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Latest Doctor Who companion chronicle. These are a range of talking books which see an actor who played a companion to the Doctor on tv return to their role to read an all new story for their character.
They do all the narration and the voices, save for one. Which is done by a guest actor.
They are usually two part stories complete on a single cd, with episodes of roughly thirty minutes each.
At this time each year, the companion chronicles do break the format slightly by bringing out a four part two cd story. Most of those have two narrators.
This story sees William Russell and Carole Ann Ford return to the roles of Ian and Susan, whom they played alongside William Hartnell's Doctor, right back in the early days of the show.
It's a four part story, and the episodes run from thirty to thirty three minutes each. [Approx].
It is in keeping with the style of it's era, because like a few tales from then, it's a purely historical one. With no science fiction elements at all.
At the start of the story, the TARDIS brings the four travellers to Spain. In the late sixteenth century. A country being subjected to the terror of the inquistion. And one at war with England. With invasion plans underway.
It's not a good place to be English. But Ian's innate sense of decency lands him in trouble and at the mercy of the inqusition. As his friends plan to rescue him and a man called Esteban whom Ian tried to save from danger, they are also well aware that Sir Francis Drake and his fleet are on the way to mount a raid. Ian idolises Drake. But there's an old adage: you should never meet your heroes...
The narration duties jump back and forth between William Russell and Carole Ann Ford. The initial changes are rather quick and you do take a moment to get used to that. But it quickly settles down. And the segments they narrate do become longer and longer. The first episode is rather scary. But not in the usual Doctor Who way of frightening alien monsters. The monsters here are humans. And the terrible things that fanatics will do.
The two narrators are very good at this and a pleaasure to listen to. The sound design and the very subtle incidental music do create a great sense of time and place.
But the fact that this is straight drama rather than the usual style of Doctor Who means that the second and third episodes aren't quite so gripping. Although they are subtly involving. There are just a couple of action set pieces in episode three that do grab.
The cliffhanger ending to part three is resolved in a delightfully unexpected way. But then everything does come together superbly for part four. Which features action, swordfights, some great character moments, and a splendid sense of being in the middle of history as it unfolds.
There's also one superb final plot development that you really won't see coming.
This is not the strongest story in this range - pure historicals aren't always to everyone's taste - but it is a splendid bit of drama that does try to do something a little different, and one which does recapture the style for which it is aiming. You might also learn a few things from it. It is well worth a listen.
There's a trailer for the next release in this range on the track right after the end of part four.
Plus just under ten minutes worth of the music from the story on the track after that.