All Hands on Deck review

No sooner have we had one great Short Trips set in the Time War era (A Heart on Both Sides), than we get another. This month we have had the delights of All Hands on Deck, an  Eddie Robson story directed by Lisa Bowerman and narrated by Carole Ann Ford, and all under the auspices of script editor / producer Ian Atkins. It’s a Susan Foreman (or Campbell, more accurately) story, and tells what happened after the events of To The DeathIt’s a lot for one short story to live up, but All Hands on Deck does it in spades.

All Hands on Deck

The synopsis on the Big Finish website sets the scene:

Everyone Susan Campbell cared about has gone. Most of them died in the second Dalek invasion, and her grandfather never visits. She’s living in what used to be Coal Hill School, helping Earth rebuild again.

Then, one night, she’s called away to help with an emergency. A piece of appropriated Dalek technology is malfunctioning, and everyone’s afraid of what it might do…

This is just the first in a sequence of predicaments facing Susan – and the connection between them will shape the rest of her life.

As things get interesting for Susan, the Eighth Doctor makes an appearance. While for Susan some years have passed, for the Doctor it’s been a major change of appearance (he had an image relaunch at the start of Dark Eyes) but at least he hasn’t regenerated. The Coal Hill setting makes for some nostalgia, but actually nostalgia is only a small part of this story. In some thirty-odd minutes, All Hands on Deck talks about:

  • What did Susan do next?
  • What does the Time War mean for Susan?

It even sets the scene for (one day) letting us know where Susan is now (ie in the time of modern Doctor Who). It doesn’t tell us, but opens the door to the possibility.

It’s an emotion rent story and even if Carole Ann Ford isn’t trying to give an impersonation of Paul McGann, it’s a moving story and as you listen you can easily see both characters and it gives both of them an intense emotional experience.

If you never normally listen to this range (and why not?!), please do try this and last month’s. You’ll be surprised.

I can’t recommend this story highly enough.


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