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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars it's good to have friends
latest doctor who audio play from big finish, and a rather special release which requires a bit of explanation for casual listeners and those who havent read every doctor who novel published since 1991 or who don't read the official magazine.

in books and in the comic strip in the magazine, the eighth doctor had quite a few different companions. some of them...
Published on 27 Aug 2009 by Paul Tapner

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0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars You suck!!
I like the 5th doctor collections of stories better. I didn't much like the stories of Izzy and Fitz and the story with Benny was okay. The only one I really like is the Mary Shelly one.
Published 21 months ago by Wendy


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars it's good to have friends, 27 Aug 2009
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Company of Friends (Doctor Who)
latest doctor who audio play from big finish, and a rather special release which requires a bit of explanation for casual listeners and those who havent read every doctor who novel published since 1991 or who don't read the official magazine.

in books and in the comic strip in the magazine, the eighth doctor had quite a few different companions. some of them appear here in one part adventures. but don't worry if you're not familiar with them as they all introduce themselves in short scenes at the start of each story.

the first one involves professor bernice summerfield, wisecracking hard drinking vivacious interstellar archaeologist, who appeared in books with the seventh doctor and then one with the eighth. and who has been in two seventh doctor audios as well. here she meets the eighth when on a dig. her mysterious employer turns out to be seeking a tardis key. and you can guess who it belongs to. the doctor and benny have to run for their lives and figure out why the woman wants a tardis so much. and where all tbose dinosaurs suddenly came from...

this one takes a little while to get going, but after about ten minutes you do get into it as benny and the doctor make a fun team. it's thirty five minutes long though, which feels about five minutes more than required. the villainess gets a bit tiresome. and whilst there's some clever plotting involving time paradoxes a lot of it feels a bit over familiar. nice final scenes between benny and the doctor though.

next it's a story for fitz kreiner, twenty seven year old londoner from 1963. a cockney wide boy out to impress the ladies, he and the doctor investigate an organisation that promises to protect a world from alien invasion. only the real threat comes from a different direction....

I read the books fitz was in and never imagined him speaking the way he does here, but I was wrong! because matt d'angleo's performance brings the character to life amazingly well and he's hugely appealing. the story does contain one good twist, allows paul mcgann to play a rather different take on the doctor, and it perfectly paced at twenty eight minutes. and lets hope there's more fitz in due course, because he's great.

third is izzy sinclair. teenage girl and science fiction fan who travelled with the eighth doctor in the comic strip in the magazine. from 1996, and there's a funny line which emphasises that fact. jemima rooper's reading makes her a rather loud and brash character, but she's quite entertaining with it. the story has her and the doctor trying to find an issue of a comic in the 80's and running into strange men who are out to destroy every copy of it.

there are lots of in jokes in here that will go over your head if you didnt read british comics in 70's and 80's, but you should find it fun anyway. this is the kind of story that could have been told in a comic strip. it's quite well paced at just over thirty minutes, and it's not of great consequence. but it's fun.

and then there's marys story. mary shelley the writer of frankenstein was mentioned in passing in an earlier eighth doctor audio as having been a companion of his. and here is the story of how she and the doctor met. when at the villa diodati in 1986 a mysterious stranger comes knocking on the door. a man who knows more about her than possible, given that they've never met. and who inspires marys friends to try an experiment that has consequences...

this brings in a few frankenstein style cliches but is never scary although it's nicely atmospheric. it does contain one great plot development. but it really wants to be a final story for this doctor. and it cant because that would impinge on new series territory and big finish dont have the license for that. but as a little character it's a decent enough listen. it's also roughly thirty minutes long.

there are eleven minutes of interviews with cast and crew at the end of disc one, which are enjoyable and brief.

and at the end of disc two is part four of the three companions, a story that is being told one part per month over the ongoing big finish releases. this part brings to an end a story that polly has been telling over the past three. whilst it wraps up a third of the story and moves things along slightly, the villain of the piece now being apparant, this is starting to seem a bit of a long haul. but with an impending change of focus in the next part, that should revitalise it.

theres one great episode here, two very good ones, and one okay one. so this is more than worth getting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Doctor Who & The Companions, 10 July 2014
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Timelord-007 (The Eccentric Wanderer) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Company of Friends (Doctor Who)
Doctor Who: The Company Of Friends.
Doctor: Eighth Doctor.
Companion(s).
Benny's Story by Lance Parkin.
Fitz's Story by Stephen Cole.
Izzy's Story by Alan Barnes.
Mary's Story by Jonathan Morris
Release number: 123..
Format: 4 Episodes on 2 CDs.
Running time 120 minutes.

Extras.
Trailer.
Behind the scenes interviews.
The Three Companions Part 4.

Trivia.
1)The chronological placement of these adventures is unclear, but it is fair to assume that they all occur soon after the Television Movie, earlier than any other main range drama.
2)Benny last appeared in the main Doctor Who range in 2003's The Dark Flame opposite the Seventh Doctor and Ace. 3)Benny first met the Eighth Doctor in the NA novel The Dying Days.
4)Fitz appeared in the Eighth Doctor Adventures novels, starting with The Taint. How he parted company with the Doctor is uncertain, as he was also in the final book of the range, The Gallifrey Chronicles.
5)Izzy was the first companion given to the Eighth Doctor in the Doctor Who Magazine comics. She traveled with him from End Game until Oblivion. In this audio story, they visit Stockbridge, a town which has featured in many Doctor Who.
6)In the 1996 TV Movie, during the first moments of the Eighth Doctor's life, the 1931 film adaptation of Mary's Frankenstein was playing on a nearby television, mirroring the creature's first moments of life.
7)The characters Samson and Gemma, who are waiting for the Doctor in Vienna, were previously heard in Terror Firma. They are waiting for him the on the same day as Mary's Story, in June, 1816.
8)Mary Shelley's adventures with the Doctor continue after this, starting with The Silver Turk, in which he attempts to reunite with Samson and Gemma.

Plot Synopsis.
Benny's Story.
by Lance Parkin.
Benny is hired to recover a familiar artifact: the key to the TARDIS.

Cast.
The Doctor - Paul McGann.
Bernice Summerfield - Lisa Bowerman.
Klarner - Richard Earl.
Venhella - Su Douglas.

Fitz's Story.
by Stephen Cole
The Doctor & Fitz investigate an alien world's alien defense business.

Cast.
The Doctor - Paul McGann.
Fitz Kreiner - Matt Di Angelo.
Commander Hellan Femor - Fenella Woolgar.
Michael Rond - Paul Thornley.
Gem Weston - Su Douglas.

Izzy's Story.
by Alan Barnes
Izzy asks the Doctor to look into the rarest comic book in history: 'Aggrotron!'

Cast.
The Doctor - Paul McGann.
Izzy Sinclair - Jemima Rooper.
Grubb/The Man - Steve Hansell.
Grakk/Clerkie/The Camp Robot - Teddy Kempner.
Courtmaster Cruel - Anthony Glennan.
Foreman - Ian Hallard.
Juror - Katrina Cooke.
Captain Cannibal - Robert Forknall.
Suits - Robert Forknall/Ian Hallard.

Mary's Story.
by Jonathan Morris.
Mary Shelley becomes inspired by events in Switzerland, 1816, at the Villa Diodati when she meets the two Doctors.

Cast.
The Doctor - Paul McGann.
Mary Shelley - Julie Cox.
Percy Shelley - Anthony Glennon.
Lord Byron - Robert Forknall.
John Polidori - Ian Hallard.
Claire Clairmont - Katrina Cooke.

The Three Companions: bonus feature, Part 4.
Cremation Point by Marc Platt

Cast.
Polly - Anneke Wills.
The Brigadier - Nicholas Courtney.
Gerry Lenz/Announcer - Russell Floyd.

Timelord Thoughts.
This release contains 4 one part adventures from 4 different writers with each story featuring a different Eighth Doctor companion.

