AUDIO DRAMA
Doctor Who
The Wormery

Starring: Colin Baker and Katy Manning
Big Finish Productions
RRP 13.99
ISBN 1 84435 033 9, BFPDWCDSS5
Available now


Careworn and in need of distraction following his trial by the Time Lords, the Doctor visits Bianca's, a very special and exclusive club. But his rest is shattered by the arrival of the trans-temporal adventuress, Iris Wildthyme. She claims to be on a secret mission, a mission which involves getting so plastered that she can hear voices in her head...

And so Iris Wildthyme, the eccentric star of several Doctor Who short stories and novels penned by Paul Magrs (who co-writes this adventure with Stephen Cole) adds another of the Doctor's incarnations to her collection of encounters. Katy Manning, whose "'Ecky thump" characterisation of Iris was the best thing about Big Finish's Excelis miniseries last year, makes a welcome return to the role.

While Iris gets blotto, Colin Baker's egotistical Sixth Doctor seems a little disappointed to learn that she doesn't find his incarnation as fanciable as the other ones. The dejected Doctor depicted here echoes, either deliberately or coincidentally, his post-Trial of a Time Lord state of mind in Steve Lyons' Missing Adventures novel Time of Your Life.

Iris's adventures usually end up mirroring the Doctor's own, whether by chance, unreliable storytelling or mimicry on the part of Iris herself, and this one is no exception. She rips off some of the Time Lord's best lines, including "I'll explain later," from The Curse of Fatal Death, and the Third Doctor's comment in The Time Warrior that he is serious about what he does, but "Not necessarily about the way I do it." Unfortunately, this lends a degree of predictability to certain revelations about Bianca (a temptress well played by Maria McErlane) and her club. Perhaps the ultimate denouement is supposed to be obvious (Cole and Magrs's script is fairly self-aware) and obvious it most certainly is.

But where do worms fit into all this? Well, Bianca's is a very unusual club, which makes use of wormholes in the fabric of space, and there are some very peculiar worms in its bottles of "house special" tequila.

The club setting and Bianca's sinister singing make this another Sixth Doctor audio adventure - after The Whispers of Terror and ...ish - to feature a suitably sound-based menace.

However, like a boozy evening spent in such a club, there isn't really enough incident in this story to justify its running time of over two hours. But it's entertaining enough.

Richard McGinlay