Audio review:Criss-Cross

Pete and I had a chat about Doctor Who: Criss Cross, by Big Finish.

Martyn: With over 16 years of audio adventures, the biggest problem with the Doctor Who range used to be ‘where do you start?’

Pete: In a way, everyone jumps into Doctor Who in the middle; there’s a certain joy to discovering the world we’re dropped into, in our own order.

M: It can still seem daunting for new listeners to climb on board the Big Finish train. Recently they’ve decided to play down the continuity of the first 200 and provide a fresh jumping on point for new listeners. The first three focused on the Seventh Doctor and Mel.

P: Return of the Sontarans was really fun; I liked your review.

M: Criss-Cross kicks off a brand new trilogy for the Sixth Doctor and Constance Clarke. In a very time-wimey way, we met her in The Sixth Doctor: The Last Adventure.

P: The extras for that mention how Colin Baker needed some convincing to sign his character’s death warrant. But he needn’t have worried; it just left me wanting more. It must have helped him, though, to have a glimpse of the future in there.

M: Written by Matt Fitton, Criss-Cross tells the story of the ‘Wrens’ working at the Bletchley Park codebreaking facility in World War II. They start out dealing with and becoming suspicious of the eccentric ‘Doctor John Smith.’

P: This is super timely, too. There’s a new book by Tessa Dunlop about the women of Bletchley Park, BBC2 have just done a doco on somebody besides Alan Turing and of course there’s the Imitation Game film with Cumberbatch.

M: This one’s a gripping war-time story – suspicion and espionage, with hints of sci-fi thrown in. The characters are spies, double agents, Nazis and code-breakers. Matt Fitton manages to perfectly encapsulate the horrendous situations people in war often found themselves. The period feels authentic and Constance Clarke is very much of her time.

P: They’ve given her an absent husband like Emma Peel had, but perhaps not like that; we’ll see. Mrs Clarke is both a foil and an asset, which is really good for ‘old sixie.’ Miranda Raison pitches it just right; I remember her from Wreck of the Titan. I’m also hoping to see her in A Winter’s Tale, a new live HD theatre project Kenneth Branagh is doing.

M: Colin is at the top of his game here, the chemistry with Miranda Raison is impeccable, it’s up there with the Seventh Doctor and Ace, or Ten and Donna.

Criss Cross is available now in CD or download from Big Finish.