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Doctor Who: Industrial Evolution by Eddie Robson

1/07/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Doctor Who: Industrial Evolution in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who: Industrial Evolution in the UK

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pub: Big Finish. 2 CDs 120 minute story. Price: CD: GBP 14.99 (UK), Download: GBP 12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-545-7). cast: Colin Baker, Maggie Stables, John Pickard, Rory Kinnear, Warren Brown, Joannah Tincey, Hugh Ross and Paul Chahidi.

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Thomas Brewster has a job and he’s good at it. The Doctor and Evelyn have dropped him off in England during the industrial revolution. He misses the amazing travelling life he shared with the Doctor and Evelyn but is happy to be working even if it is in nineteenth century Lancashire.

Meanwhile, Thomas (John Pickard) has made a friend in Clara Stretton (Joanna Tincey). Although ostensibly sketching the working environment, she has been secretly investigating the working conditions the men are forced to suffer but an accident in the factory brings Thomas’s erstwhile companions running to help. It seems they were just around the corner after all. Thomas strongly suspects it’s because the Doctor doesn’t trust him but it seems something suspicious is going on in this factory.

The Doctor (Colin Baker) and Evelyn (Maggie Stables) are staying with the local MP, the father of Clara. Robert Stretton (Hugh Ross) who originally brought his daughter to meet the factory owner Samuel Belfrage (Rory Kinnear) with a view to marriage. That doesn’t seem to have any chance as Samuel appears to be the shy retiring type.

Pretty soon things are getting lively in the factory as the accident rate seems to be well above the national average.

This is a two-pronged adventure as the Doctor and Evelyn split from Thomas to follow what they think is an entirely different lead. Samuel Belfrage as played by sought after Rory Kinnear is a delightfully louche, laid-back character who has more to hide than collection of classical marbles.

As a four-part adventure, at some points it felt stretched to cover all of those 25 minute episodes. It is, of course, always good to hear the Doctor and Evelyn together but there doesn’t seem a whole lot for her to do in this. The character of Thomas is still the not-quite-honest tyke who has an eye on the main chance and he’s younger so can take the more action-orientated part. Really Evelyn should be in the more cerebral adventures where she is allowed to use her very able brain.

The subject of technology and the workplace seems to be favoured topic of Eddie Robson, a writer who I feel might like to take an axe to his iphone (other weapons and other phones are available). It is already documented that the Luddite rioters in England were afraid that machines would take their jobs away from them. This story uses that fear and the dangers of working with machinery into another twisted tale which adds some extra-terrestrial spice and some original life-forms to the mix.

Sue Davies

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