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Audio Drama Review
It’s been many months since the Doctor was in Hexford, and Mrs Wibbsey keenly feels his absence. As her grave suspicions about her new neighbour grow, she is in danger of becoming ostracised from village life. When Mike Yates turns up with a visitor in tow, Mrs Wibbsey’s life is turned even further upside down. Why has this strange new fellow appeared - and can he really be who Mike thinks he is? With UNIT watching the skies, and a strange forest growing daily around the village perimeter, it comes as little surprise when an enormous spaceship slides into view. Who is watching Hexford, and what do they want? Never has Mrs Wibbsey needed the Doctor more. But can she cope with two...?
News of AudioGO’s casting of David Troughton in his father’s former role as the Second Doctor caused some controversy within fandom. The recasting of deceased Doctors is something that Big Finish has always resisted - though the same company has welcomed Frazer Hines’s impersonations of Troughton Sr. In fact, Hines sounds more like Troughton Sr than Troughton Jr does to my ears - David’s voice has similar qualities at the deeper end of the range, but he cannot match his father’s higher pitched moments. Nevertheless, following the initial shock of hearing a different actor in the role, I quickly forgot about it and became absorbed by Paul Magrs’s plot.
Any lingering hostility that the listener may feel towards this interloper actually works in the story’s favour, because doubt and suspicion are cast upon the Second Doctor, who appears, in the view of Mrs Wibbsey (Susan Jameson) to be up to no good. Can this be true, or is Wibbs simply too attached to “her” Doctor to accept this new one? Doctor Two (as he is referred to in the end credits) is the ideal incarnation for such a plotline, having behaved just as suspiciously in stories such as The Evil of the Daleks and The Tomb of the Cybermen. Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor might also have worked, but developments in the next, fifth and final episode, Survivors in Space, rule him out.
As if in response to the presence of a rival, Tom Baker seems to pull out all the stops with his performance as the Fourth Doctor. Rather than relying on the comic eccentricity that comes so naturally to him, there’s a dangerous edge to his delivery as he learns that another incarnation has been muscling in on his turf.
Though they are also part of the larger, five-disc, Serpent Crest saga, the fourth and fifth releases are really a two-part story in their own right, with close links between them (as suggested by Anthony Dry’s Chris Achilleos-inspired cover illustrations) and an epic cliffhanger at the end of The Hexford Invasion. Therefore, you will want to listen to Survivors in Space as quickly as possible. Fortunately, the two have been released simultaneously to enable you to do just that.
You might feel a little short-changed, as each of these final two releases runs ten minutes short of the advertised one hour and ten minutes - but you’re still getting two Doctors for the price of one!