Hoo-boy! The latest Seventh Doctor monthly adventure from Big Finish is out! It’s called ‘The Psychic Circus‘ and has everything a fan like me could ever want; more from ‘The Greatest Show In The Galaxy‘! Count the number of joyful exclamation marks that follow, maybe make a game of it and tally them up at the end. That’s the kind of review this will be. You have been warned.
If you’re a Seventh Doctor fan then you’re probably just as excited for this release as I am. As a relatively new Whovian, Sylvester McCoy was the first classic Doctor I dipped my toes into. Two stories in particular captured my imagination more than any; ‘Paradise Towers‘ and ‘The Greatest Show In The Galaxy‘. I had no idea that they were written by the same person at the time, though it now makes perfect sense. Well, Big Finish have made my month by bringing back Stephen Wyatt!
A Land Before Joy
‘The Psychic Circus‘ is both a prequel and/or a sequel. It’s not entirely clear, or maybe it is and I need to listen to it again. That’s a pro for a story like this. You can go into it with no prior knowledge but it also makes you want to revisit the original TV story. Rediscovering those characters and the plot may help fill in any blanks. It also entices the listener to play the drama again so you certainly get your money’s worth.
Wyatt does a great job of traversing familiar ground while still making things fresh and new. He takes us through the origins of how the circus came to be, whilst also pulling the Doctor along for the adventure when a Spam-bot invades the TARDIS. It’s nostalgic and at the same time has originality. Only one part feels tagged on and that’s the inclusion of the Master.
Master Class On Casting
James Dreyfus, however you feel about him, does an adequate job with what he’s given. My main complaint is that he doesn’t feel like the Master that should be there. I can appreciate that they wanted to bring him into the main range of stories but it didn’t quite click for me. It feels more like a Geoffrey Beevers style Master and I longed for Anthony Ainley. Regardless, Dreyfus is the Master here and his presence is limited so it’s not overly distracting.
A massive highlight was of course having Ian Reddington return as the Chief Clown. From a part that makes a lasting impression on viewers, more for his appearance and movement than his voice, Reddington rises to the occasion on audio! His transformation from desperate wannabe to Chief Clown is excellent, if quick. Chris Jury also returns, playing the role of King Pin. The entire cast do wonderful work and Sylvester McCoy is spot on as usual. There are times I visualise the younger man goofing around. His voice is unique, full of charm and warmth.
Modern Day Warrior
Steve Foxon does brilliant work with the music too. It goes from having hints of Rush’s Tom Sawyer to Vangelis at the circus. If that’s not the best mix for a Seventh Doctor story about The Psychic Circus then I would love to hear what is.
I admit there’s almost nothing this production could have done to let me down. Having Stephen Wyatt and Ian Reddington return was always going to go down well with me. Add an interesting plot device, the ability to need/want to re-listen and that music by Foxon, it’s an automatic winner! Dreyfus is the one jarring difference here but it’s not so distracting to pull me out of the drama.
Is it perfect? Probably not, but it’s a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. I could have easily listened to another couple hours of this story. In fact I would have loved this to be a box set instead of a monthly adventure, but perhaps that’s just my bias seeping through. Regardless, for fans of those classic Stephen Wyatt TV adventures this is sure to be a worthy follow up/prequel.
You can pick up your copy of ‘The Psychic Circus’ at the Big Finish website.
Lots of fun for the family, at the Greatest Show in the Galaxy!
When a junkmail robot invades the TARDIS, the Doctor gets led down an unnervingly familiar path.
Meanwhile, space beatniks Kingpin and Juniper Berry just want to hitch rides and busk – until a greater purpose calls.
The Doctor’s past and Kingpin’s future are entangled by malevolent forces. The Psychic Circus is just beginning: it may lack clowns, but it already has a Master…
- Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor)
- James Dreyfus (The Master)
- Sioned Jones (Morgana / Minister)
- Chris Jury (Kingpin)
- Anna Leong Brophy (Juniper / Ragnarok God 2)
- Ian Reddington (Chief Clown)
- Andrew James Spooner (Panpipe / Whydini / Ragnarok God)