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This is the second release from Big Finish in their range of audio only adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. Starring Peter Davison as Five, Mark Strickson as Turlough and from the pen of Mark Gatiss, this is a cracking adventure that really captures the feel of the old TV adventures, while subtly updating and making use of the fact that on audio the visual effects are so much easier to realise. There are four episodes, roughly 25 minutes each, complete with original theme music between each, and cliff hanger endings. Two episodes per disc on 2 discs, and a short booklet with some notes from the author.

Gatiss has created a script that seems to owe a lot to The Visitation. Set in 1702, the Doctor and Turlough find themselves in London where there are strange disappearances. It is son appararent that there is an alien force at work. The Doctor has to contend with demons, gentlemen's clubs, mysterious card games, a highwayman who is not all he seems and an alien presence bent on destroying London. There is plenty of atmosphere, especially from the rich cast of early 18th century gentleman, played by a talented cast who ham it up to the rafters. Things soon get dark and a little creepy, and in the realisation of the alien space ship, the benefits of audio rather than low budget TV soon become clear. The imagery that Gatiss and the cast draw in the mind's eye really sends a shiver down my spine.

Davison and Strickson step right back into their roles as though they had never been away, and as I said, this really fits in with the old series, with the characterisation of each fitting in well with how the characters had developed during the TV days and the gap between `Resurrection of the Daleks' and `Planet of Fire' during which I think this story is set. An excellent job from all concerned, 4 stars.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 10 January 2016
This is the second story in the Main Range series by Big Finish, first released in 1999. Written by Mark Gatiss, this story features the Fifth Doctor, as played by Peter Davison, with Turlough, as played by Mark Strickson. I was surprised to find that Mark Gatiss has only written two stories, it seems, for the BF Main Range. The idea for this story came from a League of Gentlemen sketch.

The story is set in 1702, in London, England. The Doctor and Turlough have landed in the Tardis in a house; and while it takes them a bit of time to get their bearings, they soon find that they have landed in London during a time of mysterious disappearances, and odd occurrences. The householder in whose house they find themselves is a gentleman scholar, Dr Samuel Holywell, and he and the Doctor try to unravel what’s going on; as Turlough, separated from the Doctor by strange hauntings, befriends some of the local members of the Diabola Club.

This is a great story; I loved the setting of London, at the end of William III’s reign, when coffee houses are all the rage, and men spend their evenings at the Club; watchmen call the hour, stallholders sell their wares by the streetside, and highwaymen terrorise the roads at night. The Doctor and Turlough both get great roles to play in the story, and the supporting cast are really well written, and very strongly played by the guest actors. In particular Steven Wickham as Dr Samuel Holywell, David Walliams as Quincy Flowers, Mark Gatiss as Jasper Jeake, and David Ryall as Sir Nikolas Valentine really bring a real ‘feel’ of post-Restoration London to the listening experience. Great stuff.
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on 2 September 2013
Welcome to London at the dawn of the eighteenth century, where young men of varied character are disappearing, while blackguards and Phatasmagoria roam, frightening the unwary. Amidst this, the Fifth Doctor and Turlough pick their way through an intriguing plot...

Gatiss has written a solid adventure, richly textured with atmosphere and character, both of which are given plenty of time to develop before the story starts to bite. We are introduced to the various players in this mystery expertly and satisfyingly, the sketchiness of some relevant to the plot. The Doctor himself seems to be a comfortable portrayal, Peter Davison giving a slightly more mature performance than on screen, while Turlough doesn't seem to quite fit. His character is largely there, but some of his more striking elements, such as his sense of self-preservation, seem to have been played down or ignored, presumably to serve the plot, which requires more of him than you would have expected. It actually feels a little as though the script has been tweaked to allow for actor availability rather than written specifically for him.
Supporting characters fare somewhat better, a sort of proto-Jago and Litefoot being the main support: a man of eloquence but dubious character working with Turlough, while a doctor with a penchant for the occult providing support and clues to the Doctor. The actors get themselves round the occasionally prosaic language admirably, using horrendously obscure terms on occasions, but thankfully in a context that generally allows you make make sense of them.

