After listening to Brian Hayles' "The Smugglers", I found my head spinning and was left generally confused as to everything that had just happened. That's not to say that the experience wasn't enjoyable - it was - but with a quite exceptionally large cast of supporting characters, all male and many with very similar voices, even after four episodes I'm unsure who certain characters were and what side they were on.
This complexity and duplicity is half the point of the story in a way. As with many (but not all) of these missing story audio recordings, it's a real shame that the visual cues are no longer available to help the viewer / listener understand the events that are taking place. Whilst I seldom have any difficulty understanding the new audios by Big Finish Productions, the same cannot always be said of the 1960s stories, which were of course not originally made for presentation solely on audio.
None the less, the production is enjoyable, with decent sound design for the era and helpful but sparse narration by Anneke Wills. Within the story, Anneke Wills and Michael Craze are a breath of fresh air as out-of-their-depth 1960s everyman and everywoman Ben and Polly, and come across more effectively than previous companions Steven and Dodo. I can see now why Ben and Polly were popular companions and how they managed to carry the viewers over through the Doctor's first regeneration (imminent at this stage in the Doctor Who chronology). Both sound natural and there is real chemistry between them, even on audio.
The guest cast are also effective, but once again I found their voices very similar and some of their names unmemorable. As the story plunged into the chaos between the smugglers, the pirates and the revenue man with his militia, I couldn't remember where the character of Jacob Kewper had come from, or who exactly the treacherous Cherub really was. For me, at least, "The Smugglers" definitely needs a second listen.