Monday, 23 December 2013


Are you aching for more Doctor Who? Have you, (like me) exhausted nearly the whole list of Big Finish titles? Do you want more?

Six of these articles will be spent reviewing BBV audio dramas. It was a commercial enterprise founded to serve Doctor Who fans who were, like you, aching for more Time Lord content between the broadcasts of Survival and Rose. BBV produced a number of “almost” Doctor Who titles, featuring Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred as “The Professor” and “Ace”. The resemblance in these characters were so similar, that the BBC had to step in and make BBV change the characters to something that were nothing like the Doctor and Ace. Before this happened though, BBV managed to give fans six gorgeous stories that were Doctor Who in everything but title and theme music. In this article, I’ll be analyzing Island of Lost Souls.

The Professor (ah hell, we all know it’s the Doctor, so why not just call him that) and Ace arrive in World War II (again), but this time, they’re in Greenland as opposed to the usual London-under-Siege or Nazi Germany. They meet an Ally Base and are suspected to be spies (the usual). Then people start transforming into vile monsters, which means only the Doctor (not the Professor) can save them. The plot sounds familiar eh? Well, it should. It reminded me of The Seeds of Doom at first (and every Nazy Doctor Who story out there), but don’t worry, the drama and direction picks up in no time.

What is odd about this story and what shouldn’t really come as a surprise to you is that the Doctor is never actually referred by name (or title I should say). Ace introduces him as ‘Professor’, which doubles as an in-joke considering that’s what she usually calls him. ‘Doctor’ is purposely never used and the title ‘Professor’ is used only once by the other characters which also makes perfect sense in the context of the story as people with titles are more often referred to as such.

This story is written by Mark Gatiss, a writer whose TV stories have been a hit-and-miss over the years, until the marvel that was The Crimson Horror. This story feels like one of those wins. It’s not as good as Horror, but it’s clearly one of his better ones and that is evident in the style used here: Historic setting, claustrophobic atmosphere etc. These have always been Gatiss’ power points.

This story also stars Nick Briggs and Mark Gatiss in the actual tale. How cool is that? It truly feels like a Doctor Who story. Don’t take this as lipservice from me, it really is that good. The sound effects are brilliant, save the start-up theme at the beginning/end which for obvious reasons had to replace the traditional Doctor Who theme. This is perhaps one of the only bits of the story that might put you off even before you get to the actual plot, but power on through!

Next, we arrive at the stars of this story – Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred. I don’t really have to praise any of them because as some who have already watched their television escapades or their audio adventures, the Seventh Doctor and Ace were made for each other. They have one of the best chemistries of any Doctor (Professor)/companion in the show’s history and it shows in this story as well in the form of a short and sweet exchange between them near the beginning all concerning a cold Ace has picked up. In case you didn’t know, Greenland is the cold, icy one. If you were looking for the green, lash one, you’d have to go to Iceland. I know! The naming has never made much sense to me either – until this story! The Doctor actually explains why the naming is opposite. Fantastic for people like me (and maybe you)!

Though most people don’t consider these releases canon, I do as there is nothing to argue that these aren’t the Doctor and Ace from Doctor Who freezing their asses off in 1940s Greenland. I consider most audios and all television series as canon, unless they contain information that differs from previous titles and I can’t explain that away. Even though these stories are not called Doctor Who in body, they are Doctor Who in heart and soul. If you’re like me and you ache for as much Doctor Who as you can get, the BBV audio adventures – codename The Time Travelers – have a few extra releases you’ll find as entertaining as I did, if not more so.

Lastly, I should mention that the cover at the top is not the original. Instead, Deviant-art artist Hisi79, customized the old and boring one into a retro Big Finish style cover. You can check out more of his work by going to his page (click his name in the paragraph) and be amazed at how fans do Doctor Who.

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