For many fans, the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler are the defining TARDIS duo of modern Doctor Who.
So the news that Big Finish were reuniting David Tennant and Billie Piper for three new adventures was a giddy moment from our favourite audio drama producers. Prompting widespread anticipation, merely the announcement managed to crash the Big Finish website. Bringing together a fan-favourite Doctor with his first companion was bound to bring them more into the spotlight than ever. In May 2016, Big Finish played a blinder with a box set reuniting the Doctor with Donna Noble. So with an audience keen for more Rose and the bar set high, can The Tenth Doctor Adventures: Volume Two deliver on the hype?
Days (Not So) Long Ago
Reuniting these actors is just one step toward reviving an era in Doctor Who now over a decade old. Another was making sure the range of stories captured the spirit of the 2006 series. A modern-day Earth tale, a historical romp and finally a space-faring adventure with plenty of running. The Tenth Doctor’s time with Rose also marks a time in his life where it was clear just how much fun the he was having. The same can be said of this set but with the added benefit of both time and perspective; bringing an energy that’s recognisably the Tenth Doctor but also distinctly Big Finish.
Infamy of the Zaross by John Dorney
If there’s any one story in this set that would have made the perfect onscreen episode, it’s ‘Infamy of the Zaross’. Without giving too much away, its contemporary themes and self-referential nature are straight out of Russell T Davies-era playbook. exactly the kind of thing you could see him green-lighting. On the surface its premise is steeped in the lightness that makes you instantly nostalgic for the Tennant years. But deep down has that same darkness to it that made those episodes it closely resembles so powerful. But the real star of this particular episode is Jackie Tyler – played once again by the wonderful Camille Coduri. By this point in time, Rose has become confident enough to tackle an alien invasion without the Doctor at her side. But listening to Jackie casually face this threat in her own way is just sublime. Capping the story off is a nifty little namedrop which ties it cleverly into this particular run of TV episodes. You may guess it, but it still manages to bring a smile to your face.
The Sword of the Chevalier by Guy Adams
It wouldn’t be the Tennant era without a history lesson. In ‘The Sword of the Chevalier’, Guy Adams transports us back to the 16th century to meet Chevalier d’Éon. The true story of a dashing spy who lived both as man and woman but was never truly defined by either gender. That’s not just perfect for Doctor Who, but a message that feels especially poignant in the lead up to the Thirteenth Doctor’s arrival. Though the story teases and then promptly robs us the opportunity to hear Tennant try his hand at opera, it remains a rip-roaring adventure. Similar to the likes of ‘Tooth and Claw’ or ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’. While true for all three stories in this set, this one makes particularly great use of Rose. Particularly the more self-assured and confident Rose that we met in the last story. It also splits the Doctor briefly from his trusty Sonic Screwdriver. In theory that doesn’t sound so special but comes as a welcome change for an incarnation whose dependence on it was almost comical at times.
Cold Vengeance by Matt Fitton
Closing with a bang is ‘Cold Vengeance’, the hotly-anticipated story pitting the Doctor and Rose against the Ice Warriors. Though this story feels like it could be suited any incarnation, the addition of space pirates, robots and binmen add a modern twist. Where recent Ice Warrior stories place significant value on their honour code, ‘Cold Vengeance’ lets them loose. Showing just how dangerous they are with nothing left to lose. Nicholas Briggs puts in a brilliant double performance as both Commander Slaan and the Ice Lord Hasskor. Meanwhile Tennant gets a moment to play with the Doctor’s broodier side as he talks of the Time War and his sacrifices. Cold War is undoubtedly the heaviest story of the collection, dealing with a number of social and political themes. It also confronts death and loss with a very personal touch.
It’s clear Big Finish has a good grasp on what the Tenth Doctor era was about. But it’s not afraid to play around with it and try new things. That’s completely as it should be. Nostalgic rehashing is fun for a while but has diminishing returns. Big Finish have made it plain they want the Tenth Doctor era to grow with its fans. ‘The Tenth Doctor Adventures: Volume Two’ perfectly capturing the settings, senses and tone of the era. But the experience and talent at Big Finish has not been wasted either. The TARDIS dream-team have reunited in a fantastic trilogy of adventures. For a whole generation of fans this will be an essential buy. Hopefully, the one that drops them into the rabbit hole of Doctor Who on audio.
Blogtor Rating – 10/10
This title was released in November 2017. It is exclusively available to buy from the BF website only.
2.1 Infamy of the Zaross by John Dorney
When Jackie Tyler takes an away day to visit her old friend Marge in Norwich, she finds her holiday immediately interrupted in the worst way possible – an alien invasion! The infamous Zaross have come to take over the Earth. Or have they? After Jackie calls in the Doctor and Rose to deal with the menace, it soon becomes clear that this is a very unusual invasion indeed. The Doctor is about to uncover one of the most heinous crimes in the history of the galaxy. And if he can’t stop it an awful lot of people are going to die.
2.2 The Sword of the Chevalier by Guy Adams
1791 and the Doctor and Rose get to meet one of the most enigmatic, thrilling and important people in history: The Chevalier d’Eon. She used to be known as a spy, but then she used to be known as a lot of things. If there’s one thing the Doctor knows it’s that identity is what you make it. Choose a life for yourself and be proud. Mind you, if the Consortium of the Obsidian Asp get their way, all lives may soon be over…
2.3 Cold Vengeance by Matt Fitton
The TARDIS arrives on Coldstar, a vast freezer satellite, packed with supplies to feed a colony world. But there are cracks in the ice, and something scuttles under the floors. Soon, Rose and the Doctor encounter robots, space pirates and… refuse collectors. As Coldstar’s tunnels begin to melt, an even greater threat stirs within. An old enemy of the Doctor puts a plan into action – a plan for retribution. Nobody’s vengeance is colder than an Ice Warrior’s.
Limited to just 5,000 copies and available exclusively from bigfinish.com, this lavish book-sized box set includes exclusive artwork, photography, articles, a one-hour documentary featuring interviews with the stars and production team – alongside a bonus documentary examining the worlds of Doctor Who at Big Finish.
There are interviews with David Tennant and Billie Piper in this podcast.
Written By: John Dorney, Guy Adams, Matt Fitton
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs
David Tennant (The Doctor), Billie Piper (Rose Tyler), Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler), Rosie Cavaliero (Marge Ellmore), Beth Lilly (Jess Ellmore), Guy Henry(Ikron), George Watkins (Tanan / Steve), George Asprey (Leader), Nickolas Grace(Chevalier D’Eon), Tam Williams (Christopher Dalliard), Mark Elstob (Joxer / Butler), Lucy Briggs-Owen (Hempel / Dancer / Duchess), James Joyce (Darcy / Groom), Keziah Joseph (Lorna), Maureen Beattie (Brona Volta), Sean Biggerstaff(Callum Volta), Anthony Stuart-Hicks (Management / Bert) and Nicholas Briggs(Lord Hasskor / Commander Slaan)
Other parts played by members of the cast.
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Matt Fitton, John Dorney
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs