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 the role, to read an all new adventure for their character.
They also do all the voices save one, which is done by a guest actor.
These stories are usually complete in two parts of roughly thirty minutes each, and presented on a single cd.
This one sees Maureen O'Brien return to the role of Vicki, who she played opposite William Hartnell's Doctor back in the 1960's. She appeared in several stories back then with Peter Purves as fellow companion Steven Taylor. And he's the guest actor in this one, reading all of Steven's lines.
The story sees the TARDIS land in a dusty and run down old attic, full of various old items. It turns out to be the attic of Number 10 Downing Street, in Victorian times [this is not a spoiler as this information is on the back of the cd box and on the inlay also].
However, something else is in the attic with them. Something alien. Which presents a terrible threat. To the human race. And beyond....
Maureen O'Brien hasn't done too many of these, so it's nice to hear her again. She does have a good reading voice, and she makes it distinctively different to her reading of Vicki's lines.
Anyone who has heard the stories Peter Purves has done will know how good his take on the First Doctor's voice is. Maureen O'Brien's, which as ever is an approximation rather than an impersonation, does have a certain charm to it as well. It does capture the essence of the character.
The first episode does feel a bit slow to get going. We know where the TARDIS has landed, but it takes the characters a while to find out. The episode tries to build subtle unsettling mood via description and sound design, but it never feels as threatening as perhaps it should.
Once they do find where they are, though, it really takes off. You will learn an incredible amount of absoutely fascinating history about the location. The research the writer has clearly done is very impressive. The nature of the threat, once revealed, is very original. It also does manage to succeed at being subtly disturbing horror.
The behaviour of other characters is convincing because it is so rooted in the style of the times. Although it does look as if the resolution of part two might be rushed, it does then manage to wrap everything up in a satisfactory manner.
A clever and original piece of work. It does take, as mentioned, it's time to get going. But you won't forget it in a hurry. Definitely worth a listen.
There's a trailer for the next release in this range on the cd track after the end of part two.
And almost fourteen minutes worth of interviews with Maureen O'Brien and the director of the story on the two tracks after that. A lot of this involves discussion of 'Doctor Who - the Early Adventures' a new range that will be out next year, and replace the companion chronicles which will come to an end then. Thus this does act as a very interesting preview.
This is one of the series of Companion Chronicles (the third story in the eighth series). These normally feature a past companion of one of the Doctor’s incarnations, narrating a story from their time with the Doctor, and performing the roles of most of the cast along the way, with usually one other actor playing a key role in the story. This story, written by Mat Coward features two of the First Doctor’s companions, Steven Taylor (played by Peter Purves) and Vicki (played by Maureen O‘Brien).
The narrative is undertaken by Vicki, with voices performed by Maureen O’Brien, and Steven voiced by Peter Purves. The Tardis has landed, but Steven and Vicki aren’t very keen to stay wherever they are – it seems to be a dusty old attic, of no interest. But the Doctor, peering out the window, decides that they are in early twentieth century London, and that as they have now appeared in someone’s attic, it would be only polite to announce their presence to the inhabitants. Strangely, though, it seems to be very difficult to find a way out of the attic, and before long the travellers begin to think that they’re not just in any ordinary house attic at all. Can they even find their way back to the Tardis, before whatever it is that controls this place, finds them?
This is a great story. I really liked the gothic, spooky atmosphere which is conjured up almost immediately in the story, as the Tardis travellers wend their way through the various rooms in the attic. And then, slowly, something of the odd nature of wherever they must be starts to seep into their consciousness. And from there, things start to get really odd.
This story has a real feel of a classic First Doctor story. The performances by Maureen O’Brien and Peter Purves are absolutely wonderful. Listening to the extras, it was entertaining to hear Maureen O’Brien talking about how she managed to try and do her impression of William Hartnell’s First Doctor, and while it obviously doesn’t sound exactly like William Hartnell, it really is uncannily like him in the mannerisms and inflections of the delivery. A really top notch companion chronicle, and definitely recommended.