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Doctor Who Monthly Series: Castle of Fear by Alan Barnes

01/02/2010. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Doctor Who Monthly Series: Castle of Fear in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who Monthly Series: Castle of Fear in the UK

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pub: Big Finish. 120 minutes 2 CDs. Price: CD: £14.99 (UK), Download: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-430-6) cast: Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, John Sessions, Joe Thomas, Richard Cotton, Susan Brown, Teddy Kempner and Trevor Cooper.

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'Castle Of Fear' is the first of a trilogy the Doctor and Nyssa return to the sleepy old village of Stockbridge, previously featured in 'Doctor Who Magazine'.

They are having a relaxing time at the castle in 1899 watching the traditional mummers play. But something is not quite right. There are echoes of the past feeding through to the present. It comes to a head in the mummers' performance when the dragon slays St. George and someone calls for a Doctor, with a blue box one who is a Lord of Time. Which is odd, because the Doctor has never been to Stockbridge at a time before 1899. He decides to investigate by going back into the Dark Ages. Both the Doctor and Nyssa are quite unprepared for what happens next.

Going back a few hundred years, the castle is home to some rather unwashed peasants and something nasty in the keep that is not from this world. The returning knight who owns the castle finds that he must battle more than the rising damp to get control of his holdings. The Doctor is on the case, though, and even a spot of torture doesn't put him off.

This audio is packed with jokes and sly references to 'Monty Python's Holy Grail'. (Davison was King Arthur in the London stage version of 'Spamalot' - there's déjà-lot.) Surprisingly, there are not any clashing coconuts for horses but everything else is spot on. One of the characters is called Maud the Withered. Yes, really. It's not a dramatic piece and once again it is played for laughs rather than screams.

Davison and Sarah Sutton blissfully bluff their way through the increasingly insane plot line. They are joined by Bridget Spears (from 'Torchwood: Children Of Earth') and John Sessions.

This episode leads directly into the next one 'Eternal Summer' so don't expect a happy ending just yet.

'The Three Companions: Part 8' is also included along with the standard interviews and discussions that form part of the Big Finish package. The extras are always entertaining but the extra story is somewhat disjointed and hard to locate on the download. It's still good to hear the Brig though and happy to hear more of him.

Sue Davies

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