23rd November 2013.
The 50th anniversary of 'Doctor Who' in 2013! What a year to remember!
I was forward to seeing a TV episode of 'Doctor Who' that celebrated the 50th anniversary featuring all the Doctors and the companions. I wanted a party atmosphere in the same vein as the 'The Five Doctors'
. Obviously that wasn't going to happen in the current TV series with Steven Moffat.
So therefore, Big Finish came up with 'The Light At The End', a superb multi-Doctor adventure to celebrate 50 years of the show's history, featuring the surviving classic doctors; the companions and the Master. I couldn't wait to hear this adventure. Shame Doctors 9, 10 and 11 couldn't appear in it.
This is a 5-disc set limited edition, with the story on the first two discs, Disc 3 containing a 'making-of' documentary; Disc 4, a 'Big Finish' documentary' and Disc 5, a companion chronicle called 'The Revenants'.
DISC 1 & 2 - THE LIGHT AT THE END
I listened to this story in the car with my parents when we went on a family weekend to Chichester. It was a day before the 23rd November 2013, in the lead up to the 50th anniversary.
'The Light At The End' is a story about the first eight Doctors experiencing a crisis as the life of Bob Dovie gets ripped apart on the 23rd November 1963. The Doctors and their companions must stop this crisis before their existence is at risk as the Master is somehow involved.
I was very pleased that Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann appeared as the main Doctors. I was extremely pleased that Louise Jameson, Sarah Sutton, Nicola Bryant, Sophie Aldred and India Fisher appeared as the main companions.
I enjoyed listening to this story and being thrilled by the 50th anniversary theme music. This is a better anniversary story to celebrate the show's history compared to 'The Day of the Doctor'
This is a two-part adventure running 100 minutes approx. It was written and directed by Nicholas Briggs, who I'm very pleased Nick Briggs said 'yes' to doing this multi-Doctor anniversary special.
This story was released in 3 versions - a standard edition; a limited edition and a vinyl edition. I bought the limited Edition since it had more features and I didn't have a vinyl record player.
So far, I've had my limited edition signed by Nick Briggs; Colin Baker; Sylvester McCoy; Louise Jameson; Sarah Sutton; Sophie Aldred; John Dorney and Tim Treloar.
The limited edition is presented as a lavish booklet containing CIA Time Lords report about the story and amazing group photos of the Doctors and companions inside. Colin, Sylvester, Louise, Sarah and Sophie have signed the group photos inside the booklet for me which I'm happy about.
The story starts with the Eighth Doctor and Charley (Paul McGann and India Fisher). Hearing Paul and India as the Doctor and Charley was superb and it feels right they should be together since the Eighth Doctor adventures in Big Finish featured Charley from the start.
The Eighth Doctor and Charley discover the mystery first in connection with Earth, 1963. But they end up on a war-like landscape with strange flower-like creatures and funny robots. They soon bump into the Fourth Doctor and Leela who share the adventure with them.
I was pleased that Tom Baker wanted to do a multi-Doctor adventure as the Fourth Doctor, making up for his absence in previous anniversary specials. It was great to hear him joined by his companion Leela (Louise Jameson) who's equally fiery in this adventure.
The Fourth Doctor and Leela make their appearance when Charley appears in their TARDIS. I like Charley's first meeting with them and Leela saying 'Charlotte' is a strong name'. I also like the Fourth and Eighth Doctors working together as it sounds so unreal and amazing.
The Fifth Doctor and Nyssa (Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton) are my favourite part of the story, for obvious reasons. It's really good that Sarah is part of the 50th anniversary through Big Finish since she (and other classic companions) wasn't going to get a look in in the actual anniversary special.
The adventure with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa is pivotal, as they solve a mystery with Bob Dovie at his house in 1963. I like it when Nyssa gets to be a 'police sergeant' by the Doctor. They discover the dolls' house and see Bob Dovie's wife and kids inside, realising it's the Master's work.
I was a joy to hear the Sixth Doctor and Peri (Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant) together. Colin is unfortunate as he didn't get his 10-year in the TV series, but has done plenty of audios with the Doctor. So it's great to hear him take part in Big Finish's anniversary special with Peri beside him.
I like it when Colin's Doctor gets to save the day when discovering the Time Lords and bringing all the Doctors together. I also like it when the Sixth Doctor and Peri meet up with the Seventh Doctor and Ace and the two Doctors and companions work together as a team.
