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Doctor Who The Cold Equations by Simon Guerrier

1/07/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles: The Cold Equations in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles: The Cold Equations in the UK

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Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles: The Cold Equations by Simon Guerrier. pub: Big Finish. 1 CD 60 minute story. Price: CD: GBP 8.99 (UK), Download: GBP 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-510-5). cast: Peter Purves and Tom Allen.

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Stephen and Oliver are dying. They have no chance of escape. Space offers only its cold and a certain death. Now is surely the time for Oliver to tell Stephen his secret, the reason he was so keen to leave Earth in the 1960s. It is time for the truth and as Stephen starts to tell the story of how they were trapped aboard space wreckage we can only wonder what secrets will emerge.

Arriving on a space station with the Doctor and Stephen, Oliver is charmed by the view of space but the planet they are orbiting is ancient Earth, full of artefacts and junk. The aliens they meet are merchants who want to exploit it for the scrap value.

Split into two episodes, the first being ‘The Perpetual Bond’ reviewed last month, this is a classic two-hander as the two companions face their death. As Stephen narrates the action he also echoes the First Doctor in quite an uncanny way.

This is a slow moving quite thoughtful piece which allows some expansion of an underused part of Stephen, his ability as a space pilot. It is a very moving piece as it examines the nature of life, death, love and loyalty. There are not really any bug-eyed monsters but there are moral dilemmas and a little bit of business about how time makes fools of all law makers. I really loved this and bringing in another character like Oliver allows Stephen, a post-modern man to be developed.

With a space defined plot rather than any fancy time travel, this relies heavily on science. I can only guess whether all the laws quoted are accurate - call the emergency physicist, nurse! It also strikes me that writer Simon Guerrier might just be a fan of ‘MacGyver’ or ‘The A-Team’. I’m just going to leave that out there for you.

With the ‘cold’ calculations so clearly enunciated by Peter Purves, there are plenty of spine-tingling moments. Sometimes it is hard to believe all I am really listening to is a story. The acting is enhanced well by the sound and music that is woven into it. Also the effect of almost having the Doctor in it cannot be over-estimated. There is also nothing quite like the original music from the era of the First Doctor. The eerie sucking noises in the music are what send me scuttling behind the sofa. You might like to join me.

Sue Davies

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