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Dr Who Companion Chronicles: Mahogany Murders by Andy Lane

01/08/2009. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Mahogany Murders in the USA - or Buy Mahogany Murders in the UK

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pub: Big Finish. Price: 60 minute 1 CD Price: CD: 8.99 (UK), Download: 7.99. ISBN: 978-1-84435-380-4. cast: Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter.

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'The Companion Chronicles' started quietly with some of the well-known companions from the 1960s and 1970s. From this fairly inauspicious start, it has branched out interpreting the word 'Companion' in any way it sees fit. It just depends of the actors are available. Doing this has produced some unique dramas and some stories that are only loosely linked with the 'Doctor Who' adventures.

Jago and Litefoot made their one appearance in the classic Tom Baker story 'The Talons Of Weng Chiang'. This was back in the heyday of the classic series. An Earth-bound adventure this nevertheless involved some off-worldly shenanigans including a time cabinet and a villain who like to suck the lifeblood out of maidens.

Nice. Professor Litefoot is a pathologist who dealt with the bodies found in the Thames. Henry Gordon Jago is a lower class fellow who owned the theatre in which the villain was performing. The opening of the audio implies they have continued in the adventure s since the amazing dematerialisation of the TARDIS.

They meet in an ale house to discuss their latest escapade which seems to have resulted in the destruction of a favourite jacket and a near-death experience. It does not, however, include the Doctor who is totally absent. This leaves a neat opening for yet another spin-off of Victorian adventures involving this likeable pair.

This time it is Professor Litefoot who first makes the acquaintance of an apparently lifeless corpse which not only gets up and walks away from the mortuary slab but turns out to be made of wood.

Eat your heart out, Pinocchio! The pair, acting almost independently, uncover a dastardly plot and together they tell us the listener all the ins and outs of their terrible tale. There are the inevitable consequences of telling a story to each other that they already know. Indeed, at one point one of them does pipe up with, 'I know all this. I was there!' Apart from this, the two characters are likeable and their fruity voices are the perfect instrument for this rather baroque tale.

As an extra there is a short interview with director Lisa Bowerman and actors Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter. The latter are getting slightly on in years now reminisce about old times with the Doctor and their delight at this return.

This is not by any stretch a Doctor Who adventure but more a tale closely related to the kind that parents tell their children if they want them to behave, a bogeyman with everlasting life and dark intent. However, by the nature of its telling it loses its dramatic impact. We know the pair are not dead, they are meeting in a tavern not the after-life. There is not any real tension because of this and it becomes interesting rather than gripping. It is better in the telling than the actual content which says a lot for the actors' abilities to make at least a synthetic silk purse out of an upmarket rare breed sow's ear.

Sue Davies

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