A new writer to the Short Trips range (though possibly is the actor who has appeared in many Big Finish releases, including lots of early Benny stories), Stephen Fewell has the distinction of writing for Mark Strickson in the Fifth Doctor / Turlough story A Trap for Fools. I’m biased, but I do like the Short Trips range, and this is another great example of why it works. Recent months have shown the range of possible stories, crossing new/old series boundaries, unexpected names of narrators and even touching the Time War, yet this story reminds us of the power of a simple story, told well, at the core of what Doctor Who is.
Trap for Fools
Here’s the blurb:
‘…St. Neot’s Refuge was founded in 3016 for the education of young men to the service of empire and state. In the quiet shade of Diaz’ world, each boy can develop that true sense of self-worth which will enable him to stand up for himself, and for a purpose greater than himself and, in doing so, to be of value to society; to be a man…’ School Prospectus
‘Want to change the future, Turlough? Use a school,’ The Doctor
Already it’s genius: let’s put Turlough back in a public school, thought this one is set in the future, it has all the tropes we want, from dodgy teachers, dull lessons and an overbearing sense of survival of the most privileged. There’s a threat and a clever resolution, but this story lets us just focus on Turlough. In a very natural way, Stephen Fewell puts the Doctor out of reach, and lets Turlough be the natural centre of the story.
Under Lisa Bowerman’s direction, Mark Strickson delivers the story in a highly engaging style, and left me both enjoying the story and wishing we had more Turlough stories. I have another bias here: years ago when I decided to finally listen to the main range, it was the second release, Phantasmagoria, that convinced me these early stories were as good as I had heard. Followed by Loups-Garoux (and there’s plenty of good stuff in the first 20 releases), Turlough for me became the first example of how Big Finish could let you really appreciate a character I hadn’t rated highly on TV.
Anyhow, Trap for Fools is a great little story. Well done all!