So, it’s the end of another run of Fourth Doctor Adventures and we have the listening pleasure of Marc Platt’s The Thief Who Stole Time, the second part of the story he began in The Skin of the Sleek, If you’ve heard the previous instalment, you’ve more than likely a subscription to all nine episodes of this sixth series of stories for Tom Baker’s Doctor. If not, go subscribe now.
There’s one question this story needs to answer: is it as good as Skin of the Sleek? Yes. In fact it might be even better. Why I hear you ask? Read on…
The Thief Who Stole Time story
First the product page blurb:
A god has died. A crime has been committed. And an even greater threat lies beneath the surface.
On the ocean world of Funderell, Romana has been reunited with her old friend from Gallifrey, Sartia, and the Doctor is investigating the history and religion of this strange world. But events have quickly spiralled out of control.
Why is this planet of such interest to the Time Lords? What lurks in the depths?
The life of more than one world is at stake. But time is running out.
If you remember from last time, Sartia (Romana’s friend played with real intensity by Joannah Tincey) is on Funderell for a reason, and it’s not just making documentaries. The inhabitants live in a solitary village, afloat on the skin of Funderell, worshipping their gods, the strange underwater creatures known as sleek.There’s a strong mystic element with skalds, a book, and plenty of prophecy. Not only are the Doctor and Romana separated, but Romana is left to die alone and it’s no walk in the park with a quick rescue, as the Doctor seeks to preserve his life, understand the importance of this world to the Time Lords and save the day.
The story comes from several angles, and even though we are clear on the motivations of many of the players, it all unfolds with authentic precision. Marc Platt paints a memorable world and director Ken Bentley gets some astonishing performances from the cast. It all makes a joyous whole with Skin of the Sleek and will live long in the memory.
In six series, their have been several noteworthy stories in the Fourth Doctor Adventures, but Marc Platt may have just set a new bar, at the end of a strong run of stories.
The Thief Who Stole Time storytelling
In the review of the first part, I covered the Under Milk Wood feel and listeners should be pleased to know this continues into The Thief Who Stole Time. All the inhabitants are fabulous, from Jane Slavin’s Frithra to Jamie Newall’s Greygul. Special praise, though, needs to go to Lalla Ward for her performance as a desperate Romana absolutely convinced she is dying, alone on this strange world. It’s very, very powerful, and contrasts with the recovered poise of her final encounter with Sartia,
Marc Platt has carefully allowed for a follow-up to some of this story, but I don’t imagine it will include a return to Funderell itself. Our loss.