Series 7 of the Fourth Doctor Adventures continues with Tom Baker as the Doctor!
After January saw the seventh series off to a rip-roaring four part start, this next run of Fourth Doctor Adventures reunites Baker with Louise Jameson as Leela. As well as an old nemesis: the Osiran God Sutekh, voiced by Gabriel Woolf.
The Fourth Doctor Adventures return in this new dual volume box-set format. With so many wonderful different ranges now available from Big Finish Productions, it seems a prudent choice to compile Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor series into a handful of weightier releases. It makes each release feel like an event and is perfect for binge-listening.
The Shadow of London by Justin Richards
The TARDIS arrives in London in the 1940’s but something is wrong. Where is everyone? Those the Doctor and Leela do come across are the worst kind of English stereotypes. Who are these exceptional toffs? This story excellently plays with your expectations and keeps you guessing right to the end. The Doctor and Leela seem genuinely stumped by the mystery in hand here. As Tom Baker says himself this utterly fantastic story is played with gusto by the regular and guest casts; with great performances from Darren Boyd as Hemmings and Catherine Bailey as Maddox. Justin Richard’s unexpectedly gripping mystery was actually my favourite of the bunch.
The Bad Penny by Dan Starkey
We find ourselves in the Cross Keys Hotel and its manager, Ron Tulip, is having a tough time with guests leaving without paying. The Doctor and Leela arrive as a time paradox overwhelms the hotel. This story was penned by Dan Starkey, who plays Strax in the modern TV series. I was surprised to learn that this story was originally longer and Starkey admits he found it challenging to trim it down to a two-parter. There are some great ideas in this story and it feels wonderfully 70s; very of its time for Tom Baker’s tenure as the titular time lord. However the story doesn’t quite have enough breathing room to develop. There are brilliant comedic performances by Keith Barron as Lord Tulip and Greg Haiste as Ron. All I can say is I’d like to hear more from Dan Starkey, but perhaps in a format where he has more time to further develop his ideas.
Kill the Doctor! and The Age of Sutekh by Guy Adams
Finally we move in to the climatic finale of Series 7 and the anticipated return of Sutekh. In the distant future, on the Earth colony planet Drummond, a datastream network called Rene.Net tells you everything you need to know. But a voice inside the mind of the data stream’s creator, Rania Chuma is certainly not a benevolent one. With the command “Kill the Doctor!” echoing in the ears of Drummond’s population this can only mean one thing when the Time Lord shows up!
Guy Adams has done a great job bringing a truly fresh futuristic setting that gives this tale a freshness. Where previously had an historical setting and style, Adams gives us a truly futuristic backdrop for Sutekh’s evil plans.
The Doctor and Leela are separated for the majority of the adventure which works to the story’s advantage. The Doctor gets a great relationship with a police officer named Charlton Joyce, voiced by John Dorney, who strikes up a great relationship together. Leela is off fometing a resistance group along with a homeless woman called Kendra played excellently by Eleanor Crooks. This relationship really stands out and steals the show. One cannot omit some praise for Barnaby Edwards who brings excellent vocal variety to the other characters and the entire population of Drummond.
But it’s all building up to hearing Gabriel Woolf as Sutekh. His sinister caramel voice brings back vivid memories from ‘Pyramids of Mars’ which still sends a shiver down my spine!
The new format is a winner! Its great to have four Tom Baker stories to listen to in a row. ‘The Shadow of London’ kicks off this set beautifully with a mystery and Sutekh’s return and reunion with the Fourth Doctor in the two final stories is excellent. There are some wonderful vocal performances throughout and manages to feel like it came right out of a previously undiscovered Tom Baker series from the 70s!
This set contains:
7.5 The Shadow of London by Justin Richards
The TARDIS materialises in the backstreets of London in the 1940s. Whilst K9 entertains himself in the time ship’s library, the Doctor takes Leela for a walk in the streets.
But England’s capital is oddly quiet. There are no cars and very few pedestrians… whilst those people they do meet appear really quite English indeed. And all the while they are monitored by cameras feeding images into a secret control room.
Something strange is happening in the city. Traitors are running wild… and nothing and no-one are quite as they seem.
7.6 The Bad Penny by Dan Starkey
In the 1970s, hotelier Ron Tulip is having a difficult time. Many of his customers seem to be absconding without payment. The few who remain complain of strange noises and terrible sleep. And to top it all he’s just been summoned to the VIP suite… which is something of a problem as he didn’t even realise the hotel had one.
When turbulence in time takes the TARDIS off course, the Doctor and Leela find themselves visiting the same establishment and in the middle of a temporal paradox and a terrible plan.
Because that’s the thing about the Cross-Keys hotel.
You can check in… but you can never leave.
7.7 Kill the Doctor! by Guy Adams
The TARDIS crew arrive on the planet Drummond, an Earth colony in the far future where everybody uses handheld computers from morning to night. Rania Chuma is the mastermind behind Rene.net, the datastream network that tells you everything you need to know. Anyone who’s anyone uses Rene.net.
But ever since Rania was young she’s heard a voice in her head. That voice is the key to Rene.net’s success. And it’s a voice the Doctor might find familiar.
Whilst Leela chases a thief, the Doctor looks into the planet’s datastream and something evil looks back. A subliminal command flashes through Rene.net to Drummond’s entire population: ‘Kill the Doctor’. When the entire planet is against you, where can you possibly hide?
7.8 The Age of Sutekh by Guy Adams
The world has changed. And the evil Osiran Sutekh is returning.
As blood sacrifices and worship boost the strength of the God of War, servicer robots walk the streets, killing those who have not converted.
Leela is working with the homeless population of the city, while the Doctor co-operates with the police.
A brutal battle is ready to begin. And if the Doctor and his friends fail, everyone in the galaxy will perish.
Written By: Justin Richards, Dan Starkey, Guy Adams
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs, Ken Bentley
Tom Baker (The Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela), Darren Boyd (Hemmings), Timothy Speyer (Fanshaw), Catherine Bailey (Maddox), Dan Starkey (Hadean/ Small Hadean/ Liddell/ Mr Richards), Keith Barron (Lord Tulip), Greg Haiste (Ron Tulip), Andrew Ryan (Edwin), Laura Rees (Deborah / Major Harris), Sophia Myles (Rania Chuma), Gabriel Woolf (Sutekh), Eleanor Crooks (Kendra), John Dorney (Charlton Joyce), Barnaby Edwards (Ash/ Stall Owner/ Shop Keeper/ Barge Captain/ Dupree). Other parts played by members of the cast.
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor John Dorney
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs