This is the second of the ‘Unbound series of audio adventures from Big Finish. Released between 2003 and 2008, this was a series that asked a lot of ‘what if’ questions about the show and produced a range of fascinating stories. It ran for 8 releases, and is some of the best work to have come out of Big Finish productions.
This second release asks ‘What if when exiling the Third Doctor to Earth, the Time Lords sent him to 1999 instead of the 1970’s?’ The answer: Earth would have been a very different place, and the lives of many people that the Doctor was associated with would have been totally altered.
This is one of the best of the series. It is perhaps the most ‘traditional’ Who story in the range, a gripping adventure in which the alternative 3rd Doctor has to get to grips with someone’s evil master plan and thwart it. But what makes this so special are the character moments. David Warner stars as the alternative third Doc, displaying many of Pertwee’s qualities but not attempting to impersonate Pertwee. Thus he makes the part his own, and we are treated to yet another great Doctor Who never was (following the excellent Geoffrey Bayldon in the forst release ‘Auld Mortality’). Superb as Warner is, it is the appearance of Nicholas Courtney as an older, weary, bitter Brigadier that makes this special. This is an alternative Brigadier, in 1999 retired to Hong Kong and running a bar after a disastrous army career in which, due to the absence of the Doctor, many threats were not warded off in the same way. It’s a great character, and the script writer very cleverly shows us the fates of many old UNIT friends in the Doctor’s absence, with an alternative ending for Mike Yates that will please many fans of the series.
Courtney is magnificent in the role, subtly changing the Brig’s character to suit. His interaction with Warner is superb and these two make a great combination.
The story itself is quite dark, and features the appearance of an old foe from the real Third Doctor’s time. This character, and the effect that the Doctor’s absence has had on him, is again excellently scripted and acted. I won’t reveal who he is, the moment of the big reveal sent a reall shiver down my spine. The ending is bleak – just how effective has the Doctor’s meddling been? And how effective has it been over all his past adventures after he has left?
Lovers of the Rolling Stones will also find much to enjoy, as the song from which the title is taken is referenced a few times in very clever ways. A nice little touch that I enjoyed immensely.
It’s 75 minutes long, a single episode on a single disc. The time just flew by.
5 stars. It’s an excellent story and an excellent production. And any story with Nicholas Courtney giving such a strong performance is always good.