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Latest Doctor Who companion chronicle. These are a range of talking books which see an actor who played a companion to the Doctor on tv return to their role to read an all new story for their character.

They do all the narration and the voices, save for one. Which is done by a guest actor.

They are usually two part stories complete on a single cd, with episodes of roughly thirty minutes each.

At this time each year, the companion chronicles do break the format slightly by bringing out a four part two cd story. Most of those have two narrators.

This story sees William Russell and Carole Ann Ford return to the roles of Ian and Susan, whom they played alongside William Hartnell's Doctor, right back in the early days of the show.

It's a four part story, and the episodes run from thirty to thirty three minutes each. [Approx].

It is in keeping with the style of it's era, because like a few tales from then, it's a purely historical one. With no science fiction elements at all.

At the start of the story, the TARDIS brings the four travellers to Spain. In the late sixteenth century. A country being subjected to the terror of the inquistion. And one at war with England. With invasion plans underway.

It's not a good place to be English. But Ian's innate sense of decency lands him in trouble and at the mercy of the inqusition. As his friends plan to rescue him and a man called Esteban whom Ian tried to save from danger, they are also well aware that Sir Francis Drake and his fleet are on the way to mount a raid. Ian idolises Drake. But there's an old adage: you should never meet your heroes...

The narration duties jump back and forth between William Russell and Carole Ann Ford. The initial changes are rather quick and you do take a moment to get used to that. But it quickly settles down. And the segments they narrate do become longer and longer. The first episode is rather scary. But not in the usual Doctor Who way of frightening alien monsters. The monsters here are humans. And the terrible things that fanatics will do.

The two narrators are very good at this and a pleaasure to listen to. The sound design and the very subtle incidental music do create a great sense of time and place.

But the fact that this is straight drama rather than the usual style of Doctor Who means that the second and third episodes aren't quite so gripping. Although they are subtly involving. There are just a couple of action set pieces in episode three that do grab.

The cliffhanger ending to part three is resolved in a delightfully unexpected way. But then everything does come together superbly for part four. Which features action, swordfights, some great character moments, and a splendid sense of being in the middle of history as it unfolds.

There's also one superb final plot development that you really won't see coming.

This is not the strongest story in this range - pure historicals aren't always to everyone's taste - but it is a splendid bit of drama that does try to do something a little different, and one which does recapture the style for which it is aiming. You might also learn a few things from it. It is well worth a listen.

There's a trailer for the next release in this range on the track right after the end of part four.

Plus just under ten minutes worth of the music from the story on the track after that.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 June 2016
Spain, 1587. King Philip II is preparing his ‘holy’ Catholic Armada to sail against the ‘heretic’ English and their Queen, while the vicious Inquisition crushes all dissent. From the north sails the fleet of the dreaded ‘El Draque’ – Sir Francis Drake, once more seeking Spanish prey.

It’s no time for aliens – English people or Time Lords - to be in Seville. With history and their country in the balance, what should two loyal subjects of Elizabeth do – even if *their* Queen Elizabeth won’t be born for centuries… and what should a Time Lord do to preserve the history he remembers…? 5* (4 episodes, 2 CDs, 121 minutes + extras)

Marc Platt has written an outstanding historical adventure for the original TARDIS crew; for me, it’s up there with the best of the classic series historicals. It’s so wonderfully authentic to their style and themes that it could almost be a genuine ‘lost story’ from Season One, though it sometimes depicts Spain under the Inquisition with more accuracy than would have been allowed on teatime television.

This is a double-length Companion Chronicle, allowing the action to unfold across four episodes to great effect. The format mixes drama with narration as William Russell and Carole Ann Ford return, brilliantly, to their original roles as Ian and Susan, narrate the action and perform all but one of the other characters.

Ian is separated from his friends for most of the audio, so the story divides naturally between his viewpoint and that of Susan, accompanying her grandfather and Barbara. Unlike the ‘Lost Stories’ or ‘Early Years’ First Doctor adventures where William Russell plays Ian and the Doctor, and Carole Ann Ford plays Barbara as well as Susan, the two actors perform *all* the roles in a scene (except for each other’s original character and one guest role), so occasionally William Russell is playing Barbara and Carole Ann Ford is quite often playing the Doctor.

