The Early Adventures: The Doctor’s Tale
Release Date: OUT NOW!
135 minutes | CD/ download Publisher: Big Finish
come in many forms in Doctor Who, but there are few as head- scratching as that of Peri ( Nicola Bryant) during 1986’ s “The Trial Of A Time Lord” storyline. Peri was apparently killed, but then later revealed to have ended up married off- screen to an alien warrior king. New Big Finish adventure The Widow’s Assassin tries to clear up this ambiguous continuity.
The story follows Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor as he finally tracks down Peri on the eve of her wedding to King Yrcanos. This reunion goes badly, and following the unexpected murder of Yrcanos, the Doctor spends five years in prison before attempting to redeem himself when Peri falls victim to a potentially fatal poison. The script throws in plenty of clever twists, but also doesn’t know when to stop, with the latter episodes dragging in places. The florid, campy humour feels closer to the wilder excesses of the Graham Williams era and clashes with the story’s darker themes, leaving this as a fun but uneven solution to a knotty continuity problem.
Over in the Early Adventures range, The Doctor’s Tale brings us another pure historical story echoing the Hartnell era’s educational approach, as the TARDIS crew of the First Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicky, arrive in 15th century England, shortly after King Henry IV has usurped the throne from Richard II. The plot follows a dark pattern, as the Doctor and co are drawn into dangerous intrigues around the deposed Queen Isabel, while also following the trail of famed writer Geoffrey Chaucer.
Narrated by original ’ 60s stars William Russell and Maureen O’Brien ( alongside a full cast), it’s a mix of history and melodrama that’s often powerful, but which could have used a little more energy to carry it through its lengthy running time. Saxon Bullock Also out: a reading of the novelisation of Pertwee story “Carnival Of Monsters”, performed by Katy “Jo Grant” Manning.