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The Angel of Scutari (Doctor Who)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 June 2015
This is a gripping historical adventure from beginning to end.

`The Angel of Scutari' is a four-part story by Paul Sutton featuring the TARDIS team of the Seventh Doctor; Ace and Hex. I enjoyed listening to this audio as it features some really strong character drama and presents the horrors and fatality of war and soldiering really well.

This story is rather unique as it is a purely historical adventure with no sci-fi or aliens featured in it, as it set during the Crimean War of 1854. It harkens back to the classic stories of the William Hartnell era where they did pure historical stories; and it works well here with the Doctor, Ace and Hex.

The story has the Doctor, Ace and Hex visiting the Crimean War at a time of upheaval. The Doctor is accused for being a Russian spy and collaborator whilst Ace gets locked up in a dungeon. Hex treats to the wounded in Scutari and meet Florence Nightingale who inspired him to become a nurse.

The story is unique as Paul Sutton writes the story by having various flashbacks and jumps in time from various characters' perspectives on events like the Doctor; Ace and Hex. It makes it confusing and requires a number of listens. But it's made up for by the strong character drama in the story.

It starts with a lengthy prologue with Florence Nightingale seeing Sir Sidney Herbert, who sends her to Scutari. This is before we have any scenes with the Doctor, Ace and Hex. Some of the cliff-hangers don't get resolved immediately when we come into the next episode or at the very end of the story.

I must admit I'm not very familiar with the Crimean War. I have studied it in my A Level History exams on British Politics in the 19th century, but I found it difficult to absorb when learning. This audio drama provides more insight into the Crimean War which I enjoyed listening to

I really like how Paul Sutton depicts the horrors of war and emphasising the point that the Crimean War was a waste and that it should never have started in the first place. The horror of blood being spilt when soldiers fire their guns on people like the Doctor; Ace and Hex is pretty disturbing.

Sylvester McCoy delivers a superb performance as the Doctor. I like how he admonishes those who seem to glorify in war and remarks on the Crimean War being a waste. The Doctor is accused for being a spy and a collaborator, but receives help from Sir Hamilton Seymour to make his escape.

Sophie Aldred is equally superb as Ace. Her maturity is developed upon; especially she uses her feminine charms to knock somebody out in order to escape. Ace spends time in a dungeon, forming an interesting relationship with a Russian ensign before meeting up with the Doctor again.

But it's Phillip Olivier as Hex who stands out in this story for me. Hex gets to demonstrate his nursing skills and being compassionate when he refuses to stand by and let people suffer during the Crimean War. The Doctor gives Hex his blessing when he decides to stay in Scutari to tend the wounded.

It was a joy to hear Hex revealing that Florence Nightingale was his inspiration to become a nurse, delving deeper into him as a character. Those scenes where Hex meets Florence for the first time are outstanding and the moment where he mentions to her he thinks she's hot is a defining moment.

I've met Phillip at a convention in Newcastle and was really pleased to meet him. He's really good as Hex and as I listen to more of these audios featuring him with the Doctor and Ace, I'm appreciating him more. I'm hoping I'll continue to hear more of his adventures in `Doctor Who' and enjoy them.

The guest cast in this story are superb. There's Jeany Spark as Florence Nightingale. Jeany delivers a superb and believable performance as Florence. It was only until this audio I discovered she was a formidable woman. I found the relationship between Florence and Hex interesting and sweet.

Hugh Bonneville appears in `The Angel of Scutari'. Hugh is well-known in `Downtown Abbey' and has appeared in the `Doctor Who' TV episode `The Curse of the Black Spot'. Here Hugh plays two characters. He plays Sir Sidney Herbert and the Tzar Nicholas I, and plays them both really well.

There's also John Paul Connolly as William Russell (no, not the one who plays Ian Chesterton); Alex Lowe as the unstable Brigadier-General Bartholomew `Barty' Kitchen; Sean Brosnan (who was in `Masquerade' with Peter Davison) as Sir Hamilton Seymour and John Albasiny as Lev Tolstoy.