Benny's Story.
Benny swing into action alongside the Doctor in this there only pairing on audio to date, Lisa Bowerman is as excellent as ever as Bernice (Benny) Summerfield as an archeological dig searches for the Tardis key.

This features some great scenes between the Eighth Doctor & Benny as the mystery is somehow connected to smuggling Time Lord tech off Gallifrey, Overall an excellent opener by Lance Parkin.
Timelord Rating.
8/10

Fitz's Story
Fitz as a regular companion to the Eighth Doctor in the BBC Eighth Doctor novels as Matt Di Angelo takes on the role of Fitz Kreiner & smashes it out of the park, written by Stephen Cole this is a fun alien adventure & any story that creates a replica Doctor made out of a water dispenser! Surely has to be heard, Overall a humoured alien adventure with a great performance by Matt Di Angelo as Fitz.
Timelord Rating.
8/10

Izzy's Story.
Companion Izzy Sinclair is played by Gemima Rooper & captures Izzy to perfection yet the plot gets a little over the top in it's humour at times as The Doctor & Izzy use the Tardis to collect back issues of comics, Overall a good story but the weakest of the 4 stories.
Timelord Rating.
7/10.

Mary's Story.
They saved the best till last as writer Jonathan Morris deliver a excellent chilling adventure featuring 2 Eighth Doctors.

Julie cox is wonderful as Mary Shelley delivering compassion & intelligence to her interpretation of her character that sees the older Eighth Doctor in big trouble & inadvertently summons his younger Eighth self to help save his older Eighth self as writer Jonathan Morris delivers a superb timey wimey complex gothic adventure that has themes of Shelleys 'Frankenstein' running throughout, Overall my favourite story of these compilation of 4 stories & goes to prove just what a excellent writer Jonathan Morris is for Doctor Who.
Timelord Rating.
5/5

Overall 4 quality storys that each have something unique to offer, With great performances & atmospheric sound effects The Company Of Friends is a enjoyable entertaining multi story audio adventure.
Timelord Overall Rating.
9/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adventures with Benny, Fitz, Izzy and Mary, 29 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Company of Friends (Doctor Who)
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to `The Company of Friends' starring Paul McGann as the Doctor. It is one of the most invigorating anthology releases from Big Finish and it is worth listening to.

`The Company of Friends' follows the same line of four single-episode story CDs as other releases including (my favourite) `Circular Time', `100', `Forty Five' and `The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories'. This time however, instead of pairing the Eighth Doctor with one companion across four episodes, he gets to have an episode each with four different and very distinct companions. By the way, these stories are set before the Doctor ever meets Charley Pollard and Lucie Miller

The Eighth Doctor hasn't had much of a life on television, since he has had one single TV appearance in the form of the 'TV Movie'. But since then, there have been various adventures with the Eighth Doctor in the form of comics, books and of course audio dramas. Each of the four episodes in `The Company of Friends' takes place during various parts of the Doctor's life in the comics and novels when he was travelling with companions. They are Bernice Summerfield, Fitz Kriener, Izzy Sinclair and Mary Shelley.

'BENNY'S STORY'

The first story is `Benny's Story' and it teams the Eighth Doctor with Professor Bernice Summerfield - or Benny to her friends.

Benny (played by Lisa Bowermen, who I've met and had the CD cover signed by her recently) is a former companion of the Seventh Doctor in the Virgin `New Adventures' novels back in the early 90s, first appearing in `Love and War' (now an audio drama). She would eventually meet the Eighth Doctor after her travels in the TARDIS in the last New Adventures novel - 'The Dying Days' written by Lance Parkin (who has also written this story). Here in this story, she is reunited with the Eighth Doctor after so long during a mining expedition on an alien planet.

Lisa Bowermen was lovely when I met her first time, and has appeared in her own series of adventures with Big Finish as Benny. I think it's actually rather nice when she's in a Doctor Who story with either Sylvester McCoy or Paul McGann. It would be very interesting to hear some more adventures with the Eighth Doctor and Benny, as was certainly the intention back in the day when they hoped to renew the license for the `New Adventures' novel series.

