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on 16 January 2010
How much you enjoy this probably depends on what you expect. This is not an action-filled traditional Doctor Who romp (although it does have a few moments of high drama). However it is an intelligent and absorbing radio play. The relaxed pace is a strength for this type of story, allowing every detail to be relished as much as Toby relishes every morsel of food. The two very long episodes actually contributes to this effect allowing the story to mature gently rather than feel rushed or chopped. There is a lot of detail here and the story-telling itself is everything. Colin Baker plays the Doctor to perfection and gets a prominent part. Peri proves what a great companion she can be matured from her TV days. All the supporting cast are equally competant. Highly recommended for a change of pace and some simple but great story-telling.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 1 September 2015
This is the 90th cd set in the Big Finish Main Release range. The story features the Sixth Doctor, travelling with Peri. The Doctor and Peri have decided to have a ‘reading week’, and have landed the Tardis at Ostend in 1913. Relaxing on the beach, the Doctor finds himself rudely awakened by a lady who insists on engaging him in conversation. Miss Alice Bultitude is staying at the same hotel, and wants to get to know the Doctor and his companion. The Doctor then finds himself saving a man from drowning, but when Peri arrives at the Beach, the Doctor seems more in danger of dying than the rescued man did. And in the hotel, a woman in Suite 139 is watching the happenings on the beach, and recounting them to her employer, who is also her patient.

This is a wonderfully evocative story; there is the ‘feel’ of Belgium in pre-War Europe, with the sights and sounds, the theatres and the knick-knack shops. The hotel is elegant, the guests refined, and the food is plentiful and exotic. The story starts off with what seems like a number of innocuous scenes; the guest in Suite 139 is enjoying room service while his nurse tells him of the news of the world; the Doctor is relaxing on the beach and other guests are there as well; while Peri is on her way back to meet the Doctor. But the undercurrents are in the speech and tone of the scenes; there is mystery about everybody, and no-one is quite sure what to make of anyone else. Before long, the Doctor and Peri find themselves caught up in sinister mysteries, and in an adventure that is quite unlike anything they have encountered before.

It’s difficult to describe much more of the story, or how it plays out, without offering spoilers, and I think it’s part of the delight of this story for the listener to be absorbed into it, and to soak up the atmosphere and the characters, all remarkable and all quite wonderfully portrayed and delivered. Apart from the Doctor (played by Colin Baker) and Peri (played by Nicola Bryant), there are four cast: Adjoa Andoh as Nurse Albertine, Paul Brooke as Toby, Michael Keating as Inspector Chardalot, and Maureen O’Brien as Miss Alice Bultitude. I think Paul Brooke played Toby absolutely perfectly, and once you get your head around the whole concept that is being portrayed here as we ‘listen in’ on his life, it’s just spot on. Michael Keating shows a real depth in his portrayal of Inspector Chardalot, and seems to relish his role. And it’s wonderful to hear Maureen O’Brien, who we’re used to hearing as Vicki, a companion of the First Doctor, playing the Miss Marple-like character of Miss Alice Bultitude.

This story makes many literary and cultural references and nods to the theatre and life on the stage. The atmosphere of polite pre-War Belgium is wonderfully brought to life, with the sounds of motor cars and trains, deightfully dotty characters, and a story that really feels like you’re listening to an old radio drama. Wonderfully written in a witty and engaging way, this story plays out before you perfectly. At 146 minutes, it didn’t seem a moment too long to me. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
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on 11 July 2014
This is something of a curiosity. I doubt very much that 80's who would have done a story like this, not just because of the requirements of having a talking pig without it looking stupid but because of the need to have a vintage car chasing a train.

Having said that, it works as a Doctor Who story and this is primarily because it is left to our imaginations as to what it going on.

Plot: While holidaying in Ostend shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, The Doctor rescues Inspector Chardolot from drowning and then gets persuaded by the matronly Miss Bultitude to visit Toby, who turns out to be an intelligent pig with a somewhat suspect past, who is on the run from a 'doctor'. The whole plot is convoluted and interestingly steers away from the need to tie up all loose ends meaning that the whole thing seems somehow more real.

Script: Great script with plenty for the regulars to do and full of interesting characters and events. In particular the sudden appearance of raw cow meat on a beach is discussed almost as a throwaway event, only to be explained later in the story. The constant references to food and hunger by Toby and Chardolot's sneaky eating all add to the fun.

Other: There is great casting here. The four main guest stars all have plenty to say and seem to relish their roles (no pun intended). In particular Paul Brooke's Toby comes across so well.

This is a great piece of Big Finish, a superb little stand-alone story with a stand-alone cast.
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This is the ninetieth release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Colin Baker as Sixie, Nocola Bryant as Peri, Paul Brooke as Toby and Michael Keating as the Inspector. There are 2 episodes, roughly 75 minutes each, complete with original theme music between each, and a cliff hanger ending. One episodes per disc on 2 discs, and a short booklet with some pictures of the cast and production notes.

