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This is the 170th story in the Big Finish Main Range, and is the second in a series of three stories which re-introduces the character of Melanie Bush, the companion first seen with the Sixth Doctor in the tv series when she appears in a story (Terror of the Vervoids) brought by the Valeyard in evidence against the Doctor at the Doctor’s Trial (Trial of a Time Lord).

Mel and the Doctor are travelling in the Tardis, Mel bemoaning the fact that the Tardis has no windows, and they can’t enjoy the journey as well as getting to where they are going. Materialising, they find themselves at Tantane Spaceport; but the Doctor is surprised to find that there are no other people, nor spaceships there. Meanwhile, Naysmith is undergoing her initiation into Economy under the auspices of Elder Bones. When Naysmith meets the Doctor and Mel, she finds her initiation taking a strange turn. Why are Business and Economy so at odds in the abandoned Spaceport? And what is the Wailer?

This is a great story. The Doctor and Mel find themselves in an enclosed space, with no view of outside. But it is a huge enclosed space in which they are trapped, and there are other people trapped in there with them, but apart from them. The communities of Business and Economy live separate from each other and from the outside world. The story starts from a very small and insular viewpoint and expands outwards as the Doctor and Mel shake up the world that has been Tantane Spaceport for over four hundred years, and both the Doctor and Mel’s characters are well utilised in the story, as well as very well written for their parts. The Doctor has that rather brusque mannerism of his earlier incarnation, and Mel is both loyal and slightly exasperated with his rudeness at times. Both characters are strong in their own right, and interact well with the other characters at Tantane that they meet. Those other characters are all also well written, and Iabel Fay as Naysmith, Gwilym Lee as Pretty Swanson, Beth Chalmers as both Galpan and Beauty Swanson, and Adrian MacKinder as Rogers do a great job. I think John Banks does a fantastic job in his parts, showing a brilliant virtuosity in his voice acting. And Ronald Pickup is, of course absolutely brilliant as Elder Bones, showing a depth of character through just his intonation of voice that is worthy of such a superb and experienced actor. A brilliant story, and definitely recommended.
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A new Doctor Who audio story. Second a in a run of three that feature Colin Baker as the Doctor and Bonnie Langford as his companion Mel.

This story, despite being in the middle of a trilogy, stands pretty much entirely on it's own. And casual listeners would be able to get into it quite easily without having heard any other story.

It runs for four parts of thirty minutes each in length [approx] and is spread over two cd's.

The story is set in a spaceport called Tantane. Where two tribes of people - economy and business - have been at war for years. Where terrible stories are told about a creature called the Wailer that wanders the corridors and eats people.

Where people wait for the summer to come.

And where the TARDIS has just arrived. The Doctor and Mel are about to discover the hidden secrets of a place that nobody ever leaves....

It's obvious right from the start that this is a devolved culture story - one where the residents of a place have been there so long they've forgotten and misinterpreted what a lot of things mean. Things that are obvious to the listener. And the Doctor. All the set up of this in part one is very intriguing and a good listen. The cast are excellent, particularly veteran character Ronald Pickup [whose very first acting job was on the Doctor Who tv story 'The Reign of Terror' back in the 1960's]. There are some fun lines of pop culture references that firmly date Mel as a child of the 1980's. And she has a nice relationship with the Doctor, who is very much the calmer version of the audios rather than the abrasive one of his tv era.

There's really good sound design which makes you feel as if you're in a large, quiet and almost deserted building.

Plus an excellent cliffhanger.

The next three parts don't quite live up to the first, though. The big revelations you might expect never quite arrive. A lot the next two episodes are people walking around corridors talking. There are some very good character arcs and all those involved do develop and change over the course of the story, something that the actors really respond to, but it never quite delivers really big shocks or memorable plot developments.

This is a very capable release and production, though. The amount of character drama does mean repeat listens would deliver something new each time. Although each episode does feel just a couple of minutes too long.

Not the best story in the range. But a very good production with a lot of good points. And it is worth a listen.

There's five minutes worth of the music from the story on the final track of disc one.

A trailer for the next in this range on the track after the end of part two on disc two.

And just over fourteen minutes of interviews with cast and crew on the final two tracks of that disc.
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This is the hundred and seventieth release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Colin Baker and Bonnie Langford as Six and Mel. There are four episodes, roughly 30 minutes each, complete with cliffhangers and original theme music between each. Two episodes per disc on 2 discs, and a short booklet with some pictures of the cast and production notes. There are some interviews with cast and crew at the end of the second disc and a few minutes of the soundtrack at the end of disc 1.

This is the second of three releases in a row to feature the Sixth Doctor and Mel. And I have to say that I am rater enjoying them. Mel first appeared alongside Six on TV with Trial of a Timelord, but spent most of her time alongside Sylvester McCoy. On audio she has appeared alongside both Six and Seven in stories that have developed her as a character and repaired her reputation as an annoying companion. Her most memorable audio adventures have been alongside the Sixth Doctor, and this is definitely one of them.

Following from the mould breaking loopiness of ‘The Wrong Doctors’, this story features Mel and Six in the most traditional Dr Who setting of all, the enclosed, cut off space colony. This time it is an old spaceport, in which the inhabitants, descended from stranded passengers, have evolved into a rather interesting society.

