The box set of Gallifrey IV offers (over 5 cds in four jewel cases) the fourth series instalment of the story of Gallifrey, under the presidency of Romana (chapters fifteen to eighteen). At the end of Gallifrey III, all had seemed lost on Gallifrey – only Braxiatel, Romana, Narvin, Leela and K-9 had been safe – but just how safe are they?
In these four stories (with one final cd offering a behind the scenes documentary), these unlikey companions must try and find their way out of the Axis and home; but can they ever go home?
In chapter fifteen, they find their way to a Gallifrey, but not the one they know from their reality. Here, Leela and K-9 are remembered as heroes, and Romana finds a family life she could have had. This story features a guest role played by Mary Tamm.
In chapter sixteen, Gallifrey is a place that wants Romana dead, and the Temporal Investigation Agency sends their best agent to ensure she is eliminated from the timelines for ever. If they find her, she will never have existed. This story features a guest role played by Colin Baker.
In chapter seventeen, Gallifrey is at war with itself – the True Lords and the Ancient Enemy face off across the battlelines, and Romana faces decisions, again, that she knows could doom an entire race. This story features guest roles played by Katy Manning and Geoffrey Beevers.
In chapter eighteen, Narvin and Romana must face themselves, and Leela must free an entire slave workforce before they can try to save themselves from a fate that will wipe out not just Gallifrey, but possibly the entire universe in a threat that Rassilon foresaw long ago. This story features a guest role played by Carole Ann Ford.
I think some listeners may question Gallifrey IV as a concept – why have this series of stories which feature Gallifrey, not as it was left at the end of Gallifrey III, but ‘alternative’ timelines – why have these stories which feature other times and other realities at all? But I think the stories themselves are the keys to the development of the characters – Romana, Leela, Narvin, Brax and K-9 have been pivotal characters throughout the whole of the Gallifrey storyline (and I look forward immensely to seeing where the story goes in Gallifrey V, VI and the upcoming VII:Intervention Earth), and it is rewarding to take them outside their boundaries of knowledge and understanding and test them in new fires. They move from Gallifrey IV to Gallifrey V more haunted by what they have undergone, but perhaps the testing has proven them more ready to face what lies ahead. I await the next chapters of the story with great anticipation.
It is with great regret now that I held back on purchasing Gallifrey IV, because of the reviews below. What a mistake. Last month, I finally decided to buy it (because I like things complete, and because I really enjoyed the Gallifrey series so far...), and I thought it was really excellent.
If you're expecting anything similar to what happened in the last series - don't. This is about Romana and her gang (no spoilers!) finding an alternative Gallifrey in the hope that they can live there and "start again". The alternative Gallifrey's that they find are absolutely fascinating and intriguing, and some surprises - I particularly recommend the bits with Colin Baker, which are a very good and interesting look at things (or how they could have been).
Please ignore the negative reviews below, and give it a go. You won't regret it, as long as you realise it's not like the other three series of Gallifrey. :)
I really enjoyed this box set. It's a departure from the previous 3 series, but is still extremely enjoyable. I love the close focus on the four main characters (or five if you count K9!). All four stories are totally gripping.
The first three series of Gallifrey audio plays make up an excellent, fast paced adventure series that has something of a John Le Carre feel; a political tale but told within a science fiction setting. The performances are strong, the plots complex and the series builds to a cliff hanger ending. As someone who had enjoyed these plays, I was delighted to find another series had been released; my delight ended as soon as I started to listen. The complex threads of the previous cliff hanger ending are brushed aside within a few lines, as the characters drift through a tedious series of 'alternative' versions of Gallifrey via a portal that pops up now and then. These 'other' Gallifreys include some deeply silly ideas, from Romana being married to Andred, to a female Borusa. Each story visits another Gallifrey that isn't Gallifrey, and it is hard to care what happens on each, as they are not the real Gallifrey. The energy and excitement of the previous CDs is completely missing, as is the theme music, replaced by a vastly inferior one, and it really is hard going to sit through all four dull stories. After the previous series this set is a staggering letdown from start to finish. There are many excellent Doctor Who CD plays available via Amazon, many of them from Big Finish, sadly Gallifrey Four is not one of them.