This is the eighth story in the sixth series of the Companion Chronicle stories. These stories are those which we didn’t see on tv, but which happened in the incarnations of a particular Doctor, as told by a companion who was travelling with them at the time. Usually there is a companion who voices and narrates most of the story, together with one guest star as another character. Unusually in this story, narration and voice duties are undertaken by two companions – Frazer Hines as Jamie, and Anneke Wills as Polly Wright. The story is that of the Second Doctor, travelling with Jamie, Polly and Ben. The story takes place between The Macra Terror and The Faceless Ones.
As anyone knows, if you leave your vehicle without paying the necessary fee, you’re likely to find it immobilised on your return. The Doctor learns the hard way, and he and his companions head into the GalactiBank to get a loan so he can pay the ten credit fee and they can all head off in the Tardis. Unfortunately, the Doctor’s bad day is about to get much worse, as the Bank is about to be targeted by some very unusual robbers – the Selachians.
This is a great story. Frazer Hines and Anneke Wills share the load in the story, both acting in character as Jamie and Polly, and voicing the other characters. They both do a great job impersonating the Doctor (Frazer Hines does this brilliantly) and their other companion, Ben. Other characters in the story are some of those caught in the bank raid, and their would-be rescuers. The story itself is much more than might be imagined, if you think it’s just going to be a bank holdup. There are layers upon layers in this story, and all the characters have their own motivations. The GalactiBank is a great location for a story like this, and the Doctor, and all three of his companions, get a chance to be fully involved in the story. Great stuff.
on 13 April 2014
Last year's 50th anniversary of Doctor Who was, for some of us, a time to look back...sometimes to a time before we started watching it. The act of doing so put you in the Doctor's shoes - you were actually travelling back in time!
So it was that, accompanied by a great opportunity to interview Anneke 'Polly' Wills at Exeter's Phonicon '13, I began to revisit the early Pat Troughton era of the programme, a period before I had watched it on telly (in fact, I'd only just been born). And what a glorious period that was: the magnificent Polly and Ben (the deb and the pleb), joined by Jamie in The Highlanders (he would go on to be the Doctor's longest-serving companion) all fitted magnificently into a time we now recall with a hazy 'Austin Powers' glow. As for Pat Troughton himself, he might not have created the role but to have pulled off the risky experiment of the first regeneration and a complete change in personality took rare talent and charisma.
And now we can relive that time again with ersatz nostalgia like this - actually recorded in 2012! Anneke Wills still sounds like Polly (and, having shared a stage with her, I can confirm could practically still play the part on screen, she's aged so well!) and Frazer Hines like Jamie...but here he also takes on the roles of the Doctor and Ben, Pat Troughton and Michael Craze having sadly departed. His Cockney accent for Ben is impressive, while his channelling of Patrick Troughton's tone and mannerisms is nothing short of spooky. The two were great friends in real life (in fact, all four seemed to get on like a house on fire) and I think that must have helped.
The story is great fun and feels like one of its period. Talented writer Steve Lyons introduced the Selachians (talking sharks in spacesuits) in his book The Murder Game, back in the 90s (which also featured Pat's Doctor, Ben and Polly but not Jamie). Here he manages to poke subtle fun at the banking crisis and to use a device SOMEONE had to use at some time: the TARDIS gets clamped!
Audio works so well for this sort of thing. If it had appeared on TV in 1966, the special effects would have been pretty ropy (see those bits of The Tenth Planet or The Underwater Menace that survive) - here it's all in the mind. And who can't imagine a talking shark in a spacesuit?
Ten out of ten! As the late, lamented Michael Craze would surely have said: 'Nice one, Duchess - and you, me ol' haggis!'
on 17 April 2012
This is a great addition to the Companion Chronicles range by Big Finish!
Starring Frazer Hines and Anneke Wills, both actors give extremely credible performances of not only their own characters but also of Ben and the Doctor. Hines' portrayal of the Doctor is nothing short of magnificent, he really does capture the mannerisms and the characterisation of Patrick Troughton as the Doctor, and it makes not only this story but every companion chronicle he does even more engrossing!
The story/plot isn't exactly difficult to follow in this release, but then that's what I like about the TV stories from this era; there's an innocence and simplicity about them! The Selachians are good villians that I have enjoyed in print before, but this is my first time of hearing them on audio (I believe they have been used in a Big Finish story before) and to be honest I didn't really like sound design for their voices, but it's got to be hard to come up with something that sounds like a talking shark in a spacesuit!
Overall, a really listenable and enjoyable Second Doctor story made by Frazer Hines' and Anneke Wills' strong performances, and one I'd recommend!
on 3 July 2015
I liked Anneke Wills very much when she was playing Polly back in the Sixties, and I'm glad she's been contributing to these Big Finish Companion Chronicles. She has a lovely voice & reads/acts them very well indeed.
This is, sadly, not one of the better ones. Steve Lyons wrote some excellent Missing Adventures novels, but this one about an alien bank heist seems unoriginal and flat.