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Doctor Who: The Fourth Wall by John Dorney

01/04/2012. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Doctor Who: The Fourth Wall in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who: The Fourth Wall in the UK

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pub: Big Finish. 2 CDs 1204minute story. Price: CD: GBP10.99 (UK), Download: GBP12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-605-8). cast: Colin Baker, Lisa Greenwood, Julian Wadham, Yasmin Bannerman, Hywel Morgan, Martin Hutson, Tilly Gaunt, Kim Wall and Henry Devas.

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If ‘The Fourth Wall’ is respected in drama, all is well. Once it is breached, the audience is unsettled and may even feel in danger.

The Doctor (Colin Baker) and Flip (Lisa Greenwood) are having an afternoon off. The Sixth Doctor had been hoping to enjoy an afternoon’s cricket and introduce Flip to the joys of this truly universal sport. He’s got an intriguing screen in the TARDIS which allows him access to points in history including some rather good test matches.

A forced landing causes Flip to disappear and the Doctor finds he is on a planet where a new technology is being tried. This new kind of television is something special and the actors and crew have been invited to celebrate the launch. The inventor Doctor Helen Shepherd (Yasmin Bannerman, TV ‘Who’ and ‘Torchwood’ as DCI Swanson) is really proud of her technological breakthrough. Media producer Augustus Scullop (Julian Wadham, ‘The Minister Of Chance’) has been having a bad time and this is his last chance to make a splash before his finances completely fold. What he doesn’t know is Doctor Shepherd may have made a few shortcuts.

While the Doctor balances cocktails, Flip has landed in an alien and blasted landscape. She meets a woman who screams a lot and a man who just wants to save everybody. It looks very much like someone has made a drama out of a crisis.

Flip and the Doctor enjoy a nicely balanced relationship. Its more indulgent uncle and excitable niece than anything but they also have a great laugh. Writer John Dorney offers us a multi-player narrative as we try to keep up with the parallel stories which eventually must collide. There is a great comedy double act in the porcine characters of Chimbly and Junior which counterpoints the complicated comings and goings of the Doctor and the plot. As usual anything with Colin Baker in is in full-throttle and the new companion is a plucky sort. No screaming for her, Flip is always problem solving, proving resourceful and intelligent she is much more than appearances might suggest.

I’m really enjoying this new series of adventure with Flip. She first appeared ‘The Crimes Of Thomas Brewster’ but became a companion in ‘The Curse Of Davros’ which remains the top adventure for me simply for its delightful audacity. ‘The Fourth Wall’ offers lots of new elements and proves to be a full and satisfying adventure with lots of twists and turns and some fun although sadly no actual cricket.

Sue Davies

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