on 2 March 2015
This story takes place sometime shortly after the Doctor’s defeat of the Black Guardian, at the end of the end of the search for the Key to Time. With the randomiser now in effect and dictating their travels, the Doctor and Romana are currently lying low in London living a fairly aristocratic lifestyle in the 1920s. Lying low isn’t in the Doctor’s nature though and the two of them soon encounter a vampiric alien and her robot minions.
If you hadn’t already surmised from the title, it soon becomes apparent with interfering aunts, odd butlers, marriage concerns and cross-class romantic entanglements, that this is Doctor Who meets PG Wodehouse. As the title suggests the story is concerned with a very Jeeves and Worcester theme, the machinations of a dreaded aunt. Reginald’s aunt, much like Worcester’s aunts, appears preoccupied with finding him a suitable wife. Unlike Aunt Agatha for instance, she intends to consume his prospective brides to maintain her physical form in a way reminiscent of Magnus Greel. The butler/valet character, Grenville, is similarly perverted. As opposed to Jeeves, he is loyal only to Reginald’s aunt and only assists Reginald when it suits the demands of Lady Bassett. A murderous, robotic Jeeves is a nice twist and his polite demands for people to co-operate when he kills them are quite amusing.
There is a clever symmetry throughout the play’s structure. Despite this being the first audio with Tom Baker and Mary Tamm together again and the first in a series, the Doctor and Romana spend most of the play apart, each believing that the other is busy when they go off on their own adventure. This allows for each of them to gain an honouree ‘companion’ for the duration of the story. Romana, as the strong, self-reliant and responsible type that Lady Bassett desires, becomes saddled with the Gussie-like Reginald. In contrast the Doctor adopts working class maid, Mabel, and proceeds to give her a crash course in being a companion; at least from his point of view. As the play progresses and the Doctor and Romana swap locales they also swap companions, always missing each other in comedy fashion.
Wodehouse has influenced Doctor Who on several other occasions but never to this extent. Wittily written and very well structured this is a highly enjoyable and entertaining listen and a worthy homage to PG Wodehouse.
on 2 August 2014
The first of the second season of Fourth Doctor audio stories from Big Finish, this very strongly 'P.G. Woodhouse'-spired two-parter sees Doctor #4 and Romana #1 enjoying a break from their travels as the supposed lord and lady manor of an English Manor in the early 20th century. However, the peace doesn't last long, as soon Romana becomes involved with a strange young man, Reggie, and the machinations of his rather strange 'Auntie'.
The cast here, as well as being the usual BF top job, are all having a a ball with the material. Baker and Tamm are pitch perfect in recapturing their younger selves, have a more bickery relationship as opposed to the more equal partnership during the Lalla Ward days. He is wonderfully ebulliant while she is terrifically bossy and direct, and it's a joy. The rest of the cast is small but equally as fun, with special props to Julia McKenzie as the enjoyably diabolical 'Aunt', who feels like she popped right out of the Douglas Adams era, and is clearly having a riot as the villain.
BF's technical work is once again top notch, though much simpler as it's primarily the sounds of the country and old motorcars, but the real prize here is the script. John Morris continues to impress me as a Who writer, this time displaying himself as a very able comedy writer. It's often really, really funny and witty, and anyone who is a fan of the Adams era, or the likes of Woodhouse and Blackadder, will instantly be at home here with its humorous jab at the archetypical crust of historical English society and the upper class. And mix the abundant wit with the brisk pacing of a two-parter, and you have a short, sweet and loveable good time here.
As for the package itself, the story is on a single disc, and ends with a making of/interviews with some of the crew and cast, including the late but rather lively and clearly happy Tamm. To close off, 'Auntie Matter' is a real corker of a Who story, and well worth the purchase. Clever, amusing and brisk, it is everything you would want in such a period-flavoured piece and then some.
on 15 October 2015
‘The Auntie Matter’ is a PG Wodehouse pastiche with lots of caricature characters, and reunites Tom Baker and Mary Tamm. It also has the most ingenious writing out of K-9, ever. The first series of The Fourth Doctor Adventures was rather a mixed bag, but this gets us off with a bang! Still trying to avoid the Black Guardian, the Doctor and Romana have taken to passing themselves of as a Lord and Lady; living in a townhouse in London. The Doctor has sent K-9 for a trip in the Tardis, which he is flying solo, to distract the Black Guardian from their true location. Meanwhile, nearby a body snatching alien is luring young girls to their death! Throughout the story the Doctor and Romana act independently of each other, and unaware of each other’s contribution to the narrative, only stumbling across the fact in the final scene. It’s an inventive and ingenious way to bring the story full circle.
