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Dr Who: The Companion Chronicles: Transit of Venus by Jacqueline Rayner

01/07/2009. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Dr WhoThe Companion Chronicles Transit of Venus in the USA - or Buy Dr WhoThe Companion Chronicles Transit of Venus in the UK

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pub: Big Finish. 60 minute 1 CD with extras. Price: CD: 8.99; Download: 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-356-9) cast: William Russell and Ian Hallard.

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It is 1770 and Ian Chesterton, along with the Doctor, is on the voyage of the Endeavour having been rescued from the ocean. The crew thinks the men are from Venus - if only they knew. They've been separated from Barbara and Susan. Ian knows he is headed for a brave new world and is often alone with his thoughts. Although they are travelling with distinguished personages, including Captain Cook, Ian is very soon convinced that Dr Joseph Banks, famed naturalist, is a murderer and that he stands every chance of being his next victim.

Told in the style of the 1960s Doctor, this is the first time that we get to hear Ian, as played by William Russell, tell his own story. Before it became the fashion to keep up with the trendy young things, it was thought that the Doctor should have a range of companions. This translated into two stuffy teachers and a young girl who happened to be his granddaughter. The Ian Chesterton science teacher character gets to explain the 'real' science of the universe as often as he is allowed. Barbara was his colleague and friend but their love remained unrequited in the series. These days it's all about the pairing off of companions, the Doctor and probably his dog if they could find a female K-9.

This is a more sedate and thoughtful story. Moving at the pace of the great ocean voyage, we get to find out a lot about history of Captain Cook's voyage. We also get to hear Ian's own ponderings on his role, his adventures and his relationship with Barbara.

This is a painless way to absorb a little history albeit slightly distorted and a charming story from one of the original companions. Sadly, there will be no reunion for Ian and Barbara as actress Jacqueline Hill died in 1993.

Sue Davies

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