The novel of Love and War was published in 1992, written by Paul Cornell. The novel was one of the New Adventures published by Virgin after the cancellation of the original tv series in 1989 and continued the incarnation of the Seventh Doctor (as played by Sylvester McCoy) and his companion Ace (as played by Sophie Aldred). This adaptation of the novel was done by Jacqueline Rayner, and has a full cast in the audio adventure now released by Big Finish.
Because the story was originally one of the New Adventures from now over twenty years ago, the Doctor and Ace portrayed in the story are not those that are now more familiar to us from the Big Finish audio stories. Rather, the Doctor is in his manipulator, game-player persona familiar to us from the late Seventh Doctor tv stories, where he is darker and more mysterious. And Ace is young; young enough to still know her original name was Dorothy McShane, and to have issues with her mother; young enough to fall in love immediately and with her whole heart; and young enough to have just buried her best friend on Earth, in Perivale.
Leaving Perivale, the Doctor and Ace find themselves on Heaven, a planet where the Doctor wants to find a book. Heaven is a planet made to suit those who want to rest in/on Heaven, where bodies from across the galaxy are shipped to their final resting place. And a planet where Bernice Summerfield, a professor of archaeology, is studying the ancient civilisation which once lived on Heaven.
This is a great story; I remember reading it all those years ago, and wondering about a universe where the Doctor and Ace were so far removed from those tv stories that, up until then, were all we had to go by for the Doctor’s worldview. And it is great to hear that story now adapated to a full cast audio drama. The cast are wonderfully placed; Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred don’t sound a day older or different; Lisa Bowerman brings Bennie to life absolutely perfectly. And the other characters are perfect. Maggie Ollerenshaw as Audrey McShane, Ace’s mother, brings a tear to your eye. This is a real winner. If you’re worried that it doesn’t fit in with the other Big Finish audio adventures that have so far been produced with the Seventh Doctor and Ace, don’t let that stop you from getting this, and thoroughly enjoying it. Because I promise you will.
During the `lost years' of Doctor Who following the TV show's cancellation at the end of the Eighties, various fans kept the flame alive, chiefly through Virgin's New Doctor Who Adventures that continued to be published for some six or so years and are credited with paving the way for the series' current return to the forefront of the BBC's drama output. Paul Cornell was one of the prime movers, responding to a request for original Doctor Who novels and producing this imaginative tale; arguably one of the best in the New Adventures range. The audio CD adaptation is a real treat - Big Finish have a real knack for taking existing stories and imbuing them with new life whilst retaining the essence of the source novelization, and with McCoy and Aldred recapturing the spirits (and voices) of their younger selves perfectly, and Lisa Bowerman returning to voice Benny Summerfield, this is a superb audio drama from start to finish.
It has been an impossibly long time since the novel of Love and War was released, and this full cast audio drama captures much of the atmosphere of the book. Sylvester McCoy is superb, and despite the writing of Ace being at times somewhat out of character Sophie Aldred brings a great emotional credibility to the whole project. For fans of the New Adventure books, or who enjoy hearing Sylvester McCoy on top form, this is an audio treat.