In the end, script, cast and production all largely gel, producing a solid, if slightly unremarkable adventure that's worth a listen, if only to enjoy Mark Gatiss' occasional quirky use of language.
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on 8 August 2004
With the brand new television production imminent, it's nice to get a flavour of Mark Gatiss' writing style for Doctor Who. Famous for the BBC comedy series 'The League of Gentlemen', Gatiss has written for the new series as well as for these Big Finish audio CDs
On the whole, it's a strong story, set in London in the early 1700's, it has echoes of The Visitation, even down to a character who sounds very much like Richard Mace.
Peter Davison gives a solid performance, but he's sounding old (either that or he had a bit of a cold that day). Mark Strickson didn't sound anything like the Turlough I remember. He's far too nice and helpful in this story.
Production of this story has been made to emulate the television show as closely as possible, with 4 x 25 minute episodes, cliffhangers and visual effects (which are much better on audio!)
Overall; excellent, and I can't wait to see what Mark Gatiss come up with for the new TV show.
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VINE VOICEon 11 December 2009
This story is by no means my favourite, but it comes pretty close. There is only one way to describe this story, I seriously believe it is impossible not to enjoy this story. Everything in this production comes across well and there are no glitches at all or anything else that comes across bad. Davison and Strickson go on to show what we already knew from Planet of Fire, that they could have been one of the shows best double acts if things had turned out differently. Turlough manages to bring an edge to this story that no other companion could. The Doctor is just pure fantastic in this, forget about Davison saying he had trouble recapturing The Doctor, he is perfect here. Other things to look out for are a few great killer one liners, Jasper Jeake, great twists and fantastic cliff hangers.
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on 20 October 2013
I'm currently on a mission to listen to all of the Big Finish audio plays, and my journey has brought me to the second story in the monthly series, Phantasmagoria.

This story, set in 1703 is a little hard to follow, with a lot of the cast and characters speaking in olde English making you concentrate even more on the dialogue then you usually would have to. The first two episodes are very slow but it does pick up slightly in the second half.

On the cast, I'd say Peter Davison was on top form as The Doctor but Mark Strickson was unrecognisable and flat as Turlough. The eagle eared listeners out there will recognise David Walliams lending his brilliant voice talents to two of the characters (Flowers and Cotton).

Overall, it's worth a listen. If I wasn't so anal about listening to every audio play in order I probably would have skipped this one if I'd already heard it.
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on 16 April 2009
First I have to take issue with M Wilberforce's dissing of The Unquiet Dead! A great story and no real fan (oooo controversial) could fail to see its strengths. Anyway, that done I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this story; I listened to it on tape first and as the second Big Finish audio drama it gets them off to a very strong start. It would be nice to see Mark Strickson (TV's Turlough) in more audio stories as he works well with The Fifth Doctor. The historical setting is great fun (we need more Eighteenth Century ones!) and the duplicitous characters that the time travellers meet make for a great story. Hard to get hold of but well worth it.
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on 16 April 2009
Despite listening to this on a creaky old cassette, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this story; as the second Big Finish audio drama it gets them off to a very strong start. It would be nice to see Mark Strickson (TV's Turlough) in more audio stories as he works well with The Fifth Doctor. The historical setting is great fun (we need more Eighteenth Century ones!) and the duplicitous characters that the time travellers meet make for a great story. Hard to get hold of (well you might still find it on CD) but well worth it.
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on 11 April 2006
"The TARDIS takes the Doctor and Turlough to the London of 1702 where a mysterious highwayman roams the streets, a local occultist has made contact with the dead and gentlemen of fashion are disappearing, only to find themselves in a chamber whose walls weep blood...
"The time-travellers become enmeshed in the hideous plans of Sir Nikolas Valentine, a gambler at the mysterious Diabola Club who always seems to have a winning hand..."
The second Big Finish Audio Adventure, and the first to feature Peter Davison in the leading role (aided by Mark Strickson as Turlough), gets the series off to a further strong start. Written by Mark Gatiss, the story borrows somewhat from both The Visitation and Ghost Light, but works out remarkably well and, I would say, is better than The Unquiet Dead, Gatiss' episode of the new TV series with Christopher Eccleston.
The story is populated by a variety of well-voiced characters, with particular credit going to David Ryall as the smooth and enigmatic Sir Nikolas Valentine and an unrecognisable turn by Gatiss himself as Jasper Jeake (the League of Gentlemen voice skills working in his favour there). Davison and Strickson are both immediately recognisable, although both are sounding older.
The story is well written and the cliff hangers reasonably done, although the first episode gets things off to a confusing start, with a wide range of unrelated characters introduced at an early stage (in the absense of visual information, telling these characters apart at first is tricky). The story soon warms up over episodes two and three, however, and comes to a good conclusion in episode four, by which time everything has pretty much fallen into place.
It's fun to hear the Fifth Doctor and Turlough once again. Both are also largely on character; Turlough is perhaps more pleasant and helpful than he was on the TV series, but still has that slight air of self-centredness that his character has always carried.
On the whole, a strong story that bodes well for the rest of the series.
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on 19 August 2009
Continuing my odyssey to listen to, and review, all of the BF audio's I moved onto number 2.
This I felt was an average and unspectacular, albeit engaging, adventure. The doctor does not really get involved integrally in the events until part 4 as events carry on about him with the Doctor stepping in late in the day to beat the baddie.
The plot also fell away as what began intriguingly became a humdrum plot regarding a nasty alien war criminal being pursued by other aliens wanting to bring him to justice (a plot done better (and more succinctly)in the McCoy story arc in Sirens of Time. Also, The Turlough here is unrecognisable from the TV series.
There is a good cliff hanger at the end of part 3, although even this is wasted in part 4 as it turns out not to be a threat at all but an ally.
An enjoyable,if lightweight, romp through an admittedly well realised historical setting.
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