It’s been 30ish years since we’ve last heard from Mags but Big Finish, being the fine purveyors of audio that they are, have brought her back. ‘The Monsters of Gokroth‘ begins a series of stories featuring this well-loved character.
When last we seen Mags (excluding the comics (Which Jessica Martin, who plays Mags, contributed artwork for in a back up story to Titan Comics 7th Doctor mini-series )) it was in ‘The Greatest Show In The Galaxy‘. A fun classic era story that was a bit meta. It was aware of its fanbase and didn’t mind poking some loving fun at them. Mags had the odd roll of the pro/antagonist monster of the serial. Despite not being a fleshed out character at the time, her chemistry with The Doctor and Ace, along with her fashion style and unusual character, made her likeable and worth revisiting.
Long Time Coming
It’s been quite some time for Mags and even the Doctor. He’s older and towards the latter end of his this regeneration. The Doctor is travelling alone and wrapping up some loose ends; in this case Mags. ‘The Monsters of Gokroth‘ is the kind of follow-up you would hope for. It deals with some proper human issues, such as dealing with our own inner monsters. However, it remains, at its core, light. Light in tone but full of dark nights, castles monsters and mad scientists. This is Doctor Who meets elements from the classic monsters.
‘The Monsters of Gokroth‘ flies by and hits its beats. In fact, the story unfolds so smoothly that the cliffhangers feel more like winks and nods than attempts to keep you listening. If you’re here, you’re in it to the end, likely even in one sitting. Writer Matt Fitton clearly knows his classic monsters and weaves the horror stories effortlessly into one of sci-fi/horror.
It’s all about the Characters
In many ways, we all know this story. There are just enough moments of humanity to lift this story above homage and allow it to be its own creature. This also comes down to some really fun performances. If you’re a Seventh Doctor fan, Sylvester McCoy continues to make the Doctor interesting. Just his introduction to the larger group of people can make you smile like a giddy child. How he continues to add depth to this character is beyond me but I’m grateful. And let’s not forget that his friendship with Mags is excellent.
Mags is not Ace or Mel but her connection and friendship with the Doctor is evident. It’s just like meeting an old friend and finding your commonalities. Martin does a superb job of balancing her knowledge of the Doctor while still being amazed.
The supporting cast all bring terrific performances to the table, as well. Andrew Fettes does a stellar job of playing multiple characters but Gor is the standout character. Maybe of the entire production. The character is written well to begin with but the performance pops to life with Fettes’ gruff sound but gentle demeanour. Victoria Yeates as Dr. Maleeva is another case of a performance elevating the words. She’s a difficult character to talk about without revealing important plot details but she holds her own very well and is a great new addition to Big Finish.
Werewolves, monsters and The Doctor should be the only tagline required. ‘The Monsters of Gokroth‘ is a playful adventure that reintroduced us to Mags in a new trilogy of stories. It’s an enjoyable medley of classic horror tropes with a strong enough cast and characters to make it stand on its on two, to four, feet. Despite being mostly a bunch of fun the script is tight and the production flies by with strong production qualities and excellent direction by Samuel Clemens.
- Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor)
- Jessica Martin (Mags)
- Andrew Fettes (Gor / Bear-Monster / Porrow)
- Abi Harris (Trella / Lizard-Monster)
- Jeremy Hitchen (Varron)
- Dominic Vulliamy (Wilric)
- Victoria Yeates (Dr Maleeva)