Jubilee – a classic reviewed

JubileeThe fortieth main range release from Big Finish was Rob Shearman’s Sixth Doctor story Jubilee  a tale that famously became the seed for the Ninth Doctor story Dalek. Putting to one side both  the fact that this story was uniquely selected (so far) as the trigger for a TV episode this story is, in it’ own right, a classic.

Come now to the glorious English Empire as I discuss Jubilee and identify just why this story is a classic. There will be spoilers…

The Story

The ever informative Big Finish product page tells us:

Hurrah! The deadly Daleks are back! Yes, those loveable tinpot tyrants have another plan to invade our world. Maybe this time because they want to drill to the Earth’s core. Or maybe because they just feel like it.

And when those pesky pepperpots are in town, there is one thing you can be sure of. There will be non-stop, high-octane mayhem in store. And plenty of exterminations!

But never fear. The Doctor is on hand to sort them out. Defender of the Earth, saviour of us all. With his beautiful assistant, Evelyn Smythe, by his side, he will fight once again to uphold the beliefs of the English Empire. All hail the glorious English Empire!

Now that sounds like a jubilee worth celebrating, does it not?

Usefully the product page also fills in the link to Dalek with the following:

The story that became ‘Dalek’ on TV. Although the televised episode in 2005 (starring Christopher Eccleston) ended up being very different in many important ways, this is the core of the idea that Russell T. Davies wanted writer Rob Shearman to develop. Find out how it all started…

The story starts with a temporal anomaly of some sort that ends with the Doctor and Evelyn in a world that resulted from a Dalek attack at the start of the twentieth century that was foiled by the Doctor and the beautiful Evelyn. The truth is that the idea of the Doctor and Evelyn are being used as propaganda and the current regime, the superbly played Nigel and Miriam Rochester (Martin Jarvis and Rosalind Ayres), are keen to stay in power.

We discover a very dark story behind the scenes – the Rochesters deny that Sixie can be the Doctor as the real Doctor is held prisoner in the Tower of London. We later find him being held prisoner and with no legs so as to stop him escaping.

Darker still is the presence of one last Dalek, kept tortured and unable to wreak revenge or to self-destruct.

Slowly we learn that history split in two and the Daleks from 1903 displace to the present, we have confrontation, politics, scheming and betrayal. Eventually we get the ‘it never happened’ ending.

The Story Telling

This is a wonderfully deceptive, dark tale crafted with care by Robert Shearman and any minor gripes at the ending are irrelevant compared to the originality of the plot and the performances of everyone involved. After this story it was impossible to look on Colin’s Doctor with any thing other than new-found admiration.

Although the way elements were evolved for Dalek this is easy to overlook and the medium / director / story arc all left their impression on the TV production. That is not the topic of this review.

Final Thoughts

This is quality through and through and is on most lists of top episodes. It is clearly a classic.

What do you think? Essential listening or over-rated? Let me know

Tony

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