The Seventh Doctor and Ace (Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred) are great together in this adventure. Sylvester and Sophie have had more adventures as the Doctor and Ace through Big Finish and it's great they get to celebrate that in this anniversary special.
I like it when they're searching around a walled area and Ace uses her Nitro-9 again which was exciting to listen to. Things get tense when Ace (and the other companions) gets erased and the Seventh Doctor gets into the TARDIS receiving contact from the first three Doctors.
Surprisingly, the first three Doctors make an appearance in this anniversary special. The First Doctor is voiced by William Russell and the Second Doctor by Frazer Hines, who have both done interpretations of their Doctors in 'The Lost Stories'. The Third Doctor is voiced by Tim Treloar.
Geoffrey Beavers delivers a superb performance as Master, the villain of this adventure. This is the decayed Master between 'The Deadly Assassin'
and 'The Keeper of Traken'
. I got a chill went down my spine when Nyssa discovering it's Master before he came to Traken.
John Dorney plays Bob Dovie in this adventure, and I'm sure he's very pleased to be part of the 50th anniversary of 'Doctor Who' through Big Finish. Bob is the catalyst of this crisis with the Doctors and says something significant about something which to him 'is just impossible'.
There are lots of cameos from companions including Carole Ann Ford, William Russell; Maureen O'Brien; Peter Purves; Jean Marsh; Anneke Wills; Frazer Hines; Wendy Padbury; Katy Manning; Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson. These cameos appear as a sequence in the TARDIS with Charley.
I really enjoyed it when all the Doctors met up and worked together. Hearing Tom, Peter, Colin, Sylvester and Paul in the same scene was extraordinary. Also when Tom and Paul's Doctors distract the Master as Peter, Colin and Sylvester's Doctors sort out Bob Dovie was exciting.
I wish though that the companions had a bigger part to play in the story as they were erased by the Master. I would have liked Leela, Nyssa, Peri, Ace and Charley interacting with each other and calming the Doctors down, but this is a minor complaint.
I enjoyed how the story ends with the eight Doctors, having solved the crisis, going to see Bob Dovie at his house to check he's alright. Bob Dovie is really rattled by the point the Eighth Doctor and Charley as he and his family are trying to get some sleep.
'The Light At The End' is a fantastic audio adventure to celebrate 50 years of 'Doctor Who' and I'm very pleased I listened to it in the car with my parents to Chichester. It features everything I love about the classic series of 'Doctor Who' including my favourite Doctors and companions.
The next story for the Eighth Doctor and Charley is 'Invaders from Mars'
DISC 3 - THE MAKING OF THE LIGHT AT THE END
I enjoyed listening to the making-of documentary on Disc 3 of this limited edition of 'The Light At The End' as it features plenty of interviews of classic 'Doctor Who' stars.
This documentary looks into how writer/director Nick Briggs and producer David Richardson came up with this multi-Doctor story for the 50th anniversary and assembling a galaxy cast of stars.
As well as Nick Briggs and David Richardson, there are interviews with the Doctors and companions. It's a shame not everyone worked together in the same room as some worked separately.
The Doctors interviewed include Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann. I enjoyed hearing the comments made by the actors especially when they talk about anniversary postage stamps and Sylvester mentioning playing Radagast the Brown in 'The Hobbit'.
I delighted to hear the companions interviewed including Louise Jameson, Sarah Sutton, Nicola Bryant, Sophie Aldred and India Fisher. I like how they mention reflecting on their time in the TV series and being grateful to Big Finish to still be carrying on in 'Doctor Who'.
I met Sarah, Louise, Sophie and Colin in Fareham before Christmas 2014 when they signed the CD booklet for me. I chatted to them about the 50th anniversary in general and 'The Day of the Doctor'.
The documentary also interviews William Russell; Frazer Hines; Carole Ann Ford; Anneke Wills and Tim Treloar who played the earlier Doctors and companions. There's also Geoffrey Beevers; John Dorney; Oliver Hume (who played Straxus) and composer/sound designer Jamie Robertson.
DISC 4 - THIS IS BIG FINISH
This is another good documentary with Big Finish on Disc 4 that celebrates 'Doctor Who's 50th anniversary by looking into the achievements Big Finish in 2013 and beyond.
Nick Briggs and David Richardson get interviewed as well as interviews with the classic Doctors; companions and many more who have shared in the success of Big Finish.
