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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable debut of a new audio companion, 11 April 2006
By 
M. Wilberforce "mwilberforce" (Bristol, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Marian Conspiracy (Doctor Who) (Audio CD)
"Tracking a nexus point in time, the Doctor meets Dr Evelyn Smythe, a history lecturer whose own history seems to be rapidly vanishing.
"The Doctor must travel back to Tudor times to stabilise the nexus and save Evelyn's life. But there he meets the Queen of England - and must use all his skills of diplomacy to avoid ending up on the headman's block."
Big Finish's second Sixth Doctor audio adventure distances itself somewhat from the TV series, with a brand new companion in Evelyn Smythe and a less cantankerous version of Colin Baker's character. The Marian Conspiracy, written by Jacqueline Rayner, is the Big Finish series' first true Hartnell-style historical, with a bare minimum of sci-fi being used as the premise for the Doctor and Evelyn to get into trouble in Tudor England, here under the rein of the fanatical Catholic Queen Mary (in a sound reading by Anah Ruddin).
Maggie Stables' Evelyn Smythe is completely different from any of the Doctor's previous companions: at fifty-five, Evelyn is a middle-aged busybody whose ability to witter on and willpower is a match for even the Doctor himself. Evelyn is able to cope with anything events throw at her, apart of course from her near encounters with oblivion as her history begins to unravel. She is an entertaining character that could equally become tiresome; I will be interested to see what path Big Finish take with her in future stories.
The story of The Marian Conspiracy is simple but entertaining. An able cast play the supporting characters with no particular standouts but good performances all round. As mentioned, Colin Baker's Doctor has mellowed, but he still has many of the mannerisms familiar from the TV series. The Doctor spends rather a lot of the story attending the Queen, but the interplay between them is well-written as the Doctor attempts to convince her highness to reconsider her hard-line stance on Protestants. Evelyn, meanwhile, a great supporter of Elizabeth I, does a good job of nearly getting her head cut off and then falling in with the Protestant rebels. The rebels themselves are very human characters, and neither side of the theological divide is presented as having bad motives. That honour is reserved for the self-serving Frenchman François de Noailles, played by Barnaby Edwards (who also appeared, with a different accent, in Storm Warning).
Overall, The Marian Conspiracy is a successful attempt at a historical story from Big Finish.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars start of a beautiful friendship, 21 July 2006
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Marian Conspiracy (Doctor Who) (Audio CD)
The continuing redemption of the sixth doctor into a character who works well gets a great step forward here with the debut of his companion evelyn smythe, middle aged history professor. Superbly played by the redoubtable maggie stables, she and colin baker form a wonderful partnership.

An interesting plot takes them to the days of queen mary, and provides us with some fascinating history. There are science fictional aspects that don't really go anywhere, but the historical element gives us strong and well acted characters, and makes this an excellent listen
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A right royal mix-up, 15 April 2009
This review is from: The Marian Conspiracy (Doctor Who) (Audio CD)
This is the one where the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) meets future companion, eccentric History lecturer Evelyn Smythe. I have to admit I am not Smythe's biggest fan but this story is great Doctor Who; Evelyn's family tree and thereby her ancestors are being erased (literally) and soon the popular if controversial academic will have ceased to exist. To rectify this The pair travel back to Elizabethan England, giving Smythe the opportunity to discourse on the merits of Elizabeth as opposed to Mary and leading to her ignoring The Doctor's instruction to 'stay in the TARDIS' and consequently being accused of treason...

Smythe's smugness and determination to interfere instantly got up my nose but I have to admit that as a companion she fits the Sixth Doctor well. He clearly grows fond of her very quickly and she is far more intelligent than the vacuous Peri or one-dimensional Mel. The story is an effective historical adventure; done well these is Big Finish's best type of story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great start to the dynamic duo - the Doctor and Evelyn, 2 Jun 2012
By 
Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Marian Conspiracy (Doctor Who) (Audio CD)
I thoroughly enjoyed this, the first story with Evelyn Smythe as the Doctor's ... companion? I'm not sure she'd put up with being referred to as that - she's a great character. I have heard several of the later stories with Evelyn and have gone back to the earlier stories, because I have enjoyed the development of her character, and the wonderful way in which the character is portrayed by Maggie Stables.

