AUDIO DRAMA
Doctor Who
The Nowhere Place

Starring: Colin Baker
Big Finish Productions
RRP: 14.99
ISBN 1 84435 174 2
Available 04 August 2006


2197: the fighter-carrier Valiant has just crossed Pluto's orbital path. Its captain is expecting trouble from alien raiders. She is not expecting the Doctor and Evelyn. 1952: the Turret-class locomotive Ivy Lee is hurtling through the night. There should only be two passengers, both of them carrying documents from the War Office, but now there are also two unexpected visitors. One is a guard in ill-fitting trousers, the other an excessively dotty old lady. The Doctor and Evelyn have arrived and "Time's End" is approaching...

With The Nowhere Place, writer/director Nicholas Briggs has set out to create a spooky story set in a futuristic environment. I would say that he has largely succeeded in this aim, though certain aspects of the narrative are a little derivative.

The notion of an incongruous, impossibly old door leading to nowhere, with a mysterious connection to an antiquated and almost deserted train populated by a couple of suspicious English gentlemen, would not seem out of place in a Sapphire & Steel adventure. The scary voice of a creature from a place that the Doctor claims to be impossible is rather reminiscent of the recent television episode The Satan Pit - though, as this audio drama was recorded in March, this is probably just a coincidence. Slightly less forgivable is a plot development that owes a lot to Lance Parkin's Missing Adventures novel Cold Fusion - but I shouldn't say any more than that or I might spoil the plot for you.

In addition to writing and directing the story, Briggs also provides the sound design, post-production and music. The result is a score that sounds, in places, rather like his recent Cyberman series.

Following a strong opening episode, which is full of intrigue and snappy dialogue, little seems to happen during the second instalment. However, things get back on track (no train-related pun intended) during the final two parts. Towards the end of the story there's a very real sense of "how can the Doctor (and Briggs) possibly resolve this?"

This double CD is available with a choice of two covers, though to my mind the one showing the mysterious door is the more relevant of the two, since the Doctor (Colin Baker) and Evelyn (Maggie Stables) only spend about an episode's worth of time on board the train depicted on the other cover.

Whichever cover you end up with, it's worth finding a place somewhere on your shelf for this entertaining tale.

Richard McGinlay

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