BBC Sounds’ Doctor Who drama Redacted picks up the pace as it races headlong towards its conclusion
We left our heroes Shawna and Cleo at the end of previous Redacted episode Ghosts in true Doctor Who cliffhanger style. Surrounded by monsters whose touch means death and with no means of escape. And Rescue picks up the action in equally classic style with a reprise of the action before their mysterious saviour Madame Vastra removes them from immediate danger. But as the BBC Sounds drama continues they’re still trapped on the iconic Powell Estate. More urgently, undead legions surround this former home not just of Cleo but a certain Ms Tyler on all sides. Much of the run time this week is taken up by, well, running, as the Blue Box Files gals discover that essential element of the Doctor’s world: legging it for their lives. But it’s balanced against some actual answers at last, and a horrible dilemma for the gang.
One of Redacted’s greatest strengths has been the easy and believable interplay between the three leads. And even though there’s a timely reunion with Abby, the frenetic pace of Rescue leaves little time for the series’ trademark wit and humour. But that’s both understandable and necessary as the plot moves into truly apocalyptic mode. If anything it’s a nice nod to how grounded and relatable these characters are. With the whole world going, almost literally, to hell, the time for sarcastic rejoinders and jokes about Twitter has passed.
The swift gear change from witty mystery to action packed survival drama is remarkably effective
With an action packed fight for survival, complete with helicopters, jumping out of windows, and chases in the sewers, taking centre stage, it’s such a gear change that it’s slightly surprising that writer David K Barnes and director Ella Watts manage it so seamlessly. In fact, Rescue offers some of the tensest and well dramatised action sequences in recent years of Doctor Who audio. Partly this is down to how much it trusts the audience to follow what’s going on without constant exposition. Another part of it is how the script gives Abby, Cleo and Shawna free reign to be utterly, mind grippingly, terrified of death closing in all around them. Doctor Who characters normally aren’t usually allowed such depths of terror. But here Chimimba, Craggs and Quin-Ankarah give performances worthy of final girls in a horror movie.
Doon Mackichan does sterling work too with the difficult task of stepping into Neve McIntosh’s ninja boots as Vastra. The Fife-raised actor manages to hit the unusually specific mix of how McIntosh’s natural Scottish lilt would play under the surface Vastra’s English gentility, even if she sometimes hits the Silurian’s sibilants a little hard. But more importantly, Vastra’s dry as kindling wit is still in full evidence. So is her ability to move from almost poetic musings on life and love to uncompromising bluntness.
Rescue leaves Redacted’s finale with a lot of ground to cover, and hopefully a major role for the Thirteenth Doctor
Rescue concludes with a very different kind of double-cliffhanger to Ghosts. The women have finally found someone who can tell them what the Redaction is, where it comes from, how it works, and what the Doctor has to do with it all. But how much of it can they, and we, believe? But with the fate of the world on their shoulders, will they be able to do what needs to be done to save it?
There’s now only one episode of Doctor Who: Redacted remaining to give us those answers and wrap everything up. Here’s hoping for a bumper edition this Sunday that provides a worthy ending to the adventures. And, yes please, with a healthy dose of Jodie Whittaker.
Doctor Who: Redacted concludes on Sunday on BBC Sounds
The story concludes this Sunday, with Doctor Who: Redacted available via the BBC Sounds website and app, free worldwide. Complete scripts are also available on each episode’s page for accessibility. All episode so far available now.