Travel back in time to 1964 once again as David Bradley, Claudia Grant, Jemma Powell and Jamie Glover return to Big Finish for a second round of First Doctor Adventures.
It’s one thing to just change one cast member, but recreating one of the most beloved eras of Doctor Who with a whole new cast takes some magic to make it work. Thankfully, the previous volume proved that Big Finish seem to have that magic in abundance. This new pair of adventures is no exception.
Doctor Who in 1964 was quite different to how it is today. The alien threats were less abundant, there was a lot less running and the aim of the show was to educate just as much as it entertained. The structure and atmosphere has clearly been painstakingly recreated. From the more relaxed pace of the story to Howard Carter’s outstanding work on the sound. From the second that original version of the theme tune hits, it genuinely feels like you’re listening in on an episode from the Hartnell era. The entire team at Big Finish must be commended for their efforts, which has paid off in total abundance.
But let’s look at each story in this two-part throwback…
The Invention of Death by John Dorney
Kicking things off is a purely science-fiction story with an alien civilisation very different to our own. Bucking the trend of typical Doctor Who stories, Dorney raises the question of whether the Doctor’s arrival is actually a good thing. Of course while all the Doctors usually think they’re right, for the Doctor at a time so early into his travels this can be a particular problem. The story contains several shocking moments, with the first part cliffhanger especially proving to be surprisingly potent. It rewards a second listen as the general theme of the story has yet to make itself known at that point. Though a bit slow-paced at times, not unlike early TV serials, the main source of the conflict is saved until the very end. But this is by no means a bad thing as the focus is instead placed on world-building and tackling the various scientific and ethical issues the story raises. The Invention of Death is an incredibly gripping story, with a hard-hitting ending that sticks with you long after the end theme begins to fade out.
The Barbarians and the Samurai by Andrew Smith
The second part of this set is a very different tale, as the TARDIS crew land in 19th century Japan for a purely historical Doctor Who adventure. Those familiar with Japanese history will be impressed with just how well-researched and realised The Barbarians and the Samurai is. while those less-versed in the time period will be find themselves learning a fairly succinct summary as they listen along. True to the stories of the time even the Doctor himself is a little less knowledgeable of the era, which makes a refreshing change of pace from the more worldly later incarnations. The appropriately diverse voice cast also adds a level of authenticity to the story, with Sadao Ueda and Jozef Aoki giving particularly notable performances. What really makes the story work though is its morally grey overtones, with characters doing questionable acts but also doing the best they can to survive in a particularly turbulent time in Japanese history.
The First Doctor Adventures: Volume Two takes on two very different genres in the same set while retaining the same tone as the original series. It splices a cerebral science fiction adventure and thoroughly-researched historical drama into one exhilarating collection. The cast may be a busy one, but fingers crossed they’ll be able to return again one day for even more adventures from an era of Doctor Who thought long-since over. David Bradley’s First Doctor is every bit the original, the genuine article, as Hartnell himself!
This title was released in July 2018. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until September 30th 2018, and on general sale after this date.
2.1 The Invention of Death by John Dorney
After an experimental flight, the TARDIS crew find themselves on one of the strangest worlds they have ever encountered.
Alien life takes many forms, and on Ashtallah the travellers find all their preconceptions tested.
But this world is about to make a discovery – and it could mean the end of everything.
2.2 The Barbarians and the Samurai by Andrew Smith
In 19th Century Japan, Westerners are forbidden. So when the TARDIS arrives near Lord Mamoru’s castle, the daimyo’s Samurai are soon on their trail.
Uncovering secrets at court and treachery in the ranks, the Doctor and his friends are drawn into intrigue. And, as a battle begins, they are caught in the middle.
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Matt Fitton
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
Written By: John Dorney, Andrew Smith
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs
David Bradley (The Doctor), Claudia Grant (Susan), Jemma Powell (Barbara Wright), Jamie Glover (Ian Chesterton), Tracy Wiles (Sharlan), Michelle Morris (Brenna), Dan Li (Okada Shumei), Andrew Wincott (Casper Knox), Sadao Ueda (Takagi Mamoru), Susan Hingley (Keiko), Jozef Aoki (Toda Eiji / Yoshita Hiroshi), Christopher Naylor (Captain Hamilton). Other parts played by members of the cast.