It’s hard to deny that the announcement of Christopher Eccleston’s return to the Doctor Who franchise took fans by surprise. After all, it had been sixteen years since his thirteen-episode run reignited the show and brought it to a new generation. But here we are, with The Ninth Doctor Adventures – Ravagers, the first in a four-volume set of audio adventures written and directed by Nicholas Briggs.
On the one hand, Ravagers is an impressive and ambitious set. Eccleston’s return is a significant accomplishment for Big Finish, and it’s evident that he hasn’t lost his touch as the Doctor. The supporting cast, including Camilla Beeput and Jayne McKenna as Nova and Audrey, put in outstanding performances, and Dan Starky’s turn as Marcus Aurelius Gallius is thoroughly enjoyable. The music and sound design match the pace of Briggs’ excellent direction, and his passion for this era of Doctor Who is palpable.
However, the set’s most significant flaw is its plot. The 45-minute episode is stretched over 2 hours and 30 minutes, making the pacing drag at times. While Briggs’ love for the series shines through, the plot feels like an amalgamation of various stories he couldn’t get off the ground. We join the Ninth Doctor in the middle of an adventure and work backwards, a risky move for newcomers to the world of Doctor Who on audio.
Nonetheless, Ravagers is an enjoyable set overall, and fans of the Ninth Doctor will relish the chance to hear him once again. While a more straightforward structure would have been preferable, the set’s future promises exciting possibilities for the range.