'FITZ'S STORY'

The second story is `Fitz's Story', teaming Doctor Eight with cocky 1960s dreamer and woman-fancier Fitz Kriener.

Fitz (played by Matt Di Angelo from `Eastenders') is a character from the BBC Books featuring the Eighth Doctor during the late 90s. I really found Fitz enjoyable to listen to and wished Big Finish could adapt some of the BBC Books into audio dramas with the Doctor, Fitz and possibly with Sam Jones and Anji Kapoor who also feature in the novels. Fitz is wise-cracking street-wise Londoner born from Germany, and really wants to have his way with the ladies. Stephen Cole who wrote this story, also created the character in the novels, so he's having a lot of fun writing him again.

I found this story to be my favourite from the CD release as it's about an alien defence agency called ADI (Alien Defence Incorporated) on a human colony making advertisements with a `fake' doctor, and the Doctor and Fitz go and investigate what's going on to find some aliens investing the agency. It's a really funny story with lots of TV companies and new channels running around in it. There's also a lovely guest star appearance from Fenella Woolgar who played Agatha Christie in `The Unicorn and the Wasp' with David Tennant.

'IZZY'S STORY'

The third story `Izzy's Story' features the Doctor and his companion Izzy Sinclar.

Izzy (played by Jemima Rooper) is a character from the comic strip adventures of the Eighth Doctor in `Doctor Who Magazine'. Izzy is a tennage sci-fi geek from the village of Stockbridge, who first appeared in the comic book story 'End Game' battling with the Doctor and Maxwell Edison against the Celestial Toymaker. Alan Barnes who created Izzy in the comic strips also writes her in this story, and knows the character inside out. Izzy is someone who has seen every episode of `Star Trek: The Next Generation' and has read every boy's comic of `Aggatron'. In this story, she tries to get the last issue of that particular comic strip from some arty-like aliens.

I thrilled to find Jemima Rooper playing Izzy in this since I know her well for playing George in `The Famous Five' and for her performance in `The Railway Children'. Having to hear Jemima's voice again and for her to play a spunky and cool companion for the Doctor was a pleasure to hear. I was surprised to learn that Jemima actually auditioned for the part of Rose Tyler for the new series which eventually went to Billie Piper. I would definitely like to hear more adventures with Jemima as Izzy with Paul's Doctor and perhaps have the comic strips turned into audio dramas somehow.

'MARY'S STORY'

The fourth and final story in `The Company of Friends' is the most intriguing tale of all. It features the Doctor having his first meeting with the well-known literary author - Mary Shelley.

Mary Shelley (played by Julie Cox) is well known for authoring the gothic horror novel `Frankenstien'. There are lots of hints mentioned right from 'Storm Warning' and certainly in 'Shada' and 'The Girl Who Never Was' about the Doctor meeting Mary Shelley. Jonathan Morris (the writer of this tale) has the task of introducing Mary Shelley and having her first proper meeting with the Doctor. And it's not just one Doctor, but two. First we have a Doctor from the future appearing (possibly during the Great Time War) and also a younger Doctor following after the TV Movie. It's quite a complicated story and certainly has Jonny Morris being tricksy again with time paradoxes and so on. It also features how Mary got the inspiration for `Frankenstein' from first meeting the Doctor.

Julie Cox is wonderful as Mary Shelley. Her performance is so natural and lovely to listen to, and it got me hooked when listening to how the character sympathises with the `monster' and how her relationship with the Doctor develops in this story. Julie's a lovely person, and it's no surprise that she was asked to come back and do some more Doctor Who's as Mary Shelley with Paul McGann in 'The Silver Turk', 'The Witch from the Well' and 'Army of Death'. It's really nice to hear from this story how the Doctor met Mary and gave her the inspiration to become a classic writer and how she got to travel in the TARDIS.

I really like it how at the start of each of the four stories it begins with a monologue sequence with each of the four companions explaining who they are and how they met the Doctor. This helps with getting us to know them quickly without having to become lost in the stories they feature in. I really like this approach and I hope to hear more of these characters in Big Finish.