The Sixth Doctor, brash as usual, really seems as if he has may have met his match in Evelyn - she certainly gives him a run for his money and keeps him in line. But they get on well, and that's evident right from the start of this first story. The Doctor gets in trouble in Evelyn's history lecture for making a noise, and when his search for a dangerous time nexus seems to lead directly to Evelyn herself, well ... she packs her cocoa and her toothbrush and insists on going with him to sort it out.

The story is a timely reminder of the threats when travelling in Earth's history - what seems obvious to us (or to Evelyn as a history professor) is not so obvious when you're actually in Tudor times - the troubles of Queen Mary Tudor are handled empathetically and with compassion ... she is never demonised in this story, and I found that refreshing. The Frenchman de Noaille is Gallicly fiendish, and the Protestants and the Catholics are suitably entrenched - but the Doctor and Evelyn manage to find their way around Tudor England and leave things, perhaps, better than they were before. But it's sad to see that the insecurities of Queen Mary have, by the end of the story, been magnified into complete paranoia - a forerunner of her tragic legacy coming to its time.

Whiel a serious story, there are glimmers of humour, and it's all handled very well. A great story, and a great start to a partnership with the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn - looking forward to hearing even more stories from this duo.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ole Sixey Has A New Companion, 19 Jun 2014
By 
Timelord-007 (The Eccentric Wanderer) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Marian Conspiracy (Doctor Who) (Audio CD)
The Marian Conspiracy.
Doctor: Sixth Doctor.
Companion Dr. Evelyn Smythe.
Main enemy: Queen Mary I, Reverend Thomas Smith, Francois de Noailles.
Main setting: Sheffield, 2000, London, January 1555.
Writer: Jacqueline Rayner.
Director: Gary Russell.
Producer: Jason Haigh-Ellery, Gary Russell.
Format: 4 Episodes on 2 CDs.
Running time 120 minutes.

Cast.
The Doctor - Colin Baker.
Dr. Evelyn Smythe - Maggie Stables.
Reverend Thomas Smith - Nicholas Pegg.
The Queen - Anah Ruddin.
Lady Sarah - Jo Castleton.
Francois de Noailles - Barnaby Edwards.
George Crow - Sean Jackson.
John Wilson - Gary Russell.
William Leaf - Jez Fielder.
Royal Guard - Alistair Lock.

Trivia.
1)The Doctor once again uses his well worn alias, Dr John Smith, to gain access to the Queen's inner circle.
2)The Doctor does some serious name dropping during this story, mentioning meetings with Socrates, Sir Francis Drake, Henry VIII, Lady Jane Grey (whom he met in the Tower of London), William Cecil & Queen Elizabeth I.
3)Evelyn was once married, but left her husband after a row about her attendance at an academic conference on the day of their anniversary, Her specialty is Tudor political history, She can pick locks with a hairpin after years of dealing with students who have locked themselves out of their rooms & she has a pathological love of cocoa & cakes.
4)The Sixth Doctor previously visited 16th century London at least twice, both times in the company of Peri Brown. (Audio: Point of Entry, Audio: Recorded Time)
5)Queen Mary refers to her late stepmother, Anne Boleyn, the mother of her younger half-sister Elizabeth, as a "harlot." 6)Earlier in his personal timeline, the Doctor and Peri met Boleyn on 4 May 1536, shortly before her execution. (Audio: Recorded Time).
7)The Doctor and Evelyn would eventually visit Queen Elizabeth's court at some point before she departed the TARDIS. (Audio: Thicker than Water) Later in his personal timeline, the Doctor met her on at least three further occasions. (Audio: Terror Firma, Tv: The Shakespeare Code, Tv: The End of Time).

Plot Synopsis.
Tracking a nexus point in time, the Sixth Doctor meets Dr Evelyn Smythe, a history lecturer whose own history seems to be rapidly disappearing from time itself.

The Doctor along with Evelyn must travel back to Tudor times to stabilise the nexus & try to save Evelyn's life. But there he meets the Queen Mary & must use all his skills of diplomacy to avoid ending up on the headman's block...

