World) and Chris Cwej (Travis Oliver, whom listeners may also remember from The Tenth Doctor story Gridlock), finding themselves on the Quadrant, a housing estate, in 1987. It becomes clear that something is amiss, centred around the Tyler family and young son Gabriel, who seems to possess a glamour, the uncanny ability to seem nice and do well without ever making an effort.The root of Gabriel’s special skills turn out to be rather more complicated when it is revealed that his twin brother was given up for adoption as an infant, and has indeed been in a declining comatose state for years, while Gabriel has been using their psychic connection to drain his life force. Meanwhile, an ancient Gallifreyan weapon known as the N-form has been awakened, sensing the vampiric activity emanating from the estate.

Denise Black gives a chilling performance as Eva, the ruthless adoptive mother of Gabriel’s ailing twin Steven, and it’s nice to see Chris get a bit of a romance in with local resident David. The story ends on a fairly striking divergence from the original novel; in Jonathan Morris’ lovely audio adaptation, at least some of the Tyler family receive a happy (or at least alive and well) ending, where the novel saw an awful lot more death and thus ended on a rather bleak note.I’m a sucker for an ending that’s at least hopeful, if not happy, so I was quite grateful for it, while purists may or may not agree.


Thanks to Big Finish


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