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VINE VOICEon 2 November 2004
The Roof of the World starts well, with the 5th Doctor dragging Peri and Erimem along to a cricket match in Tibet, while an ancient evil is reawakening in the Himalayan Mountains. Unfortunately after a fine first episode things deteriorate, with an extended series of visions for Erimem ruining the pacing, and a disappointing last minute TARDIS hop up the mountains taking the place of any more dramatic climb for the Doctor and Peri. The basic story is uncomfortably close to that of The Abominable Snowmen, only with the Great Intelligence replaced by H.P. Lovecraft's Great Old Ones (though, it must be said - a rather feeble version). Some nice performances, but ultimately from a strong start The Roof of the World gets progressively more disappointing the longer it goes on, and ends up a decidedly average adventure for all concerned. Neither the best Cthulhu Mythos inspired Who story, nor the best set in the Himalayas - The Roof of the World competently goes over old ground, but doesn't break into any new territory.
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A superb first episode has the tardis crew in an excellently evoked tibet at the start of the 20th century. Visiting the settlement at the foot of mount everest for a spot of cricket, the doctor and friends find strange goings on afoot. This episode brilliantly conveys the feel of the setting, and has some decent supporting characters.

Alas it all gets very average from then on. The second episode is entirely devoted to dealing with the rather cliched monsters and erimem's past.

And the next two resolve things in a cliched and predictable manner. The actors cannot be faulted, but the script, after starting so well, fails to deliver much interesting or new. This is not a bad play, it's just ultimately a rather average one
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This is the fifty ninth release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Peter Davison as Five, Nicola Bryant as Peri and Caroline Morris as Erimem. There are 4 episodes, roughly 25-30 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 pictures of the cast and production notes.

The Doctor, Peri and Erimem take a trip to the Himalayas so that Five can take part in a cricket match. But dark forces are at work, focussed around the Egyptian Princess. It's not long before things get weird, and Erimem is taken on a far stranger and more terrifying journey. Can Five and Peri rescue her and prevent the end of the world?

It's a decent tale, with some interesting ideas, though not all of them work. The second episode, centred almost entirely on Erimem and her journey, is excellent, but after that it all falls down a little, and leads to a slightly damp ending which I didn't fully understand. Perhaps I wasn't listening properly.

Davison is on form as Five, all humour and rising panic, though once again he is given an opportunity to play a different character, and he does so very well. The supporting cast are excellent, playing a cast of urbane Edwardian Gentleman adventurers and members of their retinue. I rather enjoyed these characters.

In all an adventure that starts well, has some interesting ideas, but ultimately falls a little flat at the end. 3 stars in total.
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on 20 September 2015
‘The Roof of the World’ was directed by Gary Russell ex-editor of Doctor Who Magazine 1991-95, and was recorded on 19 and 20 January 2004 at The Moat Studios before being released in July 2004. The play shares its name with the first episode of ‘Marco Polo’. More notably however it was written by Adrian Rigelsford TV historian who previously wrote the (unproduced) thirtieth anniversary story The Dark Dimension and has conducted interviews for periodicals including Radio Times, Film Review, Fantasy Zone and Movies and Doctor Who Magazine.

Adrian Rigelsford’s Wikipedia page
“The accuracy of Rigelsford's reference work has been disputed, for example for unsourced and previously unheard-of quotes from William Hartnell and Roger Delgado, or the omission of the entirety of Season 18 from one of his Doctor Who reference works.
A publication in TV Times of a ‘final’ interview with director Stanley Kubrick brought Rigelsford to the attention of Anthony Frewin, a friend of Kubrick's. Frewin's investigation uncovered that a supposed tape of the Kubrick interview did not exist. In the light of this and Frewin's expert doubts, TV Times ran an apology about the interview.
In June 2004, Rigelsford was convicted of stealing 56,000 photographs from the Daily Mail/Associated Newspapers research library over an eight-year period and reselling them for approximately ₤75,000. Rigelsford was sentenced to eighteen months.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adrian_Rigelsford

Publisher Synopsis
“Tibet, 1917.
It's a time of great exploration, with intrepid teams of adventurers heading blindly into uncharted territory, determined to beat inexplicable odds and overcome any challenge they encounter...
But some things are not necessarily that easy to defeat...
An ancient evil, perhaps older than time itself, is stirring deep within the heart of the Himalayas... It has always known it will return and finish off what it started so many centuries before...
But the time has to be right...
As the TARDIS materialises, with the Doctor determined to take full advantage of an invite to a cricket match, the catalyst that the dark forces need unwittingly arrives...”
http://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/the-roof-of-the-world-225

The effects create a rich layered back drop and blend seamlessly with the music by Russell Stone which creates a natural yet suspense filled atmosphere. The production values are good and the directing is nicely focused.

Caroline Morris as Egyptian princess Erimem is given a platform and Rigelsford sets her up to steal the show, although when she attempts to act possessed she hardly covers herself in glory but this is a minor blip. Davison and Bryant are their usual professional selves, with Bryant being particularly good. Edward de Souza who played Marc Cory in ‘Mission to the Unknown’ gives a suitably sinister performance as Lord Mortimer Davey. Lord Davey is a kind of Grim Reaper character, and is related by marriage to George Cranleigh the character from 1982’s Black Orchid TV serial.

Despite being dialogue heavy the first two episodes move at a fair pace but the story itself is rather vanilla.
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on 8 July 2015
Returning to Doctor Who following his aborted 30th anniversary special 'The Dark Dimension', controversial film & TV historian Adrian Rigelsford sends the cricket loving 5th Doctor, with Peri and Erimem in tow, to see a cricket game in WW1 era Tibet. Naturally, trouble springs up before long as explorers are attacked, a mysterious cloud looms in the mountains, and some ancient force has particular designs on Erimem...

As is par for the course from Big Finish, one of the story's highlights is its cast: Davison as the youthful Fifth and Bryant as the spunky Peri are good as ever, but the show belongs to Caroline Morris as Erimem, who gets a fair bit of material here concerning her past and her own insecurities and Morris does well, conveying an incredibly confused women pushed well outside both her comfort and knowledge zones. Edward DeSouza and Sylverster Morand gets to be all pomp and harrumphing as British gentry, one of them being an agent for the real villains, while Alan Cox is likeably dweebish as the young reporter, there to chronicle a stuffed up general's exploits. Also as normal is great work from BF's technical team, creating the sounds of heavy snowfalls, bustling mountain villages and echoey caverns, while underscoring with a tense though never indulgent score that definitely adds a lot more than this particular script would have permitted.

Indeed, Rigelsford' script is something of a damp squib: the pseudo historical is very familiar territory for DW, and despite a strong start that sets up the key players and even throws in a deadly avalanche for good measure, the play just sags right after that. It's very much a tired 'aliens as gods wanting to rule the earth in a period setting' routine, and even the evocative setting and some attempted character introspection with Erimem can't mask this. On top of that, the story starts to become very exposition heavy in the second episode, with an awful lot talking devoted to describing the scene rather than immersing the audience in Erimem's nightmare. This is not helped by some of the most generic villains Who has had in recent times, lacking any real personality or flavour. Given how awesome the likes of Sutekh were, these 'Old Ones' are lesser false gods, with even The Doctor commenting on how he has seen far worse than them.

'Roof of The World' starts out quite promising, and looks set to be a fun adventure that promises all sort of mountaineering thrills, as well as maybe a sort of tribute to 'The Abominable Snowmen', but then the dialogue thickens, the villains start to manifest, and a lot of it just isn't that compelling. A real pity, as there is some good here and 'Roof' is not an incompetent tale, but it's so familiar and paint by numbers that it lacks any kind of lasting impact.
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on 21 May 2007
"Tibet, 1917.

"It's a time of great exploration, with intrepid teams of adventurers heading blindly into uncharted territory, determined to beat inexplicable odds and overcome any challenge they encounter...

"But some things are not necessarily that easy to defeat...

"An ancient evil, perhaps older than time itself, is stirring deep within the heart of the Himalayas... It has always known it will return and finish off what it started so many centuries before...

"But the time has to be right...

"As the TARDIS materialises, with the Doctor determined to take full advantage of an invite to a cricket match, the catalyst that the dark forces need unwittingly arrives..."

"The Roof of the World", by Adrian Rigelsford, is a play with some interesting ideas and great performances, but a rather lopsided structure and an poorly explored threat / villain that lacks any particular motive or background.

The play starts out seeming like an Erimem vehicle. Peter Davison's Doctor takes companions Peri and Erimem to watch a cricket match, but encounters an alien threat, taking the form of a deadly black cloud that attacks the hotel where the cricket match is to take place. Erimem "dies", and we spend a great deal of time with her disembodied self (Caroline Morris does well with the material) as the alien threat (masquerading as missing explorer Lord Mortimer Davey, played by Edward de Souza) tries to convince her to do its dirty work. Thus pass the first two episodes.

Quite why the alien threat absolutely has to use Erimem rather than anybody else, and exactly what her father (William Franklyn) has to do with it, is never made clear (unless I was just being thick when I listened to the play). And why Rigelsford, after building Erimem up so much over the course of the second episode, should choose to marginalise her so dramatically for the rest of the story is also unclear. "The Roof of the World" has, in effect, two second episodes: the first one dealing with events following Erimem's "death" from Erimem's perspective, and the rest the second dealing with the same period of time from the perspective of the Doctor, Peri and guest hangers-on General Alexander Bruce (Sylvester Morand) and his scribe John Matthews (Alan Cox). This leaves episode four to resolve the alien threat and its mission, and the whole affair isn't handled particularly well. At the end, I was left with the feeling that I really needed to listen to "The Roof of the World" again, to see what I had missed.

Not bad (and better than "The Axis of Insanity"), but probably more of a play for the completists than anything else.
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on 13 March 2009
I agree that this is a decent story that descends into mediocrity as it goes on. The opening cricket match and the Himalayan setting are promising but the story just seems to go over old ground after a while. Recommended for completists only.
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