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.
Covid 19 has been an utter horror, but it has given Doctor Who fans content we wouldn’t have gotten without it. Not only did we get a Sarah Jane Smith finale written by Russell T Davies, we also got the news that Christopher Eccleston has signed up to Big Finish.
It also enabled Big Finish to bring forward their release of Out of time 1. This was recorded entirely in lockdown and only happened because the events of this year cleared out David Tennant’s insane schedule.
Out of Time is the first, in a trilogy of original audio adventures that sees the Tenth Doctor pit himself against his most iconic foes, with a former Doctor by his side. In this story he’s joined by The Fourth Doctor, played by the legendary Tom Baker.
Multi-Doctor stories are nothing new, but this is the first time these two incarnations have met and it’s absolutely joyous. There’s the standard bickering we get when two Doctors meet, however there’s more love and mutual respect between these two.
Writer Matt Fitton perfectly manages to balance the tonal difference between two entirely different eras of the show. Ten and Four bounce of each other spectacularly well. Both lead actors absolutely soar in their respective roles.
Howard Carter’s music perfectly compliments the drama, punctuating the actors performances. The supporting cast are all on top form and Nicholas Briggs takes on a dual role as actor and director, he does both with absolute vigour. This is clearly a passion project for all involved, a love letter to Doctor Who and its fans.
Out of time may well be the best multi-Doctor story yet. I can’t wait for the second and third instalments.
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