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Doctor Who: Death In Blackpool by Alan Barnes

01/02/2010. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Doctor Who: Death In Blackpool in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who: Death In Blackpool in the UK

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pub: Big Finish. 60 minutes 1 CD. Price: CD: 10.99 (UK), download: 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-401-6) cast: Paul McGann, Sheridan Smith, Helen Lederer, David Schofield, Jon Glover and Harriet Kershaw.

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It's no secret that this is the last we will hear of Lucie Millar in the Christmas Special release of the Eighth Doctor Adventures: 'Death In Blackpool'. Sheridan Smith is appearing in 'Legally Blonde' in London's West End and she's leaving Big Finish with a bang.

Lucie Millar wants a Christmas in Blackpool with her family. As her description of it sounds vaguely like being neighbours to the Royle Family I'm not sure I can see why the Doctor would want to go. He's an observer and partaker of the human condition though or maybe he just fancies a turkey dinner. So Blackpool it is. The space-time continuum has other ideas and, as he pokes his head out of the TARDIS, it's not the Blackpool Tower he sees but the car park of the services on the M62.

This place doesn't have any happy memories for the Doctor or Lucie as, in 1974, it was a scene of an attempted alien invasion (see 'The Horror Of Glam Rock'). Mind you, at least Lucie got to meet her Auntie Pat when she was young and trendy and still had dreams. Funnily enough here comes Aunty Pat, but things have changed for Pat in a way never expected or dreamed of by Lucie and she's not in the loop about why and how (see 'The Zygon Who Fell To Earth'). The Doctor knows and continues to avoid telling Lucie.

The three decide to carry on to Blackpool in Pat's car and acquire a drunken unemployed Santa who fits the bill of taking in the needy for Christmas. It's only when they get to Lucie's doorstep that they realise they can't go in as Lucie is already there. They've arrived a year too early and she hasn't gone on her travels with the Doctor. Travels that will change her life.

As this is the final tale of Lucie Millar we need a proper send-off and I'm more than happy with the witty climax to the team's adventures. The supporting characters are excellent, especially the portrayal of Father Christmas who is unwelcome at Christmas. There are very few additional characters which puts the onus on the main characters. It is tightly constructed and doesn't rely on prior knowledge of Aunty Pat's previous history in the audios as all is explained. It's a clever and unexpected end to one of my favourite companions.

Time for a change certainly as two of Big Finish's companions depart. It's almost reflecting the change on the TV as one rule ends as another begins but Big Finish will continue to operate in their own alternate and entirely satisfying universe. I'm confident that they will be pulling more rabbits from hats and coming up with yet more variations on companions.

With this final tale, which pulls in different threads and drags on your heartstrings we wish a poignant farewell and wonder who the Eighth Doctor will select as a new companion. I'm free and I can run very well in audio adventures!

Sue Davies

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