The xylophones and triangles make Howard Carter’s orchestral music sparkle. The effects are full and rich making the listener feel as if they were actually outside at times. A rather strange facet to the soundscape is how quite the henchman butler come android, ‘Diggery’, is. I believe they did this to give the illusion that he is some distance away, but it just makes him hard to hear at times. Ken Bentley’s direction is good overall, but he does seem to miss a few details. I think the demarcation between sequences isn’t always that good, but it’s a minor niggle. It’s good to hear Mary Tamm’s voice again. The smooth sophistication of her voice lends perfectly to a 1920s setting. The effects applied to Lady Florence’s haughty voice when disconnected from her power supply are different and amusing. Tom sounds like he is really enjoying the revival of his Doctor, but (and this is in relation to the first series as well) his vocal performance seems to lack dynamics. His voice is too soft and sounds like someone pretending to shout rather than someone raising their voice. Later on his Doctor is put through a traumatic experience and doesn’t sound particularly convincing, yet Tom’s performance is one of the highlights of this story.
This packed full of humour with a thin amount of narrative but that doesn’t detract from this wonderful production. ‘Reggie’ (or should I say “Weggie”) is a wonderful creation; you could almost imagine him as a breakout character in his own spin-off series packed full of jocund japes, ala ‘Jago and Litefoot’. His absolute lack of awareness and Pepe Le Pew antics produce some real laugh out loud moments. Like last season’s two part finale this has a distinctly Douglas Adams feel but with the focus more on humour.
Jonathan Morris’ script creates a vivid setting, with wonderfully delightful characters. Listening to this audio is an effortless and stimulating experience. This was recorded on 18 July 2011 at Audio Sorcery, The Moat Studios. The extras include a tribute from Big Finish and the cast to Mary Tamm who died six months before this was released. The interplay between her Romana and Reggie is the absolute focal point and highlight of the show for me.
This has got to be one of the funniest Doctor Who stories ever. The story features Tom Baker as the fourth Doctor and Mary Tamm as Romana I. The Doctor, in an effort to shake off the Black Guardian has set up the Randomiser on the Tardis and sent it and K-9 off on some random stops before eventually returning to Earth to get the Doctor and Romana. In the meantime, the Doctor and Romana are living in 1920's London as titled nobility in a rented townhouse. But tea and crumpets are not the only thing waiting for them, as the Doctor picks up alien energy waves in the area.
I particularly loved this story because it combined the Doctor with another of my favourite literary genres, that of P G Wodehouse. The author of this story, Jonathan Morris is clearly a long-term fan of PGW, the evidence of which are the many references, both direct and indirect to the world invented by PGW. The characters of feckless Reggie, long-suffering Mabel, and Reggie's malovelent Aunt are mixed with the ongoing motifs of many of PGW's works - interfering aunts, marriage of the idle rich, the hardworking lower class and mix-ups of people and places in merry farce. Reggie is even a member of the Drones Club!
This story made me laugh out loud with the PGW references and madcap world that has been created around the Doctor Who story; and made me eagerly listen to see what happened next in the great Doctor Who story itself. A great mix of sci-fi and hilarity; totally definitely recommended.
on 31 January 2013
(Taken from my Patient Centurion blog)
This is the first of the second series of Tom Baker Big Finish productions. It pairs up Tom with Mary Tamm. It is thus one of the last things that Mary Tamm did before her sadly early death. Unlike Caroline John's appearance in 'The Last Post' this feels less valedictory and more a traditional Doctor Who tale. Part of a series.
It's Doctor Who meets P.G. Wodehouse: a bit of Jeeves, a bit of Blandings and a bit of the Drones club. It takes P.G. Wodehouse's obsession with fearsome Aunts to an extreme degree. It's rather delightful to hear the magnificent Julia Mackenzie get her teeth into an Wodehousian Aunt with a twist.
Jonathan Morris, the writer also weaves a rather clever plot, which keeps both Romana and the Doctor occupied and plays with the idea of the necessity of separating Doctor & companion in a (slightly) unusual way, which adds to the fun.
This is the first Tom Baker Big Finish I've heard and it feels a little different to the others. Perhaps it is Tom, whose delivery is so Tom that it sounds a little less natural than the other Doctors, even if it feels quite spot on Tomish. I do adore Tom Baker. The Fourth Doctor is my Doctor and to hear him in full Doctor-ish flow again is a real pleasure.
Mary Tamm is magnificent too. Her Romana keeps that slightly superior tone of the television version, whose clearly unimpressed with being stuck on a primitive planet like Earth. Again. Her desire to go and explore, nudged along by the Doctor is what leads to....well a meeting with a perfectly written and perfectly cast pseudo-Wooster in Reggie (Robert Portal).
I can't praise Robert Portal enough for his joyful performance. It's perfectly homage to that upper class fool who manages to scrap through. Normally aided by a valet.
There's also Lucy Griffith's as Mabel, who is the Doctor and Romana's maid. Yes, maid. They begin this story as Lord and Lady Something in a London house. With Butler and Maid. The Doctor's done something to the TARDIS to distract the Black Guardian - thus explaining the additional Romana I adventure - and left them stranded in 1920s London. No one really explains the house and servants but lets go for it. Mabel finds herself dragged into the adventure, much to her bemusement.
If you want an hour of highly amusing Wodehouse Doctor Who then this will hit the spot.
