Stocks and scares

- Rhian Drinkwater

In December 2020, a rummage through old paperwork led Russell T Davies to the first Doctor Who script he ever wrote: “Mind Of The Hodiac”, pitched in the ’80s and starring the Sixth Doctor and Mel. Only one episode was fully written, but notes for the second have now been fleshed out by Scott Handcock for this lavish audio version.

The story concerns the Hodiac, a being manipulati­ng galactic stock markets to aid him in his quest to find the other half of himself – a mission he’s sure the Doctor, owner of a coat of “every hue in the galaxy”, will help him with. Meanwhile on Earth, a family are being haunted by things they don’t understand, and offered refuge by a mysterious woman, Mrs Chinn (Annette Badland, wasted as a pantomime villain), who has ideas of her own about what’s tormenting them.

There are real highlights here – the Maitland family is an early demonstrat­ion of Davies’s skill in grounding Who, showing the effects of galactic struggles at an understand­able scale. T’nia Miller impresses as always as the overworked single mum trying to protect her family. It’s a real callback for fans of ’80s Doctor Who, too – you can picture the colourful sets and clothing.

Unfortunat­ely, it all feels too messy. As the story was written for TV, it has a larger cast than is usual for Big Finish. There are too many voices, and too many strands: economic meltdown; the Hodiac with his Tungsten warriors, evil mercenarie­s pitted against a single building of people; the “tentrooper­s” chasing them; and then the Doctor, Mel, the Maitlands and Chinn’s scheming.

It’s a fun idea, bringing to life this early Who concept from the show’s later saviour – it’s just a shame it’s not quite so much fun in practice.

There are many references to The Wind In The Willows – both RTD and Colin Baker saw similariti­es between Six and Toad.

A family are being haunted by things they don’t understand

 ?? ??
 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia