first in a new series of doctor who companion chronicles audios. these are talking books read by actors who played companions of the first four doctors on tv. They tell an all new story not heard or seen before, and they always have one other actor involved who will do the single other speaking role in the tale.
Like most of them, this one runs for just over an hour, in two half hour episodes, and has an interview with the main actor at the end of it.
This story involves steven taylor, companion to the first doctor, played by actor peter purves who reads this tale. In it the tardis arrives in russia in the summer of 1812, and steven the doctor and other companion dodo settle into an idyllic life staying on a farm in the russian countryside. but war is looming, as napoleon is about to invade. and so is another invader from beyond the stars. their peaceful summer is about to be rudely shattered.
This is very well read by peter purves who does a good impression of william hartnell, and whilst the story moves a little slowly at times you simply don't mind because the atmosphere it conjures up in creating the setting is absolutely superb and a pleasure to listen to. It's a good little story, well resolved in part two.
And the above mentioned interview with peter purves is very good and worth listening to. a strong start to the new batch of companion chronicles
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A peaceful working holiday in 19th century Russia for the TARDIS crew sounds too good to be true – and it was never going to last, not with an alien on the loose and Bonaparte leading the invading French army towards Moscow… 5* (2 episodes, 1 CD, 68 minutes + extras)
Marc Platt’s ‘Mother Russia’ is a splendid historical in the classic style, plus a mysterious alien in the manner of later pseudo-historical stories like ‘The Time Warrior’. It’s rich in atmosphere evoking the spirit of Old Russia, from the rural estates, the villages and the forests in high summer to the heart of the Kremlin as the first flakes of snow begin to fall. David Darlington’s sound design and music brings this Russian background convincingly to life.
It’s a two-part story, as with most of the Companion Chronicles, but the journey feels longer because so much time and movement is efficiently written into the plot. The seasons pass and the scene changes as Steven, with the Doctor and Dodo, happily fits in to their new surroundings until two alien forces disrupt their summer idyll – the marauding French army and another, mysterious arrival from much further away…
Peter Purves is really excellent, fitting effortlessly back into the role of Steven and carrying the evocative narration with energy, accents and ease. And his portrayal of William Hartnell’s Doctor (the Original!) is a delight. The interview track on this disc is fascinating as he talks about his approach to performing the story and his fond memories of working with ‘Bill’ all those years before.
Tony Millan plays ‘The Interrogator’ and is also excellent, as a more complex character than he first appears. How, where and when he and Steven are talking is the best part of the ‘mystery’ side of this story; the nature of the alien probably won’t be that big a surprise to most experienced fans, but that’s the least important part of this adventure. It’s how the character is used that is key, and for me that really paid off with some intriguing twists.
Highly recommended to all fans of those classic First Doctor historicals. 5*
(A fascinating 6 minute interview follows the episodes, plus 4 minutes of the atmospheric music. The CD insert has interesting writer’s notes and a picture of the recording session.)
The 1st story from series 2 of the Companion Chronicles, finds the First Doctor, Steven and Dodo arriving in the Russia countryside in 1812. Settling into a peaceful co-existence with the local villagers, the trio soon find their tranquillity threatened by the impending arrival of the French army and Emperor Napoleon (as he marches on Moscow) as well as an unwanted visitor from beyond the stars, lurking menacingly in the nearby woods.
Peter Purves, revisiting the character of Steven once again, does a wonderful job of recreating the pace and feel of the First Doctor adventures and as others have noted, does a very good impression of William Hartnell's Doctor. At just over 1 hour in length, this is a very enjoyable story and a great start to the new series of the Companion Chronicles audio collection.
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