Space 8: an advanced monitoring station floating among
the stars. Its mission: to boldly host the Intergalactic Song
Contest. With representatives from myriad worlds attending,
the eyes of the universe are on the station. But things take
a turn for the worse when people begin to die...
In December 2001, writers Clayton Hickman and Gareth Roberts
treated us to the festive frivolity that was The One Doctor.
For Christmas 2002, they have brought us the even wackier
Bang-Bang-a-Boom!, which again co-stars Bonnie Langford
as Mel, this time alongside Sylvester McCoy's Doctor.
Space 8 sounds suspiciously similar to a certain Star
Trek series, and indeed it comes complete with its own
transporter - sorry, matter beam - system. But whereas the
crew of DS9 are a competent and efficient group of
people, the personnel on this station are comically inept,
from the absent-minded Professor Fassbinder (former Goodie
Graeme Garden) to medic Eleanor Harcourt (Keep it in the
Family's Sabina Franklyn), who constantly bemoans the
fact that she feels "so helpless". In fact, this is a spoof
of space operas in general, as becomes apparent when Harcourt
and Fassbinder bring the listener up to speed with their previous
misadventures via explanatory dialogue that is hilariously
lacking in subtlety.
obvious pastiche is the Intergalactic Song Contest, which
is clearly based upon a certain annual musical competition
that takes place in Europe. Unfortunately, MJTV's Soldiers
of Love series has already covered this subject in several
recent episodes in the guise of its own Galactovision Song
Contest. Even the name of the cheerfully sarcastic presenter,
Logan, is the same - though in his favour, David Tughan's
impersonation of Terry Wogan is markedly superior to the one
Mark J Thompson did as Kerry Logan is Soldiers.
the spoofing doesn't end there. The production also makes
a mockery - albeit an affectionate and entirely justified
one - of Doctor Who's 24th season, McCoy's first. Before
he became the dark manipulator of Seasons 25 and 26, McCoy's
portrayal was overtly and notoriously comical. Big Finish's
previous visit to this era, in The Fires of Vulcan,
glossed over that fact in favour of more subtle characterisation,
but Hickman and Roberts have no qualms about bringing us the
goofy, proverb-pulverising early Seventh Doctor, and McCoy
seems entirely willing to participate in the process. If anything,
the Doctor is even crazier here than he was in Time and
the Rani, and that's saying something!
if that wasn't controversial enough, the Doctor, whom Mel
supposes must be going though some sort of mid-life crisis,
finds himself falling in love with one of the contestants
(Queen Angvia, played by Dragonfire's Patricia Quinn).
If you took exception to the Eighth Doctor kissing Grace in
the TV movie, then this will send you into shock! However,
the writers, through the Doctor's dialogue, remind us that
the Time Lord has been in love before, in the highly regarded
McCoy era is also evoked via the use of Keff McCulloch's 1987
theme arrangement, and by the inclusion of exactly the kind
of useless recaps that the BBC used to air back then before
each episode. These recaps are accurately rendered by Nick
Briggs in his guise as continuity announcer.
story is not as wonderful as The One Doctor, but it's
not far off.