Evelyn Smythe tells one of her students a rip-roaring tale
of rum, buried treasure and peg legs as she recounts her piratical
adventure with the Doctor...
As you might expect from the title and the synopsis, this
tale is not intended as an accurate historical account of
piracy on the high seas during the 18th century. Nor is it
strictly a genre pastiche, such as The Gunfighters or
Big Finish's own The Church and the Crown, even though
there are plenty of references to the work of Robert Louis
Stevenson. No, Doctor Who and the Pirates has more
in common with The One Doctor and Bang-Bang-a-Boom!,
as it spoofs the conventions of the historical Who
stories themselves. Therefore, it's actually a pastiche of
the genre-pastiche genre, if you see what I mean!
And so the production team permit their performers to overact
to extremes, particularly in the case of former Goodie Bill
Oddie as the pirate Red Jasper and Nicholas Pegg as the craven
ship's captain, Emmanuel Swan. I was also amazed to hear Colin
Baker sing, for the first time since Soldiers of Love.
Throughout, Evelyn's (Maggie Stables) audience of one, Sally
(Helen Goldwyn), points out the historical anachronisms and
dubious vocalisations, thus assuring the listener that, yes,
it is supposed to be this silly.
have no problems with the self-mocking aspects of this story.
After all, I loved The One Doctor, and thought Bang-Bang-a-Boom!
was pretty good too. What doesn't work for me is the fact
that the writer, Jacqueline Rayner, also attempts to tag on
a couple of tragic elements, which jar against the prevailing
tone of the piece. I am forced to agree with the Doctor when
he suggests that perhaps Evelyn chose the wrong story to tell
Doctor Who and the Pirates should have had the courage
to be either out-and-out zany, or a full-on tragedy. It cannot
hope to be both, and indeed it does not succeed in being either.
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