Big Finish’s latest ‘Doctor Who Short Trip’, kicking off the 2019 run of stories, is ‘The Revisionists’. Written by Andy-Frankham-Allen it sees two close friends of the Doctor uniting to stop an alien threat.
Written by Andy Frankham- Allen
Leela and the Brigadier aren’t too dissimilar and it is quite the surprise that they never met on television. Whilst the Brigadier never ran around in a loin-cloth or brandished a knife, he was a warrior at heart, ready to do what was right, even if it put him at odds with the Doctor, much like Leela did. Andy Frankham-Allen has had plenty of opportunity to perfect his Brigadier with novels from Candy-Jar books. His strong writing ability continues to shine on audio. Surprisingly ‘The Revisionists’ is only the second script he has written for Big Finish, following ‘Time of the Intelligence’ in 2017.
Unsurprisingly, Frankham-Allen has a firm grasp on the Brigadier, allowing him to be the same recognisable character from his television persona with plenty of hints to the development he has received in his own range of novels. Frankham-Allen also has a great handle on Leela. The television series saw her gradually develop out of the ‘noble savage’ character but ‘The Revisionists’ takes her back to her early savage roots, prowling hotel corridors brandishing her knife. Listeners also get an inkling into how her mind works and of course Louise Jameson helps keep things authentic with her performance.
Certainly the biggest selling point of this story is the interaction between the Brigadier and Leela which makes for a terrific listen. Their meeting is a lot less rocky than Leela’s interaction with Jamie in ‘The Second Doctor: The Companion Chronicles – Volume 2’. Here the pair recognise their similarities and gradually come to respect each other. The Doctor is not forgotten but this story belongs to Leela and the Brigadier.
Performed by Louise Jameson
To complement the terrific script, Louise Jameson is on hand to add some masterful narration to proceedings. Jameson has always been a brilliant inclusion at Big Finish and there is something about her voice that lends itself terribly well to the format. It’s almost as if she’s sat around a campfire entertaining her fellow listeners! Appropriately Jameson doesn’t opt for a straight-up-impersonation of the Brigadier and the Fourth Doctor. Instead she captures the tones of their performances, effortlessly bringing the spirits of their characters to life.
Although it might not be the same as hearing Nicholas Courtney in the role, Jameson does a tremendous job capturing his character. Her Leela is of course superb with the savage from the Tribe of the Sevateem working brilliantly on audio. In the hands of Louise Jameson her adventures are a joy to listen to.
‘The Revisionists’ is a great way for Big Finish to kick a new year of ‘Short Trips’. It is a quiet and understated story which doesn’t feature any particularly high-stakes but anyone coming out of it thinking it needed those elements clearly didn’t understand the point of the story.
Writer Andy Frankham-Allen provides plenty of undertones about history and heritage and how important these are in any society. ‘The Revisionists’ is also a welcomed character piece for the two main characters. We get a better exploration into the minds of the Brigadier and Leela. Frankham-Allen gives us some nice moments to find out what their histories mean to them.
Louise Jameson is excellent as the narrator, effortlessly bringing the small cast of characters to life and also understands the undertones provided by the script. Lisa Bowerman also delivers some powerful direction, keeping this quieter story moving along at an enjoyable pace, never rushing matters but never letting it slow down either.
If ‘The Revisionists’ proves anything it is that the Brigadier is still as great a character as he ever was, even though Nicholas Courtney is sadly no longer with us. Something tells me he would be very proud of the Brigadier’s treatment. Very proud indeed.
Doctor Who: Short Trips Monthly is a series of new short stories read by an original cast member.
Guests at the Hôtel des Rois are being haunted by ancestors that never existed. The Brigadier was only in Geneva to finalise his retirement, but how could he resist? Investigating, the Brigadier quickly finds something unusual. A warrior in leathers. A warrior called Leela…
History is about to catch up with both of them. History that neither of them thinks is real.