01/10/2010. Contributed by Sue Davies
Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles: Echoes Of Grey by John Dorney. pub: Big Finish. 60 minute CD. Price: CD: GBP 8.99 (UK); Download: GBP 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-484-9) cast: Wendy Padbury and Emily Pithon.
check out web site www.BigFinish.com
Zoë Heriot (voiced by Wendy Padbury) can’t remember her adventure with the Doctor which is odd because Zoë can remember everything. Her photographic memory means she can forget nothing but there is a hole in her memory. How tempting then to meet someone who offers her a quick fix to find the missing pieces and her new best friend, Allie, wants Zoë to specifically remember the Achromatics.
A prompt from the machine provided by Allie Munroe takes Zoë back in her mind to the Whittaker Institute in Australia with the Doctor and Jamie. Arriving in the TARDIS, they find themselves in an empty sealed hospital ward. Every bed is empty and with all patients’ notes indicating they are apparently cured of untreatable disease and discharged. But all is not as it seems in this perfect hospital and, as the team are drawn into the mystery, they find out the cure may be worse than the disease.
With this ‘Companion Chronicle’, there is some input from Allie (voiced by Emily Pithon) but mostly the story is relived by Zoë complete with impersonations of the Second Doctor and Jamie. He would have been better served by doing his own lines but I understand the needs, budgetary and otherwise, to allow Zoë to relive it. This is a minor niggle also because the truly is truly impressive in its scope and presentation. It manages to be thoroughly creepy in a behind-the-sofa way. In fact, I don’t think it would have been broadcastable in the original series because it ranks alongside the TV episode ‘The Empty Child’ for downright chilling moments.
Wendy Padbury manages to convey the menace brilliantly whilst maintaining her own bright and cheerful, geeky character. As she plays her fifty year-old self, she is able to express more maturity and self-awareness outside of the actual adventure and this context makes the ensuing tale very absorbing.
It builds slowly but as Zoë and Jamie interact in their usual argumentative way with the Doctor treating them as naughty schoolchildren. They investigate in the manner of interested outsiders but are soon embroiled in the on-going story, as are we. It builds the menace in a considered way and does not rush into the final wrap-up either. There is plenty of meat on the plate and nothing is as straightforward as we might think and Zoë's choice at the end is rather poignant.
There are no extras on this disc but the story stands up well on its own and yet again it repays re-listening and I defy you not to have a tear in your eye at the end.
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