Charlotte Pollard series 1 reviewed

Charlotte Pollard - Series One coverThe first thing that struck me was the title – this is Charlotte Pollard Series One rather than anything on the lines of Charley Returns for a Nostalgic One-off. Apart from India Fisher this also stars James Joyce, Nick Briggs and Lousie Brealey among others.

Written jointly by Jonathan Barnes and Matt Fitton, how was it?

How to assess

For this to be the start of something it needs to (in my mind) achieve two things:

  1. Park the time with the Doctor in a tidy fashion
  2. Set Ms Pollard up with a viable raison d’être and one which almost certainly moves her on from being the Viyran’s assistant.

With that in mind, let’s think about the four stories.

The stories

Lamentation Cipher

The wonderfully titled Lamentation Cypher by Jonathan Barnes kicks things off and we meet Charlotte Pollard (for we must call her that) working for the Viyrans (Michael Maloney) going about her business of virus hunting. She meets a young man name Robert Buchan (James Joyce) and events catalyse her into leaving the Viyrans.

She is aided by a rogue Viyran with unusual powers and all of this happens near a strange space-time event called the Ever-and-Ever-Prolixity. The story ends with only one possible route – enter the Proloxity. All very much getting the plot rolling though it does takes its time getting to the jumping off point

Shadow at the Edge of the WorldNext up Jonathan Barnes takes us to the see the Shadow at the Edge of the World or pre-World War II Scotland as it is called. This is a slightly frustrating episode that has an all female cast of academics lost in the forest being herded by ravenous beasts. All the parts are excellent and there is plenty of tension but I felt that the episode didn’t quite know where to go apart from the need to send Charlotte back to the Prolixity.

She also exhibits a new ability that is never explained away though does let us get mis-lead.

[pullquote]possibly Matt’s most subtle piece of writing[/pullquote]

Fall of the House of PollardRoll up Matt Fitton’s The Fall of the House of Pollard which takes a key back-story issue and faces it head-on. Charley (as was) ran away from home to ‘die’ on the R101 where she in fact met the Eighth Doctor. This left behind a family who grieved for her (and a chance for Anneke Wills to reprise Charley’s mother Louisa). This story tugs at all the emotions as Charley returns home to find that her family have been badly affected by events and when the Viyrans are added to the mix this produces a poignant tale that is possibly Matt’s most subtle piece of writing for Big Finish so far.

It ends with a tidy break and for me this is one of the key things mentioned above.

Viyran SolutionMatt keeps the pace moving with The Viyran Solution which has the return of Robert Buchan, his father Bert (Nick Briggs in evil form) and his fiancée Millicent Belanger III (Louise Brealey) and a massive showdown with the Viyrans who have determined how best to stop viral infections throughout all of history.

The story not only wraps up the plot but does give a clean-break by getting Charlotte off the Viyran ship in an authentic way, setting up with a proto-romantic interest and cutting her loose for the future. Congratulations to both Matt and Jonathan; job done.


This series does achieve realistic objectives for me and is (as usual) well made and entertaining. I also perceive a few flaws:

  • Despite being the hero Charley (Charlotte just sounds wrong) doesn’t take much control over outcomes and only occasionally shows her great age and experience. The decision to leave the Viyrans seems arbitrary at this point and we don’t get the satisfaction we might get in an argument between Ace and the Seventh Doctor
  • This is a clean break but lacks any motif for the next series. Is Charley in Space a good enough premise for a continuing series? I’m not one of the writers and I am sure this has been considered. I look forward to finding out more.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.