01/11/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies
pub: Audio Go. 5 CDs 350 minutes 5 stories. Price: GBP 10.20 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-60285-958-8). cast: Tom Baker, Susan Jameson, Richard Franklin, Nigel Anthony, Finty Williams, Samuel West, Jan Francis, Carole Boyd, Lorelei Kig and Trevor White.
check out website: www.audiogo.com
The five parts of ‘Demon Quest’ written by Paul Magrs and starring Tom Baker in his return to the part of the Fourth Doctor Who cover a range of historical and other locations. The Doctor and his housekeeper, Mrs Wibbsey (Susan Jameson), traverse time and space and home in time for Christmas dinner.
Although each episode is ostensibly a standalone adventure and can be purchased individually these should be seen as a series as the overall arc is important to each story and concludes in the fifth episode.
‘Relics Of Time’ starts when the Doctor returns for a quiet Christmas at his bolthole nest cottage, as previously featured in ‘Hornets Nest’. His housekeeper, Mrs Wibbsey, is having a bit of a declutter and it’s not long before the Doctor has to attend the village sale to try to retrieve his missing parts of the TARDIS. With only a bag of clues which were swapped for the TARDIS parts, the Doctor must undertake another adventure across time.
In first century Britain, as the Celts are quietly revolting, the Roman yoke is starting to bite. In ‘The Relics Of Time’, the Doctor and Wibbsey must use their diplomacy to construct a truce between the warring villages by meeting the Wizard (Nigel Anthony).
Their next stop in ‘The Demon Of Paris’ is nineteenth century France where the diminutive artist Lautrec (Mark Meadows) and his muse, La Charlotte (Finty Williams), are at the centre of a mystery. The Doctor displays a fine smattering of French and a certain joie de vivre as he goes about re-writing our own historical knowledge.
In the third episode ‘A Shard Of Ice’, the Doctor has recruited Captain Mike Yeats, (Richard Franklin) who has arrived for Christmas to chase down the remaining missing elements of the TARDIS. The Doctor finds it rather tricky to materialise the TARDIS. Landing on a narrow frozen pass, they very nearly push off a passing traveller. Albert Tierman (Samuel West) is an author who doesn’t have a publisher and yet the Doctor offers him a printed copy of his own book from his cache of clues. Another piece of the puzzle clicks but where will it lead next?
‘Starfall’ finds us in New York where we meet an aspiring writer, Buddy Hudson (Trevor White), selling pretzels and dreaming of better times. His girlfriend, Alice Trefusis (Laurel Lefkow), a secretary who takes down the endless terminally boring memoirs of her employer, Mimsey Loyne (Lorelei King), and dreams of escape. When she unexpectedly develops super-powers she sees her chance.
Finally, as Mrs Wibbsey is whisked away just before she has the chance to put the sprouts on a low heat, the Doctor and Yeats must follow the clues and the phone message to ‘Sepulchre’ where the big bad is revealed and much must be done before the mince pies can be enjoyed.
Yet again we have another version of Doctor Who. The Doctor is perfectly able to be reworked into many incarnations and this rather whimsical tale with a companion with grey hair rather than blond highlights is just another aspect of the character. As writer Paul Magrs is so fond of creating the unexpectedly practical women with hidden strengths (see his series of novels about Brenda and Effie and the amazing Iris Wildthyme for Big Finish), it is no surprise that Mrs Wibbsey proves to be a resourceful and likeable character. The return of Mike Yeats gives us a third narrator which rings the changes in the different audios and gives another point of view and each story offers also the perspective of one of the supporting characters. Although it is more than an audio book, this is not a full audio play and its needs its multiple narrators to vary the pace.
This is a fun adventure and although I never really felt that the Doctor was really in peril, it is very entertaining and uses its three leads to nice effect. The story arc is good and the whole thing reaches a satisfying conclusion.
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