The February 2014 release in the Companion Chronicles range was a First Doctor story entitled The Sleeping City. Written by Ian Potter it was performed by William Russell and John Banks. Set after Ian and Barbara have returned to Earth will we find that the greatest threat is to be faced after leaving the TARDIS?
The synopsis from Big Finish is thus:
After travelling with the Doctor through time and space, Ian Chesterton is back in his own time. But the mystery of how he and Barbara Wright disappeared in the year 1963 has alerted the authorities – and both are suspected of being enemy agents in the Cold War.
Ian protests his innocence. He has a story to tell about travelling through time and space.
And one adventure in particular – a visit to the city of Hisk…
Ian is imprisoned by a mysterious government department who want to question both him and Barbara about the Doctor and Vicki. His interrogator, Gerrard, wants to find out anything that might give insight into the Doctor. The interrogation leads Ian to talk about a recent adventure in the city of Hisk. Here the TARDIS crew encounter a market whose population regularly switches off to spend time in a state of sleep learning to share dreams. This also means that there are times when the share nightmares and this leads the Doctor and his companions to re-programme the sleep machines to allow the local population to become free of mental conditioning.
The market starts off friendly and becomes sinister – back on Earth things start sinister and become even more so. Ian needs to figure out Gerrard’s true motives before it is too late.
Of course there is one more twist before the end which I won’t spoil and while the ending of this tale might not surprise all listeners it is an enjoyable listen none the less.
I have to focus on the performances of both the cast. We all know William Russell can do a decent Doctor but in many ways the story in the city of Hisk is Vicki’s not Ian’s. Even without Maureen o’Brien we get enough of the sense of personality to feel as though we have a full crew.
[pullquote]John Banks…an exceptional voice artist[/pullquote]
I also must draw attention to John Banks who is an exceptional voice artist and in this one story performs more characters that I can count. Although the CD extras often give John a chance to revel in his versatility it is listening to episodes like this one that really do let his talents shine through. Between the two actors we have what seems to be a very busy story, some twists and while it may be just a moment in the story of the First Doctor this tale has an authenticity that any fan of this era should enjoy.
You might like to pop along to Ian Potter’s blog and read some of the author’s own thoughts.