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Doctor Who: Short Trips Volume 3 by Simon Miller, Kate Orman, Dave Curran, Juliet Boyd, Mathilde Madden, M Deacon, J Middleton & C Wraight, Andrew Cartmel and Bev Conway

1/10/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Doctor Who: Short Trips Volume 3 in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who: Short Trips Volume 3 in the UK

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pub: Big Finish. 2 CDs 120 minute story. Price: CD: GBP12.99 (UK), Download: GBP10.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-549-5). cast: William Russell, David Troughton, Katy Manning, Louise Jameson, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sophie Aldred, India Fisher and Nicholas Briggs.

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Once again the Big Finish team deliver a series of short stories on audio that feature the eight Doctors.

In ‘Seven To One’ by Simon Miller which is spread across the audio in seven sections we follow the trials of the Doctor in all his incarnations as he seeks to undo a puzzle and avoid a nasty trap. William Russell opens and closes with Nicholas Briggs taking on the other six doctors in scarily accurate portrayals of Number Six and Four in particular.

A fifties American housewife with an urge to write a fantastic story finds herself living it out in ‘The Five Dimensional Man’ by Kate Orman. Read by David Troughton, we meet Betty who finds Zoë in her living room one afternoon and is whisked away by the Second Doctor. This has some excellent period details and may create feelings not only of longing for ‘Mad Men’ to come back but also the desire to read ‘Tales Of Wonder’.

Jo has always had a soft heart so when she takes pity on a little robot with a bad leg it can only lead to severe consequences in ‘Pop-Up’ by Dave Curran. This also has some nice period details with references to the BBC micro computer and punched cards. Warning: this story may make you feel old.

The Fourth Doctor is delighted to get to the greatest show in the world, the circus of P.T. Barnum. But someone else has his eye on ‘The Wondrous Box by Juliet Boyd and it’s the sharp ears of Sarah Jane that hear the sound of the TARDIS being stolen! Although Louise Jameson reads this, it is Sarah Jane who she beautifully evokes along with Tom Baker’s Doctor. In this we learn that elephants never forget and that we will miss Sarah Jane Smith.

It’s a stormy night but there is no reason for the ‘Wet Walls’ by Mathilde Madden inside the crumbling mansion house. Only Lady Catherine who has been hidden away by her faithful servant Gretchen can see them until Peri arrives. The Fifth Doctor must uncover the mystery before the house is destroyed. It’s going to be a bumpy night.

In ‘Murmurs Of Earth’ by M. Deacon, J. Middleton and C. Wraight we find that Peri has a headache and landing on a planet full of identical naked people isn’t helping. Of course, when the Sixth Doctor intervenes, it’s going to be a pain for all concerned. This is a highly visual tale with Colin Baker doing a Peri, may she forgive him.

It isn’t safe to walk by the Red River in ‘The Riparian Ripper’ by Andrew Cartmel. Someone is attacking people, leaving them badly wounded, but how can this random group be connected? The Seventh Doctor and Ace cannot resist investigating who or what is attacking them. Being very clever suits the Seventh Doctor and Ace provides her technical ability.

There’s always someone who might want to make some money out of a big blue box that moves and in ‘All The Fun Of The Fair’ by Bev Conway we meet that someone whose calling himself John Smith. He has a travelling blue box which belongs to the Eighth Doctor but where is the Doctor? India Fisher narrates the tale but it’s not the posh bird we meet in this story but the ‘common’ Lucie Miller.

Splitting up the first story around the whole audio creates a running serial and a running joke which made me hoot every time I listened to it. ‘Look of the size of that, Doctor,’ as Jamie says. The other stories have been chosen to suit the personality of the individual Doctors and there is plenty taking place within the fairly short reading time. It’s not just read out, there is excellent sound design and music which enhances the experience, especially effective through headphones, although the running water in one of the stories was a little too realistic for me.

This selection of stories read by actors associated with the role is once again full of little nuggets of goodness. The only criticism I have is the lack of Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann on here. If it is possible it would be great to also get Tom Baker onto the ‘Short Trips’ stories as well.

Sue Davies

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