Iris vs. the Narrator – Find and Replace reviewed

Attention now turns to Find and Replace a Jo Grant Companion Chronicle in which Katy Manning plays both Jo and also time travelling adventuress Iris Wildthyme; Later she also gets to voice the Third Doctor. This story is written by Paul Magrs; as I have said before I don’t like everything Paul does but I do like some of it. This story garnered a level of attention when released and I was concerned I would not enjoy it despite the general consensus being that it is one of the classics. So, dear reader, what did I think of it?

The Plot

The time is Christmas Eve 2010 and Jo Grant finds herself stuck in a lift with Huxley who, it turns out, is a Narrator from the planet Verbatim Six played by Alex Lowe. Narrators latch onto a person and begin to narrate their story – not always to the benefit of the target (or victim)!

Huxley sets out to tell Jo that she never worked for UNIT, not met the Doctor. Instead she has false memories implanted by MIAOW (Ministry of Incursions and Ontological Wonders) which cover her time working for Iris Wildthyme who is also being drawn into this surreal alternate world along with her double-decker red London bus (the #22 to Putney Common).

The only resolution is to travel back in time, back to the 70s and the Doctor!

Needless to say it all turns out well in the end though meeting the Doctor again is very painful for Jo, particularly as he appears to have masterminded everything, including trying to wipe himself from Jo’s mind for ‘her own safety’.

The Production

Katy is wonderful as both older Jo (who I much prefer to the often shallow character from the 70s) and Iris. Alex Lowe himself makes the point that the genius of Huxley to audio is that he is meant to narrate and so gets writers past some of the dialogue tricks they need to employ to set the scene for the listener.

Overall

I liked this a lot more than I thought I might and it is a decent story of the meaning of memories and emotion. Unlike other Jo Grant Companion Chronicles this is set in the time of the present Jo not an idealised copy of the 70s version and is a much more interesting person for it.

I was also not at all put off by Jo as Iris and separated the two in my mind. The silliness and fun-poking side of Iris that can grate was also well bottled up.

For me this tale has flaws, one is the Doctor himself seems out of character which is unfortunate as that is pivotal to the story.

For me then good but not quite a classic. Comments?

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