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on 22 April 2017
Prompt delivery, very happy with my purchase! Thanks
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Down the years, many stories have been written for Doctor Who which, for various reasons, never got to the tv screen.

Now, thanks to Big Finish adapting some of them for audio, we can find what might have been.

This is the first in this range to feature the Third Doctor. It's a six part story, spread across three Cd's, and each episodes runs for thirty three minutes [approx.]. It's based on a storyline by Bill Strutton, who wrote the First Doctor TV story 'The Web Planet.'

Katy Manning and Richard Franklin, who played Jo Grant and Captain Mike Yates back during the Pertwee era on tv, narrate sections of the story, and voice their characters plus several others each. Although some of the supporting characters are voiced by a pair of guest actors.

The story sees the demonstration of a new weapon. Which the Doctor strongly disapproves of. But then assassination of those involved with it follows. Britain is issued an ultimatum to disarm. Or else. The person behind the threat seems to have alien backing.

When Jo and the Doctor go to Europe to track him down, they face danger. Whilst The Brigadier and UNIT face problems of their own.

The two readers are both very good at narration and voice acting. The other lost stories which have used the dual narrator format have tended to jump back and forth between them at a moment's notice. Which doesn't quite happen here, as Jo and Mike are apart for a lot of the story. Thus it very much comes in two different strands. Which makes switching between them effective.

It contains all the characteristics of the era that you could expect to see, from fights sequences that would have been done by the HAVOC stunt team, to the Doctor blustering against the Military and the Politicians, to him and Jo using fast vehicles.

The villain of the piece is an interesting creation as they are one of those villains who firmly believes that what they are doing justifies the end result. And their alien allies are never quite what you make of them. A few surprises do come in that half of the story.

The UNIT section is also pretty interesting because with the Doctor elsewhere they have to act for themselves and some things that characters never quite got to do on tv result.

Six parters are always a bit overlong, and in the middle episodes the UNIT storyline does get to be more interesting than what the Doctor and Jo are doing. This is the only real complaint though in a good story that recreates it's era so very well, and which is more than worth a listen.

There are just under twelve minutes of interviews with cast and crew on the final two tracks of disc three.

This is actually the end of the lost story range, it having been adjudged to run it's course. But it's been great to get to hear these tales that might have been.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 4 February 2015
Sign up here with UNIT for an action-packed journey back through time to the glory days of the Pertwee era! It's a terrific tale of deadly weapons, defectors and disarmament; when the Cold War suddenly seems to heat up, it's time for the Doctor to fight both a strange new enemy and his own beliefs. Because this time the world is being held to ransom - in the name of peace... 5*

`The Mega' (6 Episodes, 3 hours 21 minutes, 3 CDs)

I thought I'd seen my last `new' adventure of the Pertwee years when I watched `The Mind of Evil', so Bill Strutton's previously unproduced six episode story `The Mega' was a brilliant and very welcome chance to travel with my Doctor, Jo Grant and UNIT once again. I'm definitely a Third Doctor fan; as I've commented in other reviews, Jon Pertwee, Katy Manning and the UNIT `family' were the `Doctor Who' I knew first and that makes this a very special era for me. So would this Big Finish production live up to my expectations ...?

The answer is yes, in every way. If you don't know the Third Doctor's time that well, then this is a very enjoyable adventure. But if you know and love those years from `Spearhead' to `Spiders', then you'll fully appreciate how superb Simon Guerrier's script is for its dialogue, details, characterisations and references and you'll recognise with delight all the little mannerisms of Jon Pertwee in action. Because that's the really weird thing - there were a couple of moments when I got deeply into listening to this story that I forgot it *wasn't* Jon Pertwee ...

Katy Manning puts in a superb double performance, stepping effortlessly back into the youthful (probably platform-soled) shoes of Jo Grant AND producing an impression of Jon Pertwee in Doctor mode which (as she says on the documentary tracks) "is kind of a little spooky!" and so believable I could almost see the bouffant hair and swirling cape. Even that man of many radio voices would have been impressed. Jo and the Doctor are a close pair throughout this story as ever, so for much of the time Katy Manning is talking with herself and doing it so well that as the plot heated up I honestly forgot for a minute or two! The sleeve notes say that Simon Guerrier expanded Jo's role so she is right there with the Doctor in the thick of the action throughout - quite right too!

Richard Franklin is perfectly on parade as the leaders of UNIT, reliving his role as the efficient, intelligent Captain Mike Yates and he's also promoted to be the Brigadier, doing a great job voicing the smooth, clipped tones made famous by Nicholas Courtney. His interpretation of Sgt. Benton is perhaps from a little too far southwest of Bristol, but it's definitely Benton. The UNIT chaps make a close-knit team as usual, so Richard Franklin also spends a lot of time talking with himself and again, it's very convincing.

The two companions share the narration between them, but the Doctor and Jo are separated from UNIT for most of the story and the clear division works very well in this format. Bo Poraj and Derek Carlyle cleverly perform the assorted politicos, military men - and big monsters! - without whom no Third Doctor tale is complete and the overall feel is much closer to full-cast drama than a narrated story. This sense of scale is certainly helped by the ambitious storyline, Ken Bentley's direction and the excellent sound design that creates a convincing audio picture.

There are points in episodes 3 and 4 when the Doctor and Jo seem to be moving from A to B and back to A to fill in the time, while the UNIT part of those episodes is more interesting, but it's a very rare six-parter that doesn't have a few moments like that and the action and gadgetry are still fun to follow. In continuity terms it would seem to belong somewhere in season 9 and I thought what a pity it was they didn't make this story to end that season instead of `The Time Monster'.

Dangerous science, devious politicians and leaders, strained loyalties and subversion, intrigue and alien invasions are standard stuff in many UNIT stories, but here these familiar ideas are given some surprising twists. The `enemy' has been given a polite Ruritanian makeover to avoid naming any real country, but `somewhere east of Austria' was not friendly territory during the Cold War.

Because this is very much a Cold War story; under all the aliens and advanced technology it reflects the concerns of the 1960s and 70s as did so many `Doctor Who' scripts of that time. Like `The Ambassadors of Death', `The Mega' is a sci-fi thriller, somewhere between James Bond and The Saint plus unwelcome aliens and a Time Lord hero to take them on - and to take on the humans who forget where their true loyalties should lie. But I did wonder how comfortably this story would have sat alongside some of the other scripts of that era, because it challenges some of the most cherished, vaguely `left-wing' ideals of those decades.

There is a real depth to this story, it's more than just a very enjoyable adventure and is sometimes quite satirical as it tackles what were then seen as `trendy' post-war attitudes towards `progress' and disarmament, and clearly draws a line between the democratic governments of Western Europe and the then-existing autocracies (of whatever type) of the East of the continent. The Doctor is forced by events to reconsider what makes either weapons or other technology `good' or `bad' (or at least necessary) depending on who uses them and regardless of the intentions of their creators. He also passionately defends `the past' against the fashionable 1960s doctrine which viewed anything old as useless and only saw value in the new. His influence is, as usual, vital in changing attitudes and helping humanity to save ourselves and save the world again.

I can understand why this story was never made, it would have cost a small fortune to do it justice and without modern special effects parts of it might have been disappointing. Happily, on audio, Big Finish could give it the `big screen' treatment so we can now enjoy the full scale that Bill Strutton's storyline imagined. Following the story is an entertaining 12 minute `making of' feature and the CD booklet has some interesting background details on the storyline and adaptation, and cast photos.

Swirl your scarlet cape, jump into `Bessie' and zoom off for a UNIT adventure in the classic style. I believe this is the only Third Doctor `Lost Story' that exists, but hopefully Big Finish will eventually extend their `Early Adventures' range to include some more exploits with this talented team and my Doctor - now that would be Mega! 5*

(Thanks to Timelord-007 for recommending this story for a Third Doctor fan to enjoy!)

Thanks for reading.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 8 February 2016
This is one of the series of Lost Stories produced as full cast audio dramas by Big Finish. These are stories which, for various reasons, were written, or had story ideas drawn up for various Doctors in the tv series, but were never made. Big Finish have released nearly 30 of these Lost Stories so far, and they’re a brilliant chance to hear stories that we might have seen on tv, had circumstances been different; and a great opportunity to hear stories of their time, written for the Doctor of the time. This one is the fourth story in the fourth series of the Lost Stories.

This particular lost story is from a story outline which was written by Bill Strutton in 1970. The document was twenty pages, and hinges on season seven, with the Doctor trapped on Earth, with human villians in a near-future with officials and politicians taking actions that threaten apocalypse, never mind adding in alien threats as well. The world that is offered in these type of stories is grey and bleak. The original story outline had the added threat of a foreign country using alien technology to hold the world to ransom. The story was too big, too broad and too sprawling to ever have been successfully made for the tv series.

Simon Guerrier, with the assistance he says of David Richardson and John Dorney, has taken this story outline and made it into a story that works well in an audio medium. It is still sprawling in its depth and breadth, and skates quite close to the edge in terms of its threat, its fear of ‘foreign’ powers and civil disturbances, but it feels very much like a classic Third Doctor story. There are gadgets, chases, aliens, UNIT, and the Jon Pertwee Doctor in this story is very much as he would have played it – compassionate, trying to impose peace through peaceful means, distrustful of politicians and soldiers. He and Jo find themselves very much on the outer of many in authority throughout this story, but the Doctor and his companion stay very true to their own characters. The Mega themselves are odd creatures; they are obviously a huge and very real threat, but they never really seem all that menacing in their actions, more in their intent. It is through their use of humankind that their threat really rings true, and that has been written in very convincingly.

I really liked this story; it is still a big sprawling epic, over 6 parts, and Richard Franklin and Katy Manning, supported by Bo Poraj and Derek Carlyle play their parts wonderfully. Katy Manning’s rendition of Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor is really quite uncanny, and Richard Franklin offers us a very sympathetic Brigadier (his Benton is not so good, but we forgive that). Between them, the other two supporting cast play another eight characters, so there are plenty of characters, lots of action, and a really fast-paced story to enjoy here. Great stuff, and a welcome addition to the Lost Stories.
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on 9 March 2014
I do feel like I have just listened to an era-specific story. 180 minutes is a long time, but it was worth it.

Good points are that at times you forget that not all original cast members were present. The characters are captured perfectly. It might be a bit overlong by today's standards, but I have no issue with 6-part Pertwee stories, and even The Mutants is a far more intelligent story than some of the modern stories. Appreciations change over time.

Bill Strutton, the original author to submit ideas/story details etc for this product does not have the best starting point as his "The Web Planet" was a hugely ambitious Hartnell story and probably one of the most "ludicrous products" of the shows history. At least with The Mega we do not get that impression, although some/most credit perhaps goes to the modern adapters.

Grant and Franklin do a superb job here, perhaps moreso than some of their more regular Companion Chronicles works.

I would give this 5 stars for what it is trying to do. Reimagine a "lost/rejected" Doctor Who story. But it was rejected for a reason and the previous story, from the original author was far from ideal for Doctor Who, so neither of those bode well as a pedigree. Therefore what Big Finish have done is somewhat marvellous. My only quibble is that I do sometimes tire of dramatic monster voices, and whilst the actor is doing the best he can, I found it a bit cliche-ed at times, mindful of what modern audiences might think. That is not why it loses a star. I am taking account of the rather long format that, again, detached listeners might struggle with.

Dwell on the plus points. At times I forgot it was not Pertwee himself, as Manning delivers his part beautifully. Her character too is both performed and written extremely well. Yates and the Brigadier are well captured. The plot is pretty good. The monster is perhaps the weakest element (akin to Strutton's The Web Planet), but then at least, in both cases they are both different and in the case of The Web Planet, whilst awful on television made a superb Big Finish product with Return to Web Planet.
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