The Doctors include Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann interviewed in this documentary. I like how they reflect on their time in the TV series and how Big Finish has made an impact on their lives by carrying on 'Doctor Who' for them.
Many companions get interviewed including William Russell; Carole Ann Ford; Anneke Wills; Frazer Hines; Louise Jameson, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding; Nicola Bryant, Sophie Aldred and India Fisher. Equally they reflect on their involvement in 'Doctor Who' and their delight with Big Finish.
I enjoyed listening Sarah's comments about Nyssa having an extended history in Big Finish compared to the TV series. I also enjoyed Sophie mentioning using 'a baseball bat' to beat up a Dalek; and the complications of Sylvester working on 'The Hobbit' and 'Doctor Who' at the same time.
The documentary also looks into the successes of many Big Finish audios including the Klein stories; the spin-offs such as 'Jago and Litefoot', 'Counter-Measures' and 'Vienna'; and mentioning the upcoming box sets such as 'Philip Hinchcliffe Presents'
and 'The Fifth Doctor Box Set'
There are interviews with Tracey Childs (Elizabeth Klien); Geoffrey Beevers (the Master); Terry Molloy (Davros); producer Phillip Hinchcliffe of the Tom Baker era and script editor Alan Barnes.
DISC 5 - THE REVENANTS
This is a bonus companion chronicle adventure featured on Disc 5.
I listened to this story on the way back home from my family weekend in Chichester. It was really nice listening to it after enjoyed the previous 50th anniversary celebrations of 'Doctor Who'.
This story was originally released with an issue of 'Doctor Who Magazine' in 2012. Now fans can enjoy it with this limited edition of 'The Light At The End.'
This is a First Doctor companion chronicle by Ian Potter starring William Russell as Ian. It features the First Doctor with Ian and Barbara and is set right after 'The Dalek Invasion Of Earth'
. It feels right that this bonus adventure should be included in a 50th anniversary collector's edition as this.
'The Revenants' is a story about an older Ian returning to the Orkney Islands in Scotland in 2012. He meets a girl called Jeannie and tells her about an adventure he had with the Doctor and Barbara. He recalls and tells his adventure set in 1956 all those years ago.
This was a somewhat relaxing and entertaining experience. I wouldn't rate it highly as a 'Doctor Who' story but it's not bad. The action and pace seems slow in places, but I enjoyed the murky atmosphere of the Orkney Islands described by Ian and felt the marshy lands under my feet.
William Russell performs really well as Ian as well as the Doctor and Barbara. I like Ian's sense of nostalgia when he reflects back on his adventure in 1956. I also like Ian's relationship with Barbara, especially that moment when they consider staying and living seven years before getting to 1963.
I enjoyed William's interpretation of the First Doctor. It's not as good as Peter Purves' version, but the crotchety nature of the character is still there. I like that moment when it turns out the Wissfornjarl happens to be the Doctor at the end of Episode One.
Lots of references are made to previous adventure with the Doctor, Ian and Barbara. Most particularly is reference made to Susan's departure in 'The Dalek Invasion of Earth' and the Doctor is still recovering missing his granddaughter after locking her out of the TARDIS.
William Russell is joined by Sharon Small who plays both Janet and Jeannie in this story. I like the Scottish tones of Sharon's voice and she plays both characters from two different time periods extremely well balancing her voice and performances in each one.
Jeannie is someone who meets an older Ian and becomes intrigued by this adventure he had in 1956. Janet is a character the Doctor, Ian and Barbara meet in 1956 who is a witch and she believes the Doctor to be the Wissfornjarl and knows something about the strange Marsh-Wraiths.
I did find the Marsh-Wraiths slightly disappointing. It's not the sound design was terrible, but for me they weren't realised enough and didn't seem to have a huge impact of the story. I did like the Doctor's confrontation towards them in the second episode of the story.
'The Revenants' has been an enjoyable story to listen to. It's a nice bonus adventure to add to the 50th anniversary celebrations. I wouldn't consider it the greatest story I've listened to, but I enjoyed hearing William Russell as Ian narrating an adventure he had with the Doctor all those years ago.
The next story for the First Doctor, Ian and Barbara is 'The Rescue'
This is a superb collector's edition from Big Finish that is worthy to celebrate 50 years of 'Doctor Who'. This and 'The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot'
are, for me, the best anniversary specials for 'Doctor Who's 50th. I highly recommend 'The Light At The End' to anyone that loves this show as I do.