September gave us the first ever Big Finish story (ok in tandem with AudioGo) set in the world of nu-Who. The story in question is the Ninth Doctor Destiny of the Doctor adventure Night of the Whisper. Nick Briggs takes on most of the roles in this action packed adventure (no monsters in sight) with support from John Schwab. Writers Cavan Scott and Mark Wright have already written for the Eleventh Doctor so how did this story work?
First let’s set the scene:
New Vegas, 23rd Century – a sprawling city huddling beneath an artificial atmospheric bubble on a distant moon. Pleasure seekers flock there from every corner of the galaxy, to take in the shows and play the tables in the huge casinos. But beneath the glitz and the glitter, organised crime rules the streets.
Whilst Rose Tyler works as a waitress in the Full Moon nightclub, Jack Harkness poses as a reporter for the Daily Galaxy. Meanwhile, the Doctor is helping the police department with their investigation into The Whisper, a strange vigilante that has been terrorising the city’s underworld. But the Doctor is also on a mission of his own – to save Police Chief McNeil’s life at all costs.
The story starts with Rose as the focus and are introduced to the various characters one by one allowing us to get the feel for Nick Brigg’s performances. We see the seedy underbelly of New Vegas and we initially admire the power of The Whisper as they tackle the city’s criminal class. As the story progresses we also learn about more about the denizens of the city and find out the many truths behind the nature of The Whisper (I only got one out of three).
The action proceeds to its climax and amidst this the Doctor has to preserve McNeil’s life for his future incarnation. There is a powerful about loss and grief which gives us hints as to the anguish the Doctor felt at the end of the Time War and could (with hindsight) be seen as alluding to the mysterious John Hurt character introduced in The Name of the Doctor. It is all good stuff.
The writing is visual and evocative and Nick gives a first class performance (and I can’t spot any re-recording in scenes where he talks to himself). Initially the narration is punchy and full-on which does capture the flavour of the re-launch of Doctor Who. Nick’s Rose is ok – he doesn’t attempt to copy Billie Piper but does a generic London accent, Jack Harkness is loud and American and certainly along the lines of John Barrowman, the Ninth Doctor though is a tour de force with not only an appropriate accent but also the timing and inflexion of Christopher Eccleston. In fact the whole story feels entirely authentic as late Eccleston Doctor Who.
The first half is all action the second is action plus resolution. There is plenty to like and almost nothing to criticise. Cavan and Mark also need praise for the dramatic sweep of the prose and the direction of John Ainsworth also must be worth mentioning. There is also the much repeated use of serving Justice which reminds the knowing listener of the AudioVisuals.
This is an absolutely must listen release and surely we need a Ninth Doctor series of adventures? Nick is as close to playing the Doctor as he has been since the AudioVisual days.
The final two stories have a very high standard to meet and I for one can’t wait!