The Fifth Traveller reviewed

doctor-who-the-fifth-travellerThe latest series of Early Adventures continues with another outing for Jemma Powell as Barbara Wright. Philip Lawrence brings us The Fifth Traveller and we welcome Jospa (James Joyce) to the TARDIS.
Just what is going on and what adventures will befall the First Doctor, Ian, Barbara, Vicki and Jospa? Let’s find out…

The story

Here’s the Big Finish product page synopsis:

The Doctor, Ian, Barbara, Vicki and Jospa land the TARDIS on the homeworld of the Arunde. Emerging into the jungle that covers the planet and encountering the strange wildlife dwelling within, the travellers are unaware that the true rulers live high above them in the trees.

The ape-like members of the tribe are in trouble. The last Matriar’s nest has been lost to the surface, and the people are hungry… Maybe these strangers may be responsible. And some believe they may be salvation.

The TARDIS crew are about to find themselves in the middle of somebody else’s battle. But there’s more at stake than even they can know.

So, a mysterious new crewmember and this alongside a mystery on the planet Arunde. Where will the story go? Well, nobody is wondering who Jospa is except the listener. The story focusses on the various players as they get split up (of course) and suffer various ordeals as bad things happen to the TARDIS (falling over a cliff being but one). All very traditional and meanwhile deeper problems are revealed before the Doctor and team have to rely on help from the locals. It doesn’t help that the locals view them as a strange alien threat!

Of course it all ends well, mostly, but the skill in the writing is in making us care even when we don’t believe anything permanently bad will happen.

The storytelling

All the performances are good and Philip Lawrence is to be congratulated for the way he constructed the story so as to not dwell on who Jospa was now why he was there. James Joyce is very good in the part and the whole story feels very much of the period. Jemma Powell gets more to do, and if she is not recreating how Jacqueline Hill played the part, she is playing the same part. Barbara gets more to do and her mannerisms and pacing are authentic. The extras are worth a listen for the part where Jemma explains her approach, and I think she’s done enough now that we can move on from the basic ‘can she do Barbara’ to the more interesting ‘how good is Jemma in the part’.

The alien world feels very alien, the Arunde are definitely not human and, as I already said, this feels very much of the period. Roll on next month’s story!

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