After slight delays due to the problems with AudioGO (and our best wishes to those caught up in the collapse of the company) The Time Machine by Matt Fitton adds the Eleventh Doctor to the Destiny of the Doctor range. This story is narrated by Jenna Coleman though here she plays Alice Watson rather than Clara. Michael Cochrane plays Professor Chivers and Nick Briggs plays the apparently unstoppable Creevix – insectoid aliens from another dimension.
With such an iconic title is this the jewel in the crown of the series or does it struggle under the weight of linking back to its ten predecessors? Find out…
The Big Finish synopsis gives us plenty of detail:
23 November 2013. In an Oxford laboratory, graduate Alice Watson helps Professor Chivers assemble the final pieces of an impossible machine. A time machine.
The scientist and his assistant believe they are making history, little suspecting that the project’s completion will threaten the existence of the entire universe. But someone has sensed the danger, and when the mysterious Doctor arrives, Alice is taken on a desperate race from libraries and dreaming spires all the way to the nightmare world of Earth’s future.
The monstrous Creevix are coming. They seek control of time itself and are certain that the Doctor is already too late to stop them. But can the key to saving the future lie in the Time Lord’s past lives?
The story starts with Alice nearly knocking the Doctor over in the streets of Oxford. We learn that today is the day that Professor Chivers will complete his time machine something most interesting to the Doctor. On visiting the laboratory the Doctor can see invading alien insects and wants to stop the time machine from happening. Needless to see what actually happens is a paradox gets created allowing the Creevix to consume our universe’s history. The story is made more fraught when we learn that the Creevix can manipulate events and know the future. Can even the Doctor on his own defeat them?
The answer is yes by drawing on events in his past lives and weaving another paradox under that of the Creevix.
Matt Fitton lives in Oxford and so it is no surprise that he picks it as a location and gives us the king of whistle stop tour that we are used to from shows live Morse / Lewis / Endeavour. For Doctor Who purists (and those who went to the other place) the Doctor is identified as being from Cambridge having studied at St Cedds from 1980. This being the college Douglas Adams created for Shada (and Dirk Gently) immediately put me in a HHGTTG mood as did a mention of 42 at one point. This of course also meant that I misplaced the reference to the Dylan song Blowing in the Wind!
Back to the story – I did feel that, like Catherine Tate before her, Jenna Coleman came across far more naturally in character than when narrating. I suspect this is due to a lack of experience with audio rather than lack of talent. The Creevix are suitably horrible and don’t just sound like Nick Briggs with another setting on the modulator. Michael Cochrane also plays Professor Chivers convincingly.
This story was also boxed in by needing to close down the series and while it does that with aplomb that does leave the listener always listening out for closure and The Time Machine on first listen felt like it would have enjoyed more time to explore who Alice was. Being Oxford Matt does work in reference to Lewis Carroll and even some Sherlock Holmes.
The series as a whole
There is a big reveal at the end when the Eleventh Doctor rattles off all the links from the previous ten stories. I followed nine of these and need to re-listen to think through the other one (the Second Doctor – thanks for asking). This is not a fault of the writing but of this reviewers mental processing capacity.
So the Destiny of the Doctor is concluded and with the AudioGO situation we are also concerned about the Destiny of the Big Finish tie-in. This series has told us many things including that it is all Doctor Who, both Classic and Nu; that Nick Briggs does a wonderful NInth Doctor and that the Big Finish authors can write entertaining material regardless of the Doctor.
Over to you – did you enjoy the series? Which was your favourite? Let me know!