Eleventh Doctor Chronicles review

The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles gives Jacob Dudman the chance to perform as the Eleventh Doctor in four hour-long audio dramas. They are in the Companion Chronicles format, meaning (generally) narrative and a second actor to flesh out the story. Under the watchful ear of director Helen Goldwyn, Jacob does (another) great job in recreating a modern incarnation of the Doctor.

