The Crash of the UK-201 is a unique and emotional tale that takes listeners to some greatly unexpected places. This isn’t the kind of Doctor Who story that you might typically expect, but when something this tasty comes along, it is a delicacy not to be missed.
The Doctor has warned companions from the very beginning never to tamper with history, even with the best of intentions, but rarely are the consequences of such tinkering made so very clear.
Picking up on the cliffhanger from Entanglement, the Doctor, Vicki, and Steven are in the TARDIS. Having happily wrapped up their last adventure, Vicki suddenly disappears. She immediately finds herself in her own past as a passenger on the UK-201. The very ship that she was living in the crashed remains of when the Doctor, Ian, and Barbara rescued her. But she remembers everything from that life and can easily prevent the crash to save everyone on the ship, including her own father! Why wouldn’t she take the chance to alter history? What could possibly be wrong with doing so much good for so many people? Of course, such choices are never as simple as they might at first appear.
To say too much about the story would spoil it. It doesn’t give too much away to say that she does change her own history and lives several variations of her personal future and then has to deal with the consequences of her choices. For fans of Maureen O’Brien’s Vicki, this tale provides a deeper development of her character than all of her television appearances combined. Although Steven does play a pivotal role, and Peter Purves plays him with his usual panache, the focus is truly on Vicki. O’Brien embraces the opportunity to really dig into her character and brings Vicki to life from 15, to middle age, to an extremely elderly 170! The emotional range of her experiences is amazing as she deals with joy, grief, and everything in between.
The Doctor is sidelined and absent for most of these four episodes, but the story itself is so riveting that his presence is hardly missed. Long-time fans will enjoy seeing how Crash fits in and around the edges of William Hartnell-era stories. There are many little nods to Doctor Who history, such as the suggestion that Vicki made a living writing stories about her adventures under some strangely familiar titles like Vicki and the Crusaders.
If you are a fan of the first Doctor’s era, and especially of the duo of Steven and Vicki, this is a story that you will not want to miss. Clever, heartbreaking, funny, and tense, The Crash of the UK-201 is a rare opportunity to truly dig deep into the character of one of the series’ earliest leading ladies.
Written By: Jonathan Morris.
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman.
Maureen O’Brien (Vicki / Narrator), Peter Purves (Steven Taylor / The Doctor / Narrator), Michael Lumsden (Newton Pallister), Carol Starks (Captain Odessa Grey), Jemma Churchill (Carmen Scheffler), Arthur Hughes (Lieutenant Thorpe), Stephen Fewell (Jeran Dalton), Eve Webster (Carla / Maria Dalton), David Cooke (Additional Voices). Other parts played by members of the cast.