A Heart on Both Sides review

So, with Rob Nisbet’s A Heart on Both Sides the Time War comes to the Short Trips range, and we learn just what Nyssa did next, next as in long after any travels with the Fifth Doctor. As the cover makes clear, this is an Eighth Doctor story, and comes out just in time to get us in the mood for October’s first Time War boxset. I have to admit to a fondness for the Short Trips range, and once again the range demonstrates just what it is capable of.

A Heart on Both Sides

The synopsis for this story is:

After her medical work on Terminus, Nyssa is now the controller of a hospital ship, the Traken. As the universe burns in the crossfire of the Time War, she and her assistant travel to a planet close to Gallifrey where they are needed more than ever. A long time ago, Nyssa knew a Time Lord and understood his people.

But it seems they can change…

It’s a clever, clever title, referring as it does to many aspects of this gripping story and of the many equally clever aspects of the story is the way it avoids any cheap Doctor:Doctor comparisons. War is hell, and in a short thirty minutes the story gives us a good slice of just why the rest of the universe grew bored with the Time War, and just why Time Lords and Daleks became equally loathed. Sarah Sutton reads straight down the line, adding nuance without exaggeration, and the story is populated with believable characters and just enough comic relief to dilute some otherwise very grim moments.

A pendant might point to the narration of the Doctor as being more of a suggestion than a full-blown recreation, but really this is beside the point. Sarah Sutton (with Lisa Bowerman’s direction) makes this work and I’d be very interested to hear some more of this stage of Nyssa’s life, with or without passing incarnations of the Doctor.

Full marks to everyone, including range producer Ian Atkins.

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