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Doctor Who: Short Trips

01/03/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Doctor Who: Short Trips - Volume 1 in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who: Short Trips - Volume 1 in the UK

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Doctor Who: Short Trips - Volume 1. pub: Big Finish. 2 CDs 120 minute story. Price: CD: GBP 10.99 (UK), Download: GBP 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-547-1) cast: William Russell, David Troughton, Katy Manning, Louise Jameson, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sophie Aldred and India Fisher.

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There are eight stories on this ‘Short Trips Volume 1’ with many more to follow. Many of these stories are by writers new to Big Finish and there are some surprising ones here. The writers are joined by some very good quality voice artists. All of these are well established as characters with Big Finish either as ‘Companion Chronicles’ or as actors in full audio productions. One writer has also a fulfilled a personal goal. The Sixth Doctor wrote his own story and reads it here.

The stories are sequential form 1 to 8 and each try to tease out an aspect of the Doctor they refer to so that we can relate them to the period the show was originally broadcast so that they fit in with the sort of themes that were important in the 1960s to 1990s.

Rise And Fall by George Mann. Read by William Russell

This might be sub-titled two characters in a landscape. William Russell gives a moving rendition of this poignant story as he recounts a visit by the Doctor and his companions to a planet where they could not connect to the inhabitants.

A Stain of Red in the Sand by David A McEwan. Read by David Troughton

A series of vivid images is created in this story where the Second Doctor is more absent than present as a girl recounts a kitchen sink drama where an alien landscape is the view from her sculptor boyfriend’s flat.

A True Gentleman by Jamie Hailstone. Read by Katy Manning

A young boy recalls his encounter with the Third Doctor after he gets a flat tyre on his bicycle.

Death-Dealer by Damian Sawyer. Read by Louise Jameson

When Leela discovers the power of money and why you should always ask the price and what you are buying.

The Deep by Ally Kennen. Read by Peter Davison

Always be wary of anyone who claims they can fix something. Nyssa gets her hands on the chameleon circuit to surprising effect.

The Wings Of A Butterfly by and read by Colin Baker

Beware of cause and effect and always, always make sure your trousers don’t fall down.

Police And Shreeves by Adam Smith. Read by Sophie Aldred

There’s an alien in the kitchen but the Doctor and Ace need to have words about her attitude to Earth.

Running Out Of Time by Dorothy Koomson. Read by India Fisher

A man without memories is tracked by the Eighth Doctor. There is something he needs to know, before it is too late.

So much is dependent not only on the story to conjure up images bit for the teller to breathe out the vision, sharpen it into 3D and expand the listener’s mind, The stand out memorable stories for me are both the opening one for William Russell’s diction and presence and the intriguing story and the story about the Second Doctor which is a colourful and poetic vision brought to stunning life by son of the Doctor, David Troughton. The one I disliked the most was read by Katy Manning and featured the Third Doctor. I never liked the Pertwee accompaniments of Bessie (get a Jag for heavens sake) and now it also reminds me of Brum in the ITV series of that name. Here Manning sounds too much like Jimmy Crankie for my taste. I liked the story but I found the voice irritating. The funniest and in many ways timeliest is by Colin Baker, the superb farce which involves subtle timing is perfect for the short story format.

However, all the stories have a unique selling point, the reference to their particular Doctor. Knowing which one is being referenced does enhance our enjoyment of the story.

This is a well thought out production. You may be tearful at the conclusion of certain stories. Call it nostalgia, there is a variety of emotions to be experienced here and, as I said above, not all of them positive. On the whole, though, this an interesting venture which should get a new audience for the ‘Short Trips’ format. These stories are completely new to audio and all are submitted for consideration as part of a competition last year. It certainly created a lot of interest and comment on this series which lives up to its pre-publicity and if you want to try some Big Finish this might be a good point of entry.

Sue Davies

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