The first episode is an incredibly atmospheric scene setter, then what follows is a rip-roaringly good adventure as the Doctor and his friends run around various corridors trying to understand just what is going on and how to resolve the situation. It has a light-hearted tone, gently poking fun at the running up and down corridors aspect of so many Who stories, with ideas borrowed from the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Dungeons and Dragons, while also giving a wink to modern video game culture. But all the time there is a serious message behind it all, and despite the humour and the knowingness there is a good solid heart to the story which holds it all together.

Bonnie Langford and Colin Baker are superb here, with an easy going relationship that allows them to work well off each other to provide a really entertaining story. And in contrast there is Ronald Pickup in a somewhat creepy role, who pretty much manages to steal the piece. And stealing a scene from Colin Baker is no mean feat!

This is a delightful and memorable listen, 5 stars.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 October 2016
Delayed departures, no way out, limited resources and something unpleasant in the corridors. We’ve all been stuck at an airport like that for an hour or two – but what if the delay went on for five hundred years…? 4* (4 episodes, 2 CDs, 121 minutes + extras)

‘Spaceport Fear’ by William Gallagher is a traditional ‘Doctor Who’ story in many ways and fans will find ourselves right at home. A vast, almost empty spaceport, two warring ‘tribes’ descended from former passengers – Business and Economy, a monstrous creature wailing through miles of darkened corridors, no escape and time running out…

That might have become a rather familiar story, but it isn’t, because the basic framework supports excellent character writing full of quips and one-liners and a creepy atmosphere, mixed with a determination to keep things light. And that’s more than can be said for the spaceport computer, which is determined to keep things dark…

The first two episodes especially are a classic ‘haunted house’ mystery of empty halls, shifting walls, failing lights and even a ‘ghost’ – the Wailer, definitely living up to its name as a ‘presence’ never quite seen but getting too close for comfort. Unfortunately for those trapped with it, the Wailer is all too real and substantial… and hungry… The (literal) darkness of the early parts of this story comes across very well, through both the script and Richard Fox and Lauren Yason’s sound design and music, making careful use of silence to reflect the dark emptiness of the spaceport. Listen at night with the lights out for full effect!

The script builds a good story and contrasts the darkness with a host of light touches, jokes at the expense of airports and the rigours of flying Economy, business jargon and business culture and Mel’s late ‘80s world. Episode 3 did seem to me to dip slightly and I didn’t feel a shocking moment at the start of the episode was carried through as it might have been – although that was in keeping with the style of the Sixth Doctor’s TV era, where stories tended to quickly move on from even the most tragic events.

Episode 4 ascends again as a host of new problems arrive and a couple of traditional ‘Doctor Who’ plot devices are put to good use, before the Doctor and Mel come to the rescue once more. I must say I wasn’t convinced by part of Mel’s solution; it was funny, especially given her skillset, but I don’t think it would actually have worked. Then there’s a nicely optimistic and ‘human’ ending, so job done again and another world saved.

This enjoyably traditional style is quite refreshing after the Time-shifting, mind-spinning brilliance of ‘The Wrong Doctors’, but there’s no link between the two adventures so you could listen to this one first. The Sixth Doctor and Mel are here just one adventure after the Doctor successfully resolved his TV Trial, so there are definite moments of the TV Sixth Doctor, all brilliance, bombast and banter.

Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor is terrific as usual with dialogue to match. Only this Doctor could converse face to face with a ravening, heavily-armed alien and still find time to make disparaging sideways comments about its lack of linguistic prowess!

It’s great to hear Bonnie Langford playing Mel in a script full of cleverness, computer skills and quick-thinking, without a scream to be heard. Mel and the Doctor enjoy a teasing friendship full of little jokes about his manners (or lack thereof!) and her taste for veggie diets and exercise, and although this story is set in the far future, the cultural nods are very much aimed towards present-day Earth.

The guest cast populate the story very well with Economy and good Business, especially Ronald Pickup as Elder Bones, respected statesman and unquestioned authority in the spaceport. His wonderful voice and performance give the character all the depth you’d expect – and possibly more…

This adventure is definitely one to check out. It doesn’t carry much complex baggage and the route to the final destination is quite straightforward, but the crew are very skilful, the in-flight entertainment is clever and witty, the companion and special guest are excellent and the Sixth Doctor is (as he says of himself here) ‘always First Class’. 4*

(Disc 1 has a 5 minute suite of the incidental music after the episodes and 14 minutes of documentary tracks follow the episodes on disc 2. The CD booklet has cast photos and interesting Director’s and Writer’s Notes.)
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on 14 April 2013
Colin Baker is superb as always and it was nice to see him paired with Mel.- she was good in this!
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on 13 July 2013
Big Finish boast they like to tell stories. This is a good story on paper but is it a good audio production? It starts off very well, but there is far too little here to sustain four episodes. Although nice ideas the weak cliffhangers are a big clue as to whether it is worth tuning in to the next episode. By the third episode I have really had enough and completely switched off by the fourth. There are not many Big Finish stories I do not complete, but this one just rambles and the moment I am not sure I will go back as some of the later vocal work is unappealing too.

One for completists only. First episode is 4-5 stars, then it loses a star each episode, hence the low average.

A waste of a 6th Dr and Mel story. After the excellent 1001 Nights where the production team gauged correctly the length for several stories, here we have one that should have been edited to two episodes maximum, allowing another 2 parter to follow it.

Stories about backward cultures have limited appeal in the first place, the 1987 television story Paradise Towers being a good example of how opinion is divided. They can be good in places and quite entertaining, but the overall product can be poor and one that does not represent the range very well.
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