This, the fist episode of the Companion Chronicles features Maureen O'Brien reprising her role as the first Doctor's companion Viki, a space traveller from he future, who left the TARDIS after she fell in love with the Trojan hero Troilus, and departed to begin a new life in the ancient world as Lady Cressida. This story reveals that she misses the advanced world of the future, but she has a secret friend hidden deep underneath a temple in the form of the mysterious 'cinder'.
In the story that she recounts to the cinder, she recounts how, along with the Doctor and fellow companion Steven, she visited Regency London druing a bitterly cold winter. A frost fair is being held on the Thames, where they encounter novelist Miss Austen and a mysterious egg. Writer Marc Platt weaves an engenious plot, capturing beautifully the flavour of the early series of Doctor Who, and painting a very convincing picture of the period. He also writes Jane Austen very well, capturing her elegant but catty personality admirably well. She is just one of a rich and varied cast of characters that you can believe are really from the nineteenth century. At the same time, the science fiction element of the plot is very present, and the story is wonderfully creepy and tense, with enough humour to lighten it without tarnishing the effect. In short, the elements are beautifully balanced. Best of all, there's an ingenious time loop, making use of the legend of the pheonix in a very creative and effective way. Maureen O'Brien only adds to all this by reading the story beautifully. Her impression of William Hartnell is very good indeed, and it helps that Platt has captured his character perfectly. The plot threads are woven into a wonderfully satisfactory conclusion to an exciting, flawless and memorable narrative. Possibly the best of the Companion Chronicles that I have heard yet.
first in a series of audio plays that feature actors who played companions to doctor who on tv, reprising their roles and telling stories - in the format of a talking book - of untold adventures for their character and the doctor.
This one features maureen o'brien as the first doctor's companion vicki. in this story she and the doctor and fellow companion steven visit london in 1814, and go to the last great frostfair on the frozen thames. they meet jane austen. and a deadly threat to the world.
And at the same time, years after she left the tardis, vicki is relating this as a tale to someone. who is imprisoned and desperate to escape. do the two stories tie together?
a wonderful listen. superbly read by maureen o'brien, this brilliantly recreates the atmosphere and style of 1814 london, and it's a great doctor who story in it's own right as well. things do tie together very neatly at the end.
It runs for an hour in total, over one disc, with two half an hour long episodes.
One of the best early Companion Chronicles, with classical actress Maureen O'Brien bringing to life a story that is thoroughly enjoyable in its own right, as well as bringing us up to date with Vicki's fate after the stayed behind at the Fall of Troy. Like so many of the Trojan refugees she ended up in Carthage, and it's there (in a thoroughly believable Bronze Age underground temple) that events involving a phoenix, which began when she was travelling with Steven and the Doctor, come full circle. Marc Platt's historical research into the frost fairs, as well as his speculative reconstuction of Carthaginian religion & society, seem totally plausible and the story fits neatly into the one-hour slot. It's wonderful that Maureen O'Brien has reconciled herself to coming back into the orbit of "Doctor Who". She was always a first-class actress, and her reading adds flesh & bones to the proceedings.
The first two series of The Companion Chronicles focus on the first four Doctors, three of who were obviously no longer with us, so this was a great way to deliver earlier Doctor stories that until then had not really been viable and allowing us to hear characters that were both fresh and nostalgic. Obviously they were on to a winner as this went on for a further seven series; Maureen O'Brien takes centre stage as Vicki in the introductory story of the range.
Maureen seems to relish the chance to take centre stage and determined to make the most of it gives superb and natural narration. Maureen's narration is evocative, never trying to mimic Hartnell's voice just his tone she sails through this with ease. The understated soundscapes of this range, in this case supplied by Laurence Oakley and Robert Dunlop, always facilitate the emotive elements of the stories; Marc Platt's writing combines with the audio element sublimely. Between them they offer a rich scenic setting structured from music and words.
Vicki is telling this story as an ageing woman in 1164 B.C., many years after she left the TARDIS in ancient Troy to marry Troilus in The Myth Makers. We find out that, at first, not all has went well for Vicki, in her new life in Greece. The Doctor, Steven and Vicki arrive at the last of the great frost fairs, in London. After looking around they meet Jane Austen, and discover a dragon's egg. This tale mixes fantasy with the familiar, and stirs strong imagery in the listeners mind. It's well paced and has a resolution that can only be described as chicken and the egg. It doesn't quite have the emotional resonance that the best of the range has, but is very close to being perfect.