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Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles - Tales From The Vault by Jonathan Morris

01/11/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles - Tales From The Vault in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles - Tales From The Vault in the UK

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pub: Big Finish. 1 CDs 60 minute story. Price: CD: GBP 10.99 (UK), Download: GBP 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-576-1). cast: Daphne Ashbrook, Yee Jee Tso, Katy Manning, Wendy Padbury, Peter Purves and Mary Tamm.

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What do you do with two companions from the ‘Doctor Who’ movie mired in copyright issues? Why you bring them back as completely different characters in a new story called ‘Tales From The Vault’ because that’s what Big Finish like to do. So here we are as Grace Holloway (Daphne Ashbrook) and Chang Lee (Yee Jee Tso) return and there new names and characters are Captain Ruth Matheson and Warrant Officer Charlie Sato.

Ruth is the keeper of the Museum of Terrors otherwise the Unit Vault, where the extra-terrestrial treasures are kept. Charlie is on a visit to somewhere he didn’t even know existed. There’s a chance of a job and a forget-me pill if he doesn’t take it.

Here is a potential spin-off from a spin-off, with ‘Warehouse 13’ meeting ‘Doctor Who’ half-way. As Ruth takes Charlie on a personal guided tour around the artefacts he meets by way of different recorded media some of the Doctor’s companions, each with a very important story to tell.

Jo Grant (Katy Manning) is the first we hear from as she struggles to grapple with a cassette recorder and tea-making for a demanding Third Doctor. She also tells a tale of an army long coat with strange qualities.

As Romana (the Mary Tamm carnation) recounts her story about a visit to an auction house to see a mysterious painting, we start to think there is more to the Vault than at first glance.

After Zoë Heriot (Wendy Padbury), whose memories are enclosed within a crystal, tells her tale of the Doctor foiling a criminal gang, in itself a very slight story we know we are leading up to something bigger.

Finally, space pilot Stephen Taylor (Peter Purves), speaks from a wax cylinder with a dire warning. And the game is on.

Nicely put together ‘Tales From The Vault’ is a good example of Big Finish creating a product we didn’t even know we wanted and using its resources to excellent effect. Yet again they have come up with a clever little framing format and what I thought was going to be a series of discrete tales turns out to be a intricate narrative with a satisfying conclusion. I liked the two actors and they seem to bounce off each other as characters that could if demand was there, be the new Mulder and Scully, Myka and Peter, Audrey and Nathan, I see a pattern forming.
This might be a ‘Companion Chronicle’ but as usual it does more than any old audio book. It contrives with very few actors to set up a nice drama with a good pay off.

Sue Davies

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