This production is an absolute aural delight. Set in pre great war Europe at a posh seaside resort, it starts out almost like a Noel Coward comedy of manners. It creates memorable characters in the form of a talking pig who believes that he is the last human on earth, an English Lady with an unhealthy obsession in old music hall turns and a grandiose and over the top inspector of the Gendarmerie. The verbose and grandiloquent Sixth Doctor fits right in with these characters, like a hand into a glove. Colin Baker clearly recognises that this is a production in which his Doctor can shine and really come into his own, and he seizes the script with both hands to wring every last drop from it. The long format of the two episodes allows the story to slowly simmer and gently come to the boil, developing the flavour as it cooks.

It's totally different from anything else in the Big Finish range. It's a thoughtful adventure with a dose of humour, but it still delivers on the thrills front and has an interesting idea at its heart. The writer has an obvious love of language, and a talented cast clearly enjoy getting their tongues around some of the more over the top verbosity. It's entertaining, thought provoking and provides the odd laugh. What more do you want from Who?

The works of Marcel Proust are a running theme through the play, and Toby's final verdict on the book is probably one of the greatest critic's comments I have ever heard.

5 stars for this exceptionally good production.
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on 28 January 2007
Year of the Pig by Matthew Sweet is an odd story. Most of the time you can categorise a Who drama into historical, pseudo-historical (ie sci-fi concepts, historical setting), normal sci-fi or hyperconcept sci-fi (ie really going all out when it comes to imagination). This one is very difficult to find a slot for. And its all the better for it. The blurb synopsis is misleading; don't fall for it. Do as i did; go for on the merits of its three guest actors. (the regulars Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant are as usual fantastic). Micheal Keating (Villa from Blake's 7) is truly excellent as the mysterious inspector Chardalot, Maureen O'Brien (Vicky from wayyyy back in the 60s) is suitably bumbly as Lady Bultitude, Adjoa Andoh (from Casualty) is quite the doting nurse, but scene stealing Paul Brooke (the rancor keeper from Star Wars) is simply spectacular as Toby. The plot is unusual - and thats an understatement. Up until the end you are never really sure what is going on and this is brilliant. It would be a real page-turner if it was on paper. Twists, revelations, ideas and imagination. The only downside i can think of is that its a Two parter - and therefore 2 70minuters instead of the usual 4 25mins. And i do like my cliffhangers...so good, that the one on this is wicked. But thats a mute point in the grand scheme. Highly recommended.

Plus; has the great line "Touch those chocolate biscuits and i'll fillet you!"
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on 22 September 2007
Year of the Pig is another different story type for dr who that just works brilliantly. The characters within this story are all interesting and different from a lot of other plain goodies or baddies in many other whos. i like the slightly slower pace, the story is good enough to carry for its two hours. Some may say the opening episode is a little laboured, just building up to a great ending though in my opinion. The doctor and peri are brilliant as per usual and the voice acting is highly excellent on this story especially. there is a different resolution to the story to, and its full of unexpected moments. this is a great piece of doctor who that is brilliant....
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VINE VOICEon 8 March 2007
If you want to get away from the usual 'monster of the week' style of Doctor Who then 'Year of the Pig' is a very different story, with the 6th Doctor and Peri caught up in the mysterious clash between a sentient pig and a bizarre police inspector. Refreshing in it's bucking of the usual Doctor Who storytelling formulas, and boasting some excellent performances from the small cast, there is only one real problem with this play - it's far, far too long, with the first disc in particular liable to send some listeners to sleep. By no means 'action packed', but if you can stay awake to the second half you'll find this a delightfully oddball dose of Doctor Who.
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on 2 April 2009
This was the first Big Finish audio I listened too and I loved it! The eponymous pig - Toby - is perfectly played by Paul Brooke. I have to admit that the surreal nature of the story meant it was a little confusing, but as a dark comedy I thought it worked really well. Although I have little time for The Sixth Doctor's companion Peri, I think that Colin Baker has gone from strength to strength in his audio roles. Don't worry too much about what any of it means, just relax and enjoy.
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It's belgium, and it's 1913. The sixth doctor and peri are relaxing on the beach when circumstances bring them into contact with some eccentric people. One of them is a talking pig, who's just retired from a life on the stage. And he's hiding from someone who wants to do him harm.

There's more than it seems to all of these people. Can the doctor discover what's really going on?

This is a two part story. The first part is seventy seven minutes long. Which is actually longer than the audio story scaredy cat, and it's almost as long as several others. And there's no discernible reason as to why this is a two parter, are there are perfectly decent cliffhangers in the middle of each episode. Not playing them as cliffhangers, by virtue of not being a four parter, robs the story of any sense of jeopardy or high drama, which is it sorely lacking.

Some stories with long episodes are gripping stuff, but this quickly outstays it's welcome, as part one is pretty much nothing more than scene setting.

Things do pick up slightly in part two, with some interesting twists and turns and surprise revelations about the characters, but there's still no excitement.

This is not a terrible story. It's a well written character drama, and it's very well acted. It's just too long for it's own good, and lacking in good drama. Big finish will be moving shortly to twenty five minute long episodes in each story. I welcome this.
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