There's an interesting moment in the final episode of the story where the Doctor and Ace get the TARDIS back. The TARDIS' exterior is no longer a blue police box. It is now a white police box. Why is it `white'? This surprised me when I first heard this. All will be revealed in future audio stories.

The story ends on a cliff-hanger as Hex gets shot in the shoulder. Hex is on the verge of death and the Doctor and Ace take him inside the TARDIS after saying goodbye to Florence Nightingale. The Doctor sets the coordinates as the TARDIS sets off to St. Gart's Hospital. What will happen next?!...

There is an epilogue after the end credits of the finale episode. The scene is between Florence Nightingale with Brigadier-General `Barty' Kitchen; as they pray together to God for forgiveness and others who are suffering. They also pay tribute to Thomas Schofield. What has happened to Hex?!

This has been a great story to listen to on audio. I enjoyed `The Angel of Scutari' and found a gripping historical adventure with the Doctor; Ace and Hex. I wondered where the story would go next and hoped Hex will be alright. I wondered whether he would still be alive the next time we hear him...

The CD extras are as follows. On Disc 1, there is a trailer for `The Company of Friends'. There are also behind-the-scenes interviews with cast and crew. On Disc 2, there's the third episode of `The Three Companions'. The complete story can be found in 'The Companion Chronicles Specials'.

The next story with the Doctor, Ace and Hex is 'Project: Destiny'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is the hundred and twenty second release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Sylvester McCoy as Seven, Sophie Aldred as Ace and Philip Olivier as Hex. There are four episodes, roughly 25-30 minutes each, complete with original theme music between each, and cliff hanger endings. This is the third of a trilogy of adventures that are developing an interesting story arc for Hex. Two episodes per disc on 2 discs, and a short booklet with some pictures of the cast and production notes. There are some interviews with cast and crew at the end of the first disc. There is a treat for regular listeners in the form of the third 10 minute segment of a twelve part adventure called `The Three Companions' on the end of disc 2.

This is an excellent release from the Big Finish team. It ends a trilogy of Seventh Doctor releases in which the character of Hex is explored, and an interesting story arc for him is starting to develop. Following the events of `Enemy Of the Daleks', in which the caring nurse was totally unable to help in anyone in the face of the slaughtering daleks, the Doctor takes him to somewhere where he can be of use - and where he can meet one of his heroes. Scutari at the height of the Crimean war, where a certain Florence Nightingale is due to arrive in a fortnight.

It's not that straightforward though. The writers use the possibilities of time travel to throw in some really interesting adventures for Seven and Ace after they leave Hex to his nursing for a few days. And it's not all plain sailing for Hex as he finds himself in trouble. There are some great ideas here, and they are well realised to give a totally gripping story that keeps you on your toes. The actors are in top form, especially Olivier who relishes this chance to do some interesting character development. His scenes with Florence Nightingale are an absolute treasure. McCoy is impressive as Seven, as is Aldred as Ace, getting a little romance in her life for a change, and Aldred plays it just right.

In years to come all three of this little trilogy (Magic Mousetrap, Enemy Of the Daleks, Angel of Scutari) will probably be looked upon as fan favourites. I know they are all up there in my top ten. The Big Finish team were quite cruel though, they leave this story with the biggest possible cliff hanger, and it was a 16 month wait to find out how it played out. Luckily, I do not now have to wait and can just go straight to the next tale in the arc, Project Destiny.

A superb release. Intelligently scripted, a cracking historical romp, some time travel shenanigans, great performances. It has all the elements of a classic story, 5 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
latest doctor who audio play, featuring the seventh doctor and his companions ace and hex. this one follows on from the events in the preceding play Doctor Who: Enemy of the Daleks (Dr Who Big Finish) but it fills in enough detail so that those who havent heard that one should be able to get into this easily.

running for four twenty five minute episodes spread over two discs, this story sees the tardis arrive in a british military hospital during the crimean war. florence nightingale is on her way, but in the meantime hex, a trained nurse, takes the chance to do some good. which he needs, after what he went through in enemy of the daleks.

