It’s a special occasion in the TARDIS. It’s Constance Clarke’s birthday, but where will the Doctor choose to take her?
The futuristic colony of Formicia seems like a nice enough place to pamper the Leading Wren for her “Wren party”. But Mrs. Clarke’s 35th birthday doesn’t just mean another year has passed, on Formicia it means she’s earned herself a ticket to The Middle. And what’s in store for the Doctor at his ripe old age could be even worse…
The Middle doesn’t tie directly into the Doctor’s twenty-six TV years or rely on infamous villains to draw in its listener; but manages to come across as wholly original, beautifully creative and wonderfully imaginative. This enjoyable yarn is high concept sci-fi at its best. The piece is a clever and topical commentary on age and its role in society.
Writer Chris Chapman is a relative newcomer to Big Finish, having debuted with ‘The Memory Bank‘ last year. The ideas for ‘The Middle’ were inspired by observing young people on his work on the CBBC documentary series ‘Our School.’ His time as producer on that series coupled with spending quality time with his Grandfather gave him an insight on the incredible importance we place on age in our society. Chapman proves himself a thoughtful writer with a unique perspective and I hope to hear more from him at Big Finish.
The End is the Beginning
‘The Middle’ boasts a well-paced plot that cleverly establishes a slow simultaneous reveal of what’s truly going on in Formicia. It’s rare that a story can deliver a simultaneous surprise for both the audience and the characters, but this is pulled off with skill. The relationship between the Doctor’s very different companions, Flip and Constance, also begins to develop in a new direction with this story. Familial companionship starts to show through with Constance as a motherly or sisterly figure to Flip.
Don’t Cut The Middleman
The main cast all turn in great performances with Lisa Greenwood and Miranda Raison as Flip and Constance respectively showing new sides to their characters. Colin Baker gets to flex his reluctant impetuous side when the Doctor is forced to do the one thing he never will. However, it’s Mark Heap that steals the show with a pitch-perfect outing as the psychotic and aptly named Middleman. The troupe is rounded out beautifully by Sheila Reid as Janaiya. Reid previously appeared in Doctor Who as Clara’s grandmother and alongside Colin Baker’s Doctor as Etta in Vengence On Varos (1984).
The Middle is a beautifully paced, thought-provoking and enjoyable piece of high concept science fiction. Definitely worth a listen if you’re a fan of hard Sci-Fi and enjoy the Sixth Doctor. Just remember…the End is the Beginning…
Blogtor Rating 10/10
It’s L/Wren Mrs Constance Clarke’s birthday – and Flip is determined to make it an anniversary to remember.
The futuristic colony of Formicia, where the pampered populace pass their days in endless leisure, seems the perfect place for a ‘Wren Party’. But all is not as it seems. Looking down from the Middle, the skyscraping tower that ascends as far as the colony ceiling, Formicia’s overseers can see that the Doctor doesn’t fit in – and it’s not just his coat that makes him conspicuous…
“The End is the Beginning,” say the propaganda-like posters all over Formicia. Because to be part of this perfect society comes at a price. And the Doctor’s already in arrears.
Written By: Chris Chapman
Directed By: Jamie Anderson
Colin Baker (The Doctor), Lisa Greenwood (Flip Jackson), Miranda Raison (Mrs Constance Clarke), Mark Heap (The Middleman), Sheila Reid (Janaiya), Wayne Forester (Roman), Hollie Sullivan (Olivia York), Chloe Rickenbach (Chloe).
Other parts played by members of the cast.
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Alan Barnes
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs