If you need a fun-filled set of adventures to brighten your day, look no further than Donna Noble: Kidnapped!

This set of stories was released by Big Finish in March. It really was perfect timing for the kind of mayhem that only Donna Noble can provide. This time she is joined by an old friend from school and what we get is an entertaining girls weekend through time and space.

Out of this World by Jacqueline Rayner

This story starts us off with some classic, bold Donna Noble for everyone who missed her. She’s back on earth catching up with her old friend Nat and trying not to bicker too much with her mother. When a night of speed-dating arranged by Sylvia takes a mysterious turn Nat decides to become the “Scully” to Donna’s “Mulder” (or really the “Donna” to her “Doctor”).

It really is a joy to see Donna leading an investigation with her very own companion. There’s just the right amount of fun and sass infused into this murder-mystery. Catherine Tate and Niky Wardley give Donna and Nat the easy and immediate chemistry needed to make their adventure work. Since the actresses have known each other so long it is easy to believe these characters are life-long friends. 

Donna and her adventures may be full of fun and mayhem but her story has always walked the line between comedy and tragedy. Jacqueline Rayner does a fantastic job balancing those elements by exploring Donna’s feelings in the aftermath of The Library. There’s a brilliant scene between Donna and her mother as Donna tries her best to convey her loss and connect with Sylvia, but of course she can’t quite explain it and the moment is lost.

It was also interesting to hear Donna talk about losing trust in herself after seeing her entire reality as a falsehood. She really does need a break. (And speed-dating is not the most therapeutic activity after losing a husband.) As much as Donna has lost some faith in herself, the story never does. Donna gets herself into plenty of bad situations but it is clear that we should be confident in her. She can handle anything and so she does.

Spinvasion by John Dorney

Spinvasion really is Donna’s chance to handle it all. She can’t really fly the TARDIS too well but The Doctor isn’t the best pilot either so we can give her a pass. The plot follows Donna and Nat as they try to stop a PR company that is helping an empire invade and enslave the planet. Even without The Doctor there is no way Donna can walk away from people who need her help so they get right to work.

The metaphor might be a bit too on the nose but the caricature of the PR executives and their invading employers still makes for plenty of funny moments. It’s a well-paced adventure and the women get a revolution going to save the day, but I’m not too confident the future is very bright for the Valdacki race, unless they invest in more fact-checking education.

Now that Donna and Nat are on an alien planet together there’s another interesting layer to their dynamic. Donna is so used to all of these life and death situations. She deals with the bad stuff so she can experience the amazing things out there. Whereas Nat is not used to the terrible things happening on this planet and she really doesn’t want to be. It makes Nat a more interesting character because she handles herself very well on this planet. She plays the role of companion perfectly and was instrumental in saving the day. She would do very well on the TARDIS full-time, but not everyone who is capable wants that life. It’s clear already that while she can have a good time on this trip she would not choose this life like Donna has.

Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) - Big Finish
Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) – (c) Big Finish

The Sorcerer of Albion by James Goss

Time for some magical madness! There are knights on fire, snarky holograms, and zombie monks! Donna is mistaken for Merlin and someone really needs to tell Nat to close the TARDIS door. This story is much more focused on Nat as she tries to save the Day (and Donna) from a greedy and cowardly old wizard, intent on stealing the power of “Merlin” and her TARDIS.

Nat gets some unexpected help from two places: the wizard’s kind granddaughter, Vivien, and a TARDIS hologram in the shape of her husband. These helpers allow Nat a chance to vent and freak out without worrying her friend, but also a chance to show just how good she is. Nat’s bravery shines through and she is a joy to follow on this journey.

James Goss packs in the suspense, action, and mystery. However, the true magic in Albion is “the power of friendship”. All three women support and encourage each other beautifully. It is really nice throughout this boxset for Nat to see Donna as the inspiring woman she truly is. On a more practical note, Nat forming a friendship with Vivien gains her the only ally who actually knows what is happening in this crazy castle.

In the previous adventures Nat and Donna have both been hiding some things, from themselves and each other. So through the course of this story and the lies they have to untangle they start being more honest with themselves and each other. They are so much stronger for it and that comes in handy as they head on into their next problem.

The Chiswick Cuckoos by Matt Fitton

Now on to rescuing The Doctor from a cryofreeze. He’s been waiting a few weeks now but, to be fair, our heroes were busy. The story starts with a few curious scenes but the title gives a fairly good hint as to what is happening here. The body-snatcher shenanigans connect us back to Out of this World.

This story creates more fun and excitement for the characters. However, I wish the idea of the duplicates running around for a month was explored more deeply. There didn’t seem to be enough time in the story. The villain was defeated a little too easily but Donna got some great flirting in with the cavalry so that made up for it.

As with the others, this adventure is not all smiles and laughs. The Doctor had to communicate with Donna psychically, using the psychic paper and her own head. The psychic paper bickering was very funny, but The Doctor going inside Donna Noble’s head was a reminder of what he is going to do in there one day soon. That message is driven home near the end as the characters talk about the importance of memory. It was a very emotional and fitting ending and hearing Donna refer to the TARDIS as her home makes her future all the more painful.

Overall

Thankfully, through the power of Big Finish, we did not have to say goodbye to Donna forever after she left the show. This latest set of adventures is just another example of how much more she has to do and to say. I would absolutely love another team up with Nat! Catherine Tate and Niki Wardley bounce off each other wonderfully, making for a hugely fun listen. Of course there is also never enough of Jacqueline King as Sylvia Noble, a true force of nature. This release was a fantastic reminder of just how much I miss Donna and how brilliant she will always be. More please!

Donna Noble: Kidnapped (c) Big Finish

Synopsis

This title was released in March 2020. It will be exclusively available to buy from the Big Finish website until May 31st 2020, and on general sale after this date.

Donna Noble has come home. But she’s about to be whisked away by aliens – and they’re not as friendly as the Doctor!

After the trauma of the Library, Donna wants a break, to see old friends and family, to remind herself of normality.

Only Donna’s new normal involves trips through time and space and visiting alien worlds. So when she and BFF Nat start looking into strange abductions, they are dragged into a whole new universe of trouble…

1. Out of this World by Jacqueline Rayner

Donna’s home, but she’s not quite herself. Sylvia has some ideas to bring her out of herself – involving an old friend, and speed-dating…

As schoolgirl BFFs Donna and Natalie get reacquainted, a mysterious stranger dogs their steps. Is the Doctor keeping tabs on her, or is the truth far more sinister?

2. Spinvasion by John Dorney

Donna and Nat have been stolen – along with the TARDIS – and they find themselves crash-landing on an alien world.

On the planet Valdacki a very successful invasion is already underway. And it’s one that has the very best PR.

3. The Sorcerer of Albion by James Goss

Trying to get home, Donna and Nat end up in the right place at the wrong time – the Middle Ages!

A monastery is under siege from the Burning Knights, and the great Sorcerer Parval calls on the assistance of another great mage. He has summoned Merlin herself – or as Nat knows her, Donna Noble!

4. The Chiswick Cuckoos by Matt Fitton

Donna’s home, but she’s not quite herself. Sylvia couldn’t be more pleased to see her daughter finally getting on with her life.

But an alien plot is nearing completion, and the world needs saving. The Doctor is nowhere to be found, so it’s all up to Donna – and Nat!

Cast

  • Catherine Tate (Donna Noble)
  • Jacqueline King (Sylvia Noble)
  • Niky Wardley (Natalie Morrison)
  • Sebastian Armesto (Garrison)
  • Timothy Bentinck (Ganthak)
  • Isla Blair (Marge)
  • Phil Cornwell (Parsnip)
  • Anthony Howell (Adrian)
  • James Joyce (Josh Carter)
  • Nisha Nayar (Coleridge)
  • David Schofield (Parval)
  • Dan Starkey (Dennis)
  • Lydia West (Vivien)

Credits

  • Script Editors: John Dorney and Matt Fitton
  • Written by James Goss, Matt Fitton, Jacqueline Rayner and John Dorney
  • Cover Artist: Tom Webster
  • Director: Barnaby Edwards
  • Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
  • Music: Howard Carter
  • Producer: David Richardson
  • Sound Design: Howard Carter

Donna Noble: Kidnapped! is available now from the Big Finish website. The title is priced at £24.99 on CD and £19.99 to download. The Big Finish App, available for free on Apple and Android devices, makes listening even easier.

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