For the latest forum review I leave you in the very capable hands of @ChrisNewman1972
, who on the forum this week has been discussing and reviewing the first in the Doctor Who Unbound series, Auld Mortality. Over to Chris....
One thing I love about our little forum is that we are pretty good for
not getting our knickers in a collective twist over things. However if
you are ever wondering what it is like to inflict mass chaos on an
otherwise strictly ordered and hierarchical society then of the ways
that you can amuse yourself is to go on to any other Doctor Who forum
and post a statement like...
"X is absolute rubbish because we saw him take an aspirin and we know from Y that a Time Lord is allergic to aspirin."
This is even more fun if Y is something on the margins of Doctor Who like a story from the 1978 annual or a TV Movie.
think there is a danger (as Star Trek found in the late 90s to its
cost) of being too wrapped up in continuity, and the bods at Big Finish
agree. They have created a range of stories called "Unbound" and they
advertise them as...
"New Doctors. New Dimensions. A series of
plays outside of accepted Doctor Who continuity with actors new to the
role of the Doctor in situations that might have been, if only..."
If it sounds slightly weird then let me tell you, they have some serious
writers and serious
actors playing the Doctor. This is a little untapped corner of the
Whoniverse but I promise you these stories are little gems! As I haven't
done a review for a while, I thought this might be something you may
want to take a look at. As weird as it is to listen to different Doctors
play the role, these are (in my opinion) some of the finest things that
Big Finish have done and all that is asked is that you cast off the
chains of canon and embrace the anarchy.
The first in the series is a play called "Auld Mortality" and has
Geoffrey Bayldon giving a performance that will tickle your heart as it
is so reminiscent of Hartnell's First Doctor. The synopsis is as
"What if... the Doctor and Susan had never left Gallifrey?
In a marble mausoleum, deep in the cisterns beneath the Capitol, Gallifrey's favourite author faces his ultimate destiny.
Who is the woman who claims to be his grandaughter?
Who is the sepulchral figure in robes of night?
Which path should Hannibal's army take to Rome?
on a snowy mountain high in the Alps, the Doctor remembers the ultimate
question: What if he and Susan had ever left Gallifrey?"
will probably have gathered that I am something of a fan of the Unbound
series and a great part of that affection is due to this story. It is
written by classic series writer Marc Platt and let us not mess about
here, this guy can really put a tale together! It has a slightly ghostly
feel to it and the manner in which "The Doctor" is introduced
immediately throws us "off centre". Yet whilst so much of the idea and
underlying plot is based around "a new doctor" without the constrains of
canon, the story very cleverly uses the familiarity of Doctor/Susan
relationship to give the listener some frame of reference to warm to the
characters and to care about what happens to them.
Bayldon is one of those actors whose voice you will recognise
immediately and it is no coincidence that he was one of the actors that
JNT looked to replace William Hartnell with in The Five Doctors (he
eventually went with the late Richard Hurndall). Bayldon is totally
magnificent and I found myself wondering what type of Doctor he would
have made on screen. His relationship with Carole Ann Ford is pitch
perfect from the start. As with all Big Finish Productions, the
SoundScape is wonderful and the production values are high.
all that apart, what you have here is a brilliant story that operates
outside of the normal Doctor Who universe. Bayldon's homage to the First
Doctor works so well that half way through you can readily accept him
as our Time Lord hero. Platt's storytelling and good supporting actors
make this a fabulous little tale and well worth an hour and a half of
I have just been on the Big Finish site
and they are
selling this story for a ridiculously cheap £5 - for less than the price
of a Big Mac Meal and a Latte, you can have this wonderful curiosity.
And I guarantee that if you buy this, you will immediately return and
buy up the whole series which is available for the ridiculous price of
The concept does require a leap of faith on behalf of the listener, but make that leap and you will be richly rewarded.
For more merchandice news and reviews, check out The Doctor In The TARDIS Forum