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Doctor Who: Kingdom of Silver by James Swallow

01/10/2008. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Doctor Who: Kingdom of Silver in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who: Kingdom of Silver in the UK

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CD. pub: Big Finish ISBN: 978-1-84435-321-7. 120 minute CD. Price: 14.99 (UK). Kingdom Of Silver cast: Sylvester McCoy, Neil Roberts, Kate Terence, Terry Molloy, James George, Bunny Reed, Holly King and Nicholas Briggs. Keepsake cast: Sylvester McCoy, Neil Roberts, Kate Terence, Terry Molloy, James George and Nicholas Briggs.

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Everything is going so well on the planet of Tasak. Religion is booming, the war is over and miracle cures with the silver from the Heart of Tasak are rife. Things could be better. Sara, the prisoner in the tower, won't respond to Magus Riga or to Merel his lieutenant. Riga innocently believes that all will be well but, with the arrival of the Doctor, we know better.

The more the Seventh Doctor looks into the Heart of Tasak the less he likes it. Meeting Temeter, obviously an off-worlder, outside the TARDIS is just the beginning. From a mistrusting start, they become allies to rescue the prisoner and investigate the Heart of Silver. Without help, the Doctor is just a man in a travelling box. He inspires those around him to seek a better solution but at what cost to Tasak?

James Swallow has created this three-part story for Big Finish to tie into the spin-off series, 'Cyberman'. There's a bit of a clue in that so be prepared for those guys in big clumpy boots. It must be difficult to do new things with the Cybermen but they are so popular off and on screen, they are continually brought back. James Swallow's multiple credits include other Big Finish projects and novels for many cult SF series. He looks to be a very busy man.

As we get further into the plot we find that Temeter and Sara are not quite who they appear to be. Everything has a cost and there's no such thing as a free cure. Soon everyone is running to escape the fatal march of the Cybermen. While the Doctor finds travelling alone brings out a melancholy streak in him he still refuses to cede power to evil.

Guest stars for this project are Terry Molloy who these days is best know to UK listeners as Mike Tucker in long running radio soap 'The Archers'. (OK to me he is best known for that.) To a generation of TV viewers he is Davros in the Classic Doctor Who. In this story, for once, he gets to play a character without a voice modulator. Neil Roberts plays Temeter; Kate Terence plays Sara and James George plays Merel. The Doctor is the depressed Number Seven as voiced and emoted by Sylvester McCoy.

Despite having the Cybermen, this is all about the human and machine cost of believing and finding your beliefs to be built on sand. There's also love in this. Aah, how sweet.

'Keepsake' is the one-episode story also by James Swallow, which ties in with 'Kingdom Of Silver'. The Doctor is far in the future and looking for spare parts. Accosted by a helpful droid he gets just the part he needs but stops in his tracks when addressed directly as Doctor by the humble servo-bot. A rapid examination reveals an intelligence far above its need and contact with the Doctor sets off a flood of memories about Temeter and Sara. As the Doctor contemplates how the droid can relate all this, he discusses the Orion War with the service station caretaker. In episodic bursts, the awful truth reveals itself.

Beautifully acted by Kate Terence and Neil Roberts this is a very condensed and intense episode, which offers up some excellent radio drama.

This vignette manages to convey drama, sadness, regret and a little hope. There is also a major hint about the Orion War and the spin-off series 'Cyberman'. I really enjoyed it, especially the short episode that manages to pack so much in.

Sue Davies

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