Timelord Thoughts.
Colin Baker as Doctor Who was unfairly deemed unpopular on tv for his brash temperamental awkward interpretation of the Timelord who was the only actor to be fired from playing the Doctor by the powers that be at the BBC.

So one could assume the actor to be quite reluctant to reprise the role of the Sixth Doctor however this is not the case as Colin Baker really comes into his own with the audios as he completely re-establishes the sixth Doctor’s character dialling down the over the top egotistical brash antics of his tv incarnation to a more calmer warmer good humoured Sixth Doctor which is a credit to actor Colin Baker who wanted over time to mellow his incarnation of the Doctor on tv over the many years he intended to play the part, alas it wasn't to be but here Colin Baker has had another bite at the cherry but this time he delivers a excellent engaging passionate performance.

Maggie Stables who plays history lecturer Evelyn Smythe have an instant rapport sharing great chemistry straight away with the Doctor whom has met his match with Evelyn who is a no nonsense slightly older character who is very opinionated enjoys history & has a certain charm to her character making Evelyn instantly likeable who initially thinks the Doctor is something of a lunatic but by the end of the adventure Evelyn appeals to the Doctor’s better nature as a mutual respect develops as she joins him on his travels through time & space as his new companion.

Jacqueline Raynors script delivers a tightly plotted story with well written character's great dialogue (some of the Doctor's speeches & scenes with Queen Mary are amazing) added together with a mix of the strange and familiar writer Jacqueline Raynor hits all the beats to deliver a great entertaining enjoyable audio adventure.

Overall The Marian Conspiracy is a breath of fresh air reinvigorating the historical genre that promises great things for this Tardis team.

Timelord Rating.
8/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Marian Conspiracy - Six starts out in a new direction, 29 Feb 2012
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Marian Conspiracy (Doctor Who) (Audio CD)
This is the sixth release from Big Finish in their range of audio only adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Colin Baker as Six and introduces Maggie Stables as a new `created for audio' companion Dr. Evelyn Smythe. 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.

The Doctor is on the track of a nexus point in time that might wipe out the earth. The nexus point turns out to be historian Evelyn Smythe, and they must go back to the time of Bloody Mary to sort out the timeline. It's a cracking story, a good old fashioned Doctor Who historical, with a little sci fi twist in the tale.

Evelyn is a great companion for the Doctor. Older and wiser than most companions, she is capable of withstanding Six's bombast, and imposing her will over him at times. The fact that she can stand up to him seems to be the basis for a great friendship, and there is quite a chemistry between Baker and Stables. Baker also uses the opportunity of working with a new companion to change the Doctor's character subtly from his TV personifaction of 6. He tones down the arrogance a little and allows Six's basic compassion to shine through, making some scenes with Mary quite touching. It's a cracking story, and paves the way for a more likeable Six and a great new companion, so 5 stars from me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Couple, 21 Oct 2013
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This review is from: The Marian Conspiracy (Doctor Who) (Audio CD)
I wasn't expecting to enjoy this one because I wasn't sure what it'd be like to have a brand new companion who we'd never seen on TV, but it totally works. Evelyn and the 6th Doctor are a perfect match for each other and I can't help but think if they were seen on the TV series in the 80s, the 6th Doctors fortunes would have changed slightly.

You can hear that Big Finish are really trying to change the 6th Doctor and I must say it's working. I loved the historical back-drop of the episode as well with 'Bloody Mary' as one of the main characters. It made me do a bit of research into her rein and her feud with her half-sister Elisabeth.

I really enjoyed this audio and would really recommend it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tudor Doctor, 30 May 2010
By 
N. KEMPTON "ladykempton" (uk london) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Marian Conspiracy (Doctor Who) (Audio CD)
I really liked this story I thought that the idea that maybe Evlin was the Doctors decendent was great also I liked how the Doctor tried to in a small way try and convince Queen Mary that burning people was wrong and that she her self had done what the prosteants were doing at that moment to me it made her seem like a hypocrict but one thing that I don't understand and that is the story is great but it never explain's what caused Evlins time line to change in the first place but other then that little detail great story look forward to more of the same.
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The Marian Conspiracy (Doctor Who)
The Marian Conspiracy (Doctor Who) by Jacqueline Rayner (Audio CD - 30 Mar 2000)
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