Ostend, 1913. War is coming, and the guest in suite 139
of the Hotel Palace Thermae knows it. Which is odd, considering
he has trotters, a snout and a curly tail. Two peculiar strangers
have been hunting Toby the Sapient Pig. The first, Miss Alice
Bultitude, is an Englishwoman and a collector of obscure theatrical
ephemera. The second, Inspector Alphonse Chardalot, is a celebrated
member of the detective police: the man who brought the trunk
murderess of St Germain to justice. The Doctor and Peri must
do battle with a villain who wants to wipe every last human
from the face of the earth... once he's had another dish of
truffles... and maybe a valedictory glass of fizzy lemonade...
production boasts a small but very notable cast. Adjoa Andoh,
who was Sister Jatt in New
Earth, plays another medic here, the dedicated
Nurse Albertine. Paul Brooke, an actor and comedian who's
appeared in simply loads of things, from For
Your Eyes Only to The Worst Week of My Life
(you'll know him when you hear his voice or see his picture
inside the inlay), is endearing as her patient, Toby the Sapient
Pig. Michael Keating, better known as Vila from Blake's
7, is every bit as grandiloquent as he was in Soldiers
of Love in his role as the dubious Inspector Chardalot.
Perhaps most remarkable of all is former Vicki actress Maureen
O'Brien, who is virtually unrecognisable as the eccentric
is intentionally a very silly story (with the inclusion of
a talking pig, you've probably guessed as much already) but
there's also some intrigue surrounding certain time anomalies
and the mystery of Toby's origins. At a whopping 150 minutes,
it is somewhat overlong - so long, in fact, that the production
team have had to present the story in two parts rather than
four, omitting two sets of beginning and end theme music in
order to fit the tale on to two discs. However, the quality
of the performances from all concerned helps to keep the whole
Talking of the music, according to the CD's sleeve notes and
Pig Finish's - sorry, Big Finish's - website, this
story takes place between Timelash and Revelation
of the Daleks. Therefore, the Peter Howell
arrangement of the signature tune should have been used. However,
the 1986 Dominic Glynn version has been used instead, which
is a bit of an oversight.
his own sleeve note, writer Matthew Sweet recalls being concerned
that Toby might be regarded as too similar to the spacesuited
swine seen in the 2005 television episode Aliens of London.
That thought hadn't occurred to me, though I was reminded
of Anton the talking pig and his fellows in Jim Mortimore's
New Adventures novel The Sword of Forever, having
recently been put in mind of them by the Bernice Summerfield
Friends. The time-travel aspects of this tale
also invite speculation that Toby's biological augmentation
might somehow be connected with the pig-brained Peking Homunculus
from 1977's The
Talons of Weng-Chiang. Did his "father" travel
back from the 51st century using zygma beam technology?
of the Pig won't be to every fan's liking (at least one
critic considers it hogwash). I found I made very few notes
while listening to this story, but I'd be telling porkies
if I said I didn't enjoy the experience.
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