There's also a rather nice tribute to Mary Tamm as part of the extras.
She'll be missed.
First in the latest series of Doctor Who audio stories to feature Tom Baker as the Doctor. Also featuring Mary Tamm as his companion, the first Romana.
The story is complete and self contained in two episodes that run for thirty minutes each [approx] and is presented on one cd.
It requires no knowledge of any previous audios in order to listen to it. There are continuity references which establish where it is set in relation to this TARDIS crew's tv stories. And where K9 is. But anyone listening to this will doubtless understand those anyway, so casual listeners can get into it with absolutely no problems.
The story is set in 1920's Britain. It sees the Doctor and Romana staying in London as the Lord and Lady of a townhouse.
Meanwhile, upper class twit Reggie is taking his latest girlfriend to meet his aunt at their country estate.
When Romana attempting to sample the human lifestyle, the Doctor detecting alien technology, and Reggie's desire to find a soulmate all collide, lives will never be the same again...
This is unashamedly a Doctor Who story that is also a pastiche of the works of PG Wodehouse. And it's quite delightfully done. The opening does recapture the Wodehouse style perfectly. Which makes the switch over to science fiction elements all the more surprising.
Tom Baker responds to the demands of the script brilliantly and clearly has a lot of fun with it. Mary Tamm recreates her Romana - smart and alien with little life experience outside of her homeworld - impeccably also. Plus the supporting cast are also quite brilliant. With aunts and twits and servants and young ladies that could have come straight out of Jeeves and Wooster.
With a few slight science fictional twists.
The plot does contain familiar elements and isn't desperately original when you get down to it, but the style that surrounds it and the wonderful characterisation and interplay means that doesn't really matter. Each episode passes very pleasantly as you listen.
A pefect way to open a season of these, and a wonderful and highly recommended listen.
There's a trailer for the next in this season on the track after the end of episode two.
Plus just under fourteen minutes of interviews with cast and crew on the two tracks after that. These deal with the fact that Mary Tamm passed away a few months after recording in an understated and very touching manner, and simply have to be listened to as a result.
on 29 March 2013
The Auntie Matter is an easy to follow, light-hearted and entertaining mid-era Tom Baker story with Romana II. It launches a new (second) season of fourth Doctor Big Finish audio adventures which in many ways will be as unique as season 16 as both will have only featured Mary Tamm for just one season.
I usually do not have time to listen to all the extra features, but in this case, it was very prudent, in light of Mary Tamm's death.
The overall product is a very good one. Tom Baker is pretty well back to being the character he should be (previous season was not convincing at all times and not given the right dialogue either). Mary Tamm beautifully delivers her character. The rest of the cast do wonders with a fun-loving set of clichéd and over-the-top P.G.Wodehouse characters.
Importantly, this story feels like a season 16 story and sits nicely along-side the humour and character levels of The Stones of Blood and The Androids of Tara. Obviously this story is not chasing another segment of The Key to Time.
It does everything that it should do to reflect the era it is from, which is clever writing and realisation. In fact, at times it is rather better. Given the constraints therefore that the production team have, it would be difficult to produce something that is better.
on 2 February 2016
Really good - these Dr Who audio stories are a great way to experience new adventures of Dr's past... brilliant listening.
on 18 May 2013
The first season of The Fourth Doctor Adventures, in which Tom Baker returned to his most famous role for the first time with Big Finish Productions, was one of the 'Doctor Who' highlights of 2012, and with the bar set suitably high, I expected a great deal from the second season. Fortunately, 'The Auntie Matter' kicks off the second run in great style, with Baker's Doctor now accompanied by Romana Mk 1 (played by Mary Tamm, who sadly passed away between the recording and release of these new audios), gallivanting around the kind of 1920s England beloved of PG Wodehouse - all dopey aristocrats, super-efficient butlers and formidable Aunts. Writer Jonathan Morris has gone out of his way to blend the worlds of 'Doctor Who' and Wodehouse (in particular the Jeeves books), and as someone who loves both of these and was a little apprehensive about the play beforehand, I was pleased to discover that it works so much better than I could have imagined. This is helped by a terrific cast - not just Baker and Tamm, who are on excellent form here, but Robert Portal as the Wooster-esque Reggie, and the wonderful Julia McKenzie as the Auntie of the title, who must be one of the most entertaining villains that Big Finish have produced in their hundreds of audio productions.
Whilst the story fits the format of the Fourth Doctor Adventures (single disc stories, comprising two episodes, with a running time of about an hour plus extras) well, and doesn't outstay its welcome, it's a pity in some ways that there wasn't the opportunity to expand upon certain elements of the story, as it's such fun spending time in the company of its characters. Despite that, it's tremendous fun, and a good standalone adventure that showcases the leads at their very best. There's also a nice little tribute to Mary Tamm as part of the bonus material on this release.
on 14 April 2013
Mary Tamm is superb and will be sorely missed she is brilliant in this story! A witty and well-acted tale!