The special features for this CD are as follows.

At the beginning of Disc One, there's a coming soon trailer for 'Patient Zero' with Colin Baker and India Fisher. At the end of Disc One, there's some behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew on the making of `The Company of Friends' including Alan Barnes, Lisa Bowermen, Matt Di Angelo, Jemima Rooper and Julie Cox.

On Disc 2, there's a little bonus episode of `The Three Companions' starring Anneke Wills (Polly), Nicholas Courtney (the Brigadier) and John Pickard (Thomas Brewster). It's a nice little episode and it concludes the Polly arc of the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed `The Company of Friends' very much. My eyes have been opened to more of the Eighth Doctor's life in comics and books and it certainly goes to show that Big Finish can do anything in telling more stories about companions featured in the books and in the comics. Here's to more adventures with Benny, Izzy, Fitz and Mary with the Eighth Doctor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Company Of Friends: Typical, I can't even lose my key without it turning into an epic saga!, 31 May 2013
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Company of Friends (Doctor Who)
This is the hundred and twenty third release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Paul McGann as Eight and features a variety of companions. There are four episodes, roughly 25-30 minutes each, complete with original theme music between each. There are four stand alone episodes, each with a different companion. 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 fourth 10 minute segment of a twelve part adventure called `The Three Companions' on the end of disc 2.

Benny's Story - A fun opening story that brings back one of my favourite of the Seventh Doc's early companions, the incomparable Bernice Summerfield played by Lisa Bowerman. Here she is hired for an archaeological dig that turns up a TARDIS key. Pretty soon Eight is on the scene and he and Benny are plunged into a dimension tearing history bending adventure with a great concept at it's heart. As well as Benny as a companion, the story looks long and hard at the Doctor's relationship with the TARDIS, in an interesting fashion. It's a cracking opener, full of energy as Eight and Benny bounce off each other and clearly have a lot of fun saving reality as we know it.

Fitz's Story - This episode sees the Doctor and Fitz Kleiner investigating a company that are making TV adverts. Adverts that feature the Doctor. Naturally narked he sets off to find out just what is happening while Fitz acts as back up and chats up anything with a pulse. It packs quite a bit into it's short run time, and while it is fun I was left with the feeling that there wasn't much more mileage to be had from the Fitz character.

Izzy's Story - Another lighthearted story in which super geek Izzy enlists the Doctor's help in tracking down the ultimate geek prize, the final issue of the comic Aggotron, in which Courtmaster Cruel's secret identity is finally revealed. What follows is a fun tale as Eight and Izzy battle comic book heroes and villains who are somehow real. Another energetic and fun story, but again I felt that this was about as far as the Izzy character could go.

Mary's Story - The Mary here is Mary Shelley, and this tale recounts what REALLY happened on that night in the Villa Diodati when Frankenstein was written. This is an interesting and symbolic tale, that places itself firmly very early in the eighth Doctor's timeline, before his adventures with Charlotte and C'Rizz, and the darker edge he would later assume. In it we say goodbye to the older, darker Eight that Big Finish have built up over the previous few years, and welcome back the irrepressible fun loving tigger like adventurer that we fell in love with back in the early BF days. I hope that they continue with this characterisation, it is a lot of fun. The story itself is dark and twisting, with some unexpected turns along the way. It is the best on the set, and sets up Mary as a continuiong companion very nicely.

In all 5 stars for this entertaining set. I quite like this idea of trialling prospective companions, and it was used to even better effect in the Eight Doctor adventure `Situation Vacant'.
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0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars You suck!!, 5 Mar 2013
By 
Wendy (Chertsey, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Company of Friends (Doctor Who)
I like the 5th doctor collections of stories better. I didn't much like the stories of Izzy and Fitz and the story with Benny was okay. The only one I really like is the Mary Shelly one.
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The Company of Friends (Doctor Who) by Alan Barnes (31 July 2009)
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