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Doctor Who: The Hollows of Time by Christopher H Bidmead

01/04/2010. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Doctor Who: The Hollows of Time in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who: The Hollows of Time in the UK

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pub: Big Finish. 2 CDs 100 minutes. Price: CD: 14.99 (UK), Download: 12.99 (UK. ISBN: 978-1-84435-447-4)cast: Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, David Garfield, Trevor Littledale, Susan Sheridan, Hywel John and Victoria Finney.

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When the Doctor and Peri begin their discussion about their recent holiday in the village of Hollowdean, they don't quite know where to start. Something is amiss; their memories are a little foggy. The only thing they are sure of is where they went and who they met. Well, they think they are.

In Hollowdean, they meet up with the Reverend 'Foxy' Foxwell who was one of the famous Bletchley code-crackers. His erstwhile colleague, Professor Stream, is now also in the village and has attracted a cult following for his writings, a 'stream of consciousness'. The Doctor remembers meeting Stream before at Bletchley. Peri meets up with young Simon whose hiding under a table at the village hall jumble sale. Simon is rather fed up, he knows about the sand creatures and found an interesting glowing seashell. No one believes him because he's eleven. Then there is Jan, Foxwell's assistant, who seems a little too close to Steelspecs, supposedly Stream's chauffeur. Peri and the Doctor are aware there is a mystery, but just what is it?

This is a trip back to the 80s when Doctor Who attracted writers who took the concept of family Science Fiction to its limits. Here, the story features an eleven year-old boy, ideal for the younger viewers to relate to. In practise, it would have been a nightmare to cast and produce credibly. There are some bizarre goings-on which result in a rather trippy feeling. At one point, I thought I had fallen into a reality hole where 'Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy' was spreading its improbability around.

This is a real excursion and on the first run through it's rather difficult to get your head around. I'm tempted to say this one should have been left 'lost'. There is a lot of description and wandering through corridors. In this case, its time corridors. The framing device of having the Doctor and Peri discuss the whole tale appears at first to be a clumsy way of introducing the story, although towards the end, the logic of the unreliable narrators begins to make some kind of sense. There are some redeeming features, the ever-ready Colin Baker as Doctor Number 6 contrives to take everything the bizarre plot throws at him and mangles it enough to make us believe in it. The guest star is David Garfield the spooky Stream and he has a wonderful voice. Add in a peculiar ride in a 'car' and there are some exciting and worthwhile elements. Overall, though the annoying small boy (voiced by Susan Sheridan) distracted me and there is a lot of time-wasting in those corridors. Apart from completing the lost collection, I found the whole thing a meander in the stream.

To give this audio its due on the second run and listening to the extras, there were more threads which I picked up. As ever with Big Finish not all the secrets are revealed when you listen through but I would have like to get a little more on account.

Sue Davies

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This book has 54 votes in the sci-fi charts

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