AUDIO DRAMA
Doctor Who
Night Thoughts

Starring: Sylvester McCoy
Big Finish Productions
RRP: 14.99
ISBN 1 84435 167 X
Available 26 February 2006


In a remote Scottish mansion, five bickering academics are being haunted. Reluctantly they offer shelter to the Doctor and his companions. Hex, already troubled by a nightmare, is further disturbed by a whistling, hooded apparition. Meanwhile, Ace tries to befriend the young housemaid, Sue, who prefers to communicate through her disturbing toy rabbit. Then the killing begins...

Promotional trailers are funny things, aren't they? Or maybe it's just my reaction to them. I always know on a conscious level that they are teasers edited together from only the tastiest snippets of the production they are designed to publicise, and yet I still allow them to get me all excited. I found the trailer to this particular story very creepy and surreal-sounding indeed, and was further unnerved by the cover illustration of a battered-looking stuffed toy, Happy the Rabbit, which brought to mind that larger-scale member of the family Leporidae, the freaky Frank in Donnie Darko.

Almost inevitably, Night Thoughts is not as weird or as spooky as I had anticipated. During the first two (of four) episodes, the only really unsettling thing is the guttural voice with which the traumatised Sue (Lizzie Hopley) speaks while communicating through Happy. However, things pick up considerably during the second half of the story, which involves a macabre matter with a long-dead corpse and some complex business regarding changing the course of history (though possibly too many epilogues).

Ace (Sophie Aldred), who attempts to befriend Sue, seems unusually upbeat and free from emotional baggage (or refreshingly so, depending on how you regard the development of this character over the years). This is particularly remarkable when you consider that Edward Young's script for this story was originally submitted to the Doctor Who production office back in 1989, when the old series was still on the air and Aldred and Sylvester McCoy were the current TARDIS crew. Ace's relationship with Hex (Philip Olivier) is developing nicely, though, like a brother/sister thing involving lots of playful bickering.

This is a good story for the still relatively new companion - second only to the marvellous The Harvest. Hex's medical expertise comes in handy on a number of occasions.

From the new recruit to an old hand, Night Thoughts also features the measured tones of Bernard Kay, who chalked up several Who appearances back in the '60s and '70s, including The Crusade and The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Kay adds his usual gravitas (what you might call "that Bernard Kay thing") to his role as the dictatorial Major Dickens.

Those are my thoughts. 'Night.

Richard McGinlay

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