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Audio Drama Review
“It’s like The Village That Time Forgot!” The inhabitants of the quiet seaside town of Thorington are living the same day over and over again. What’s so special about the 1st of September 1991? Why haven’t the villagers noticed that the same song has been number one for years? And just where on Earth has the sea disappeared to? The Doctor and Lucie must solve the mystery before the “visitors” return...
WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS!
Two men called Adams influenced the development of Jonathan Clements’s script for Brave New Town: Douglas and Bryan. The writer admits that he was in a Douglas Adams frame of mind when he contemplated the concept of a literal “month of Sundays”. Here, the strange residents of a supposedly seaside town have been experiencing the same Sunday for 17 years. Bryan Adams’s contribution to the story is the record-breaking longevity of his single “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You”, which topped the UK charts for what felt like forever in 1991. But the townsfolk of Thorington have to endure the same old tune for far longer than 16 weeks!
Another requirement of the script was to bring back the Autons, monsters that have never before been attempted by Big Finish, because their typical abilities (taking over plastic) and characteristics (tending not to be talkative) aren’t exactly a good fit for audio. The revelation of their presence here certainly came as a surprise to me, hence the spoiler alert above. Clements makes interesting use of the creatures, though I would hesitate to use the word “original”, because the notion of autonomous Autons has been tackled before, in Gary Russell’s trilogy of Doctor Who novels The Scales of Injustice, Business Unusual and Instruments of Darkness. Several Star Trek Borg stories have also revolved around a similar idea. You don’t need to be a Who expert to follow the plot (each of the stories in this season of Eighth Doctor and Lucie adventures has been designed to be “newcomer friendly”), though I do wonder whether the Autons’ affinity for oil might go some way towards explaining the fluid form of the Nestene Consciousness in Rose.
Brave New Town is a nice little story, but not earth-shattering, despite the involvement of the Autons and a neat spin on the notion of Cold War training grounds for sleeper agents. I found myself making very few notes while listening to the episode, which seems to come to an end before it’s really got going.
Even so, it’s worth braving, particularly for the turns by guest stars Derek Griffiths and Adrian Dunbar.