Thing is, some of the people at the hospital already know the doctor. and when he and ace go back a little further in time to find why, they get themselves into a lot of trouble. can hex survive meeting his idol, the lady of the lamp? and will the tardis crew survive possible execution and spies and be reunited?

the only science fiction elements in this are the tardis and the time travelling. the rest is a straight historical and character drama. and in that respect it works superbly. full of believable and well acted characters who have very human reactions to the events that go on around them, and also well researched historical details, this is a strong piece of character drama and it grips superbly as a result. the non linear nature of the story may be slightly difficult to get to grips with at first but it rewards listener effort in the end.

and you will not forget the end of episode four in a hurry.

There's a scene after the final credits which doesnt add anything to the plot but it's another well acted strong character moment, so it's worth a listen to.

As is the whole story. It's a quality piece of drama.

disc one ends with fourteen minutes worth of interviews with cast and crew. this is half the length of some they've done on previous releases but frankly less is more here.

The end of disc two contains episode three of the three companions, a story being told in thirteen eleven minute long episodes, one to each monthly big finish release. this story is progressing now those who haven't heard parts one and two may not be able to get into this instalment.

but if you have, then it's a story that is progressing quite well. former companion polly is telling a story of how she and the doctor and friends ran into trouble on a nightmare planet. which is a superbly original and well realised setting. at the same time former fifth doctor audio companion thomas brewster is waiting for contact from a man. And you'll start to see how the stories will tie together. all in all, this one is progressing nicely.

And all in all, another strong release from big finish, who have really been on top of their game so far this year.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2010
This is a decent Big Finish audio play; an informative pure historical. Unfortunately this is not as satisfying as it should be. The convoluted story-telling whizzes back and forward in time and between storylines, demanding close attention and a repeat listen to be followed (although for some this may be a strength). However, this means that on first listening "The Angel of Scutari" is not as engaging as it should be. I generally prefer a straighter storytelling and a slightly less "knowing" Doctor. The story is driven by those overly used and tedious "rules of time" and "causality" hinderances. For this reason I dropped one star. However apart from this there is a decent story here with some strong performances, so I don't regret the purchase.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Back cover blurb:
October 1854: As the British Army charges into catastrophe in the Crimea, the Minister for War sends Miss Florence Nightingale to take charge of the field hospital at Scutari.

But there's already an angel of mercy working with the sounded at Scutari. A first-rate felow who's turned up out of the blue. Goes by the name of Schofield; Thomas Hector Schofield...

With the Doctor and Ace lost in the siege of Sebastopol, Hex has rediscovered his calling. But there's cannon to the left of him, cannon to the right of him - and a deranged spycatcher-in-chief on his case...

The third in a loose three story arc, this audio adventure sees The Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), and his companions Ace (Sophie Aldred) and Hex (Philip Olivier) travel back in Earth's history to the infamous Scutari Barracks, the Turkish military hospital in which Florence Nightingale drastically improved sanitary conditions and famously saved the lives of many British soldiers injured in the Crimean conflict.

Seeming at first to be a straightforward `historical' story, we soon learn that The Doctor has been here before, and has to go back along his own timeline to ensure there are no repercussions.
Jeany Spark plays the famous `Lady with the Lamp' as a necessarily hard-nosed and ballsy character, rather than the soft gentle angel of history, and this is refreshing as you know that she'd have had to be tough to thrive in such a hellhole.

The Doctor's spunky teenage companion Ace is separated from her friends early on and this gives actress Sophie Aldred a rare opportunity to plough another furrow for the character, finding love in an unlikely place. Liverpudlian nurse Hex also gets the chance to play to his character's strengths, as he rolls up his sleeves and mucks in.

Overall this is a powerful historical war drama - with a bit of time travel thrown in for good measure. An engaging and intelligent story that is the equal of anything in the Big Finish range.
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