This seems odd to begin with, for an audio where both actors are present, but it’s the usual style of the Companion Chronicles (normally with only one companion actor) and I soon got used to it. The quality and ambition of the script, the presence of both ‘Ian’ and ‘Susan’ and the superb music and sound design by Toby Hrycek-Robinson give this Companion Chronicle an epic feel on a scale closer to full-cast audio. It’s a great addition to the classic historicals, so if you enjoy those as I do, you’ll love this new entry in the genre.

The first two episodes are tense and confined by the narrow streets and close buildings of old Seville, poised on the brink of war against the ‘heretic’ English and repressed by the ever-watchful Inquisition. Our friends are usually so bold, exploring a strange alien world or immersing themselves in a new historical period, that this time I was struck by something unusual: their fear. When they discover where and when they are, the Doctor and Barbara (who know most about it) are immediately, deeply afraid and simply want to return to the Ship and leave… of course, it never does work out like that…!

An impulsive act of bravery lands Ian in the clutches of the Inquisition, along with Esteban, a local man who has fallen foul of the rapacious Church. Nabil Elouahabi is the excellent guest actor in this audio and brings something quite different to the story, as an unusual character who develops well over the four episodes. I won’t give spoilers but just say that historically he is very believable; Spain had many enemies and there really were many similar alliances, up to the highest level.

Naturally, the Doctor attempts to go to Ian’s rescue, mingling with powerful historical figures in a way which astonishes the kindly locals Miguel, Catalina and Lorenzo. It doesn’t surprise Susan or those of us who have seen ‘The Reign of Terror’ – but can the Doctor pull off the same part-comic trick again…? We’re beguiled into believing he can, through the Doctor’s humorous arrogance and courage, but the tension just keeps mounting and the cliff-hanger for Part Two and the start of Part Three are as dramatic as any scenes in ‘Doctor Who’.

When we get chance to draw breath, it’s a relief to escape from the threatening atmosphere of Seville as our friends take the road to Cadiz with Miguel and his wagon train, in a manner reminiscent of a mini-‘Marco Polo’. There are some delightful scenes on the road with the Doctor and a mule, and an impishly-clued reveal of a character that was very pleasing.

But the familiar dilemma of time travellers is surfacing again – Ian and Barbara have a very personal stake in this history – it’s *their* country that is under threat from Spain, can they stand idly by and not get involved? The Doctor is, as ever, keen to protect the established flow of history, whatever the cost, and argues bitterly with Barbara. But who is right? Meddling with History when you don’t know the full facts is very dangerous…

As the travellers near Cadiz, Ian is away on his own quest, driven partly by fate and partly by ego, to meet his boyhood hero – England’s greatest sailor of the age, Sir Francis Drake. This might seem a familiar idea (after we’ve seen the travellers run into Kublai Khan, Napoleon, etc.), but here it’s handled in a very original way. As much as a story about the meeting of Ian and Drake, it’s about the meeting of Ian’s expectations of his gallant ‘Hollywood’ hero with the reality of Drake, who terrified the Spanish so much that his name survived as a folk-devil long after the real man was dead.

We’re so used to seeing the original TARDIS crew barging, improbably, into the lives of leading historical figures and being accepted as ‘important’, that’s it’s the very realistic, *unimportant* reception that Ian gets from his hero that bursts the bubble as much as anything Drake actually does. But what should Ian (just a random stranger after all) have expected from a fleet commander on the eve of battle? Ian reacts with hurt pride and flips to despising everything about Drake, at least for a while.

But when push comes to shove, *our* hero shows his true spirit and Ian Chesterton is there to rescue history before a final showdown with one of the real villains of this tale. Then, as always, the TARDIS crew fade quietly into history themselves, ever-present at moments of crisis, yet always forgotten by the chroniclers – except…

This is a magnificent historical and most highly recommended to all fans of the genre. 5*

(Thanks for reading if you made it this far!)

(Unfortunately there are no documentary tracks with this release, but a 10 minute suite of the excellent music follows the episodes on disc 2 and the CD insert has interesting writer’s and producer’s notes.)

SLIGHT SPOILER NOTE:
Contrary to what Ian thinks, Drake did not just go after treasure while leaving his crews to go hungry; life at sea was very hard, but in the engagement in question, Drake recorded his capture of ships full of provisions. It’s (I think) a sign of how sour Ian feels about his ex-hero that, seeing the violence of Drake’s war-fighting, Ian says he would have stopped him if he could. This is impulsively moral, but nonsense of course; would anyone English really risk interfering with that history? Without events happening just as they did, the Armada would not have sailed when it did, to be defeated by the English fleet and (perfectly timed) weather so destructive to his ships that King Philip viewed it as (of course) the will of God.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 14 February 2016
This is one of the series of Companion Chronicles (the seventh story in the seventh series). These normally feature a past companion of one of the Doctor’s incarnations, narrating a story from their time with the Doctor, and performing the roles of most of the cast along the way, with usually one other actor playing a key role in the story. This story features main roles being performed and narrated by William Russell (Ian Chesterton) and Carole Ann Ford (Susan). The other guest actor is Nabil Alouahabi who plays the role of Esteban. The story was written by Marc Platt.

The Tardis has landed in Spain, and the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan are relishing a quiet walk about in the streets, when they suddenly realise the era they have landed in – Spain is in the grip of the Inquisition under King Philip II, and it’s a very dangerous place for strangers, especially those who may appear to be English, as Spain is at odds with England under the ‘heretic’ Queen Elizabeth I, and after the death of Mary, Queen of Scots. Ian leaps to the defence of a young man, and the Tardis crew find themselves separated by the very real, and very deadly threat of the Inquisition.

This Companion Chronicle is rather unusual, in that it takes place over four episodes on 2 cds. Most of the Companion Chronicle range are 2 episodes only, so this story has plenty of time to get a good head of steam, and even then it fairly races along. The story is really of two distinct parts, one relating to the Inquisition, and the other relating to the Spanish Armada, readying itself for its invasion of England. Into these tumultuous times, and dangerous events, the crew of the Tardis find themselves thrown with no warning, and little defence. The dangers of these times, and the situations in which the friends find themselves, are highly real, and I found some of the imagery in the scenes really shocking, when you think what it would really have been like. Of course, with a pure historical story such as this, that’s one of the ‘realities’ that are hammered home to the Tardis travellers; the real lives that were lived, not the historically cleansed times that they may have read about.

William Russell does a fantastic job here in his role as Ian Chesterton, and also in the other parts he plays, including the Doctor, and several more. Carole Ann Ford recreates perfectly her role as Susan, the young granddaughter of the Doctor, and performs Barbara and other roles as well. The other role, that of Esteban is performed wonderfully by Nabil Elouahabi. The 2-cd set is rounded off by a nice suite of incidental music.

There is tragedy in this story, greed, religious idealism, political machinations, and more, but throughout it runs a thread of humanity and relationships, and a gritty realism that makes the story hugely interesting, utterly enthralling and one that will be listened to again and again. Totally recommended.
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on 14 November 2015
Another first-rate historical adventure for the original TARDIS crew of Ian, Barbara, Susan & the First Doctor.
The incredible William Russell (now aged 90!) plays both Ian & the Doctor and makes them sound utterly different from each other.
Carole Ann Ford plays her original role, Susan, as well as Barbara. Both actors share the narration of what is a tense, fast-moving and dangerous story set in Spain amidst the Inquisition and the preparations for the Armada.
It's excellent stuff, and would have fitted perfectly into the gap between Season 1 and Season 2 in 1964.
My only quibble is that it's a bit TOO MUCH like the historical adventures of the first year of "Doctor Who", almost formulaic in that Ian inevitably ends up in prison then enduring whatever grueling ordeal the age specializes in, accompanied by a loyal and brave fellow captive, whilst the Doctor ingratiates himself into the corridors of power with varying degrees of success. Barbara and/or Susan are taken in by locals who risk their own lives doing so. Historical celebrities are either befriended unknowingly, or glimpsed at a distance.
This apart, I found "The Flames of Cadiz" hugely enjoyable, but can't decide whether I'm more in awe of the long-suffering Ian Chesterton or the seemingly immortal and indefatigable William Russell!
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on 20 August 2013
A cool historical tale with the Inquisition! All the cast are very entertaining and the story is great!I prefer the original cast in good historicals.
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