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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 23 April 2015
This is a full cast audio adventure released by Big Finish. It is one of Big Finish’s early audio releases, first released in 2000, and only number 10 in the Main Range series, which is now about to reach the 200 mark. The relatively new experience of these audio adventures comes across a bit in the finished product, where sometimes things are ‘told’ us more often than perhaps they need to be – while it may be difficult to project some experiences through a purely audio experience, I think sometimes there was a bit more telling by the characters than the audience strictly needed. But that’s my only quibble.

The story is set in the Swiss Alps in 1963. At a finishing school there, run by the redoubtable Miss Tremayne, the girls are taught well, but live frugally – it’s good for the soul, as Miss Tremayne would tell them. As the Christmas holidays draw near, two girls, together with Miss Tremayne and Mademoiselle Maupassant, the school French teacher, are caught at the school by a severe winter storm and snowed in. They are joined by a policeman, Lt. Peter Sandoz, and a rather chilly Nyssa, who was asked by the Doctor to hold a piece of equipment and found herself “accidentally teleported” to the middle of the snow. Needless to say, she’s not impressed by this, and when the Doctor eventually appears, doesn’t hesitate to let him know.

The school is experiencing some odd poltergeist-like activity, but once the Doctor starts to investigate, he finds that there is a lot more going on than just pianos playing themselves, or wardrobes moving across the hall. (Great sound effects on the piano, by the way, I loved the way it sounded as it chased the Doctor and Nyssa down the corridoor.)

This is a great story; what starts off as a fairly straightforward “is it a ghost?” story turns into something far more sinister and layered, and then even more sinister and layered. The guest stars do a great turn (including India Fisher as the aptly named Peril), and it was nice to hear Peter Jurasik as the policeman, when to me he was much more familiar in his role as Ambassador Londo in Babylon 5. Great stuff, highly recommended.
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on 30 September 2007
Recently reading Doctor Who Magazine's article on Big Finish reaching 100 audio adventures, I was reminded how much the plays have matured over the last decade. This, the tenth in the range, still has the rough edges of the early stories; Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton perfectly replicate their on-screen personas but the supporting cast ham it up dreadfully - some of the dodgy accents are positively cringeworthy!
However, when all's said and done, Andrew Cartmel has written an accomplished ghostly tale reminiscent of the kind of Victorian mystery tales so skilfully spun by the likes of Dickens, Wells and Poe. Of course, they have the obligatory sci-fi element too; in this case a teleportation experiment that has led to The Doctor's companion, Nyssa, becoming stranded on the freezing side of a Swiss mountain in 1963, where an exclusive finishing-school houses a dark and supernatural secret...
Sarah Sutton has fast become my favourite audio companion, whilst Davison is second only to Colin Baker in terms of successfully transferring from TV to radio. Whilst Winter for the Adept doesn't exactly break new ground in terms of Doctor Who, it is assuredly a welcome slice of sci-fi - as well as a dark and cosily satisfying audio experience.
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This is the tenth release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Peter Davison as Five and Sarah Sutton as Nyssa. There are four episodes, roughly 25 minutes each, complete with original theme music between each, and cliff hanger endings. Two episodes per disc on 2 discs, and a short booklet with some notes from the author.

Nyssa is accidentally teleported to a select Swiss finishing school in 1963, where there appear to be some ghostly goings on. The Doctor Soon follows and they are plunged headlong into a fight against a seemingly supernatural poltergeist, but the Doctor soon suspects that there is more than meets the eye.

The first sections of the story are well done and quite atmospheric. The ghost story element is well realised, and a quite creepy feel to the story results. However, being Doctor Who there is a sci fi twist, and this is not so well realised. It feels shoehorned in a little, some of the explanations a little too convenient, and a there is a rushed and pointless final finale tacked on the end after all the earth bound threats have been dealt with. Most of the actors (India Fisher, who would later become a regular companion to 8 as Charlotte Pollard, and Peter Jurasik of Babylon 5 fame especially) do a decent job, it is the story that lets them down. Fleshing out the ghost story and reducing the alien threat would have greatly enhanced the production. The first one in the series which didn't really impress me, so three stars only.
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on 11 April 2006
"When a teleportation experiment goes badly wrong, Nyssa finds herself stranded on the freezing slopes of the Swiss Alps in 1963. But is it mere coincidence that she finds shelter in a snowbound school haunted by a malevolent poltergeist?
"When the Doctor arrives, Nyssa and the other inhabitants of the school soon discover that the ghost is merely part of a darker, deeper and more deadly game involving rogue psi talents and something else... Something not of this Earth."
Winter for the Adept, written by Who veteran Andrew Cartmel, is an intriguingly titled little number that takes the unusual approach of facing the Doctor and the supporting cast with an apparently supernatural foe. The poltergeist activity is a nice idea and, where it concerns the piano (a recurring motif in the story), is nicely executed - but elsewhere, it leads to my greatest criticism of the story: blatant narration!
Like in The Land of the Dead before it, the characters are often required to say the most painfully obvious, beat-you-about-the-head-with-it lines explaining to the listener what is happening on the imaginary screen. The second episode cliff-hanger is particularly guilty of this, and I'm afraid it does spoil the effect of the otherwise accomplished script and performances.
There are a range of distinct supporting characters, including special guest star Peter Jurasik as the sceptical Lt. Peter Sandoz and a plucky first appearance by India Fisher as one of the students (Fisher would later go on to play the Doctor's companion, Charley Pollard, in the Big Finish adventures starring Paul McGann). Certain characters, such as the eccentric headmistress Miss Tremayne, suffer from a lack of exposure - but overall the characters are well-drawn.
Winter for the Adept comes to a decent if somewhat unexpected conclusion, and one is not left with the feeling of time wasted; but it's a pity about the blatant narration, and a pity that a couple of the episodes come up short in length.
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on 8 September 2015
Winter for the Adept was written by Andrew Cartmel and directed by Gary Russell. This audio drama was recorded on 18 and 20 March 2000 at The Moat Studios.
The Music set a fantasy atmosphere and was mostly good but for a couple of the more ominous moments. Russell Stone's score was released on Music from the New Audio Adventures Volume 3, alongside the soundtracks for Red Dawn and The Holy Terror. There wasn’t really any stand out acting and a lot of it was over the top due to the farcical nature of it, yet the two main characters played it totally straight.
It started off at a fair pace but ran out of steam after three episodes. The problem with a non-visual ghost story is that lots of the ghostly goings on have to be described as they happen by the characters which wouldn’t happen if you were under genuine threat. “Look the piano is chasing us”, “Let’s run!”, “Ok!” Which all gets a bit silly to the point that I was wondering if it was a comedy, and I am still not sure. It certainly feels tongue in cheek which means it can get away with so much more, but where do you draw the line?
Well one thing the Doctor did (twice!) was to drug a girl – in the context of the story it’s fine and it works but it does seem a bit of a liberty! Also large swathes of dialogue were stilted, and the characters were mostly shallow and schmaltzy caricatures. The first Spillager death was incredibly undramatic and the ending was very SF which was a stark contrast compared to the tone for the rest of the story. Plus the ending felt contrived.
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on 25 October 2010
Winter For The Adept was only the tenth Doctor Who audio to be released by Big Finish and sees Andrew Cartmel (for what I believe was the first time) writing for a Doctor other than the Seventh Doctor. As a fan of Gothic Horror Winter For The Adept sounded like the kind of story I would enjoy, after all what could be better than a ghost story set in an isolated school at Christmas. And for the most part I found Winter For The Adept to be a roaring success.

Having a small cast of characters makes for some truly great drama. For instance the scene in which a piano can be heard playing from the music room while every character is accounted for in another room is a wonderfully creepy moment that send shivers down the spine. Cartmel then manages to make the audio go from creepy to downright unsettling as the "Ghost" opts to throw said piano at the Doctor and Nyssa.

As a ghost story Winter For The Adept is very effective, unfortunatly this being Doctor Who the effect is somewhat ruined by the Sci-Fi ending. Having said that one character is an actual genuine ghost although as The Doctor explains a ghost is not the spirit of a dead person.

I have a real soft spot for Winter For The Adept. It is by no means a classic but if you want what is for the most part a classic Christmas ghost story set in the Doctor Who universe then it comes highly recommended.
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on 28 March 2016
Excellent - probably 4.5 stars but a great self contained story.
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on 5 October 2015
A good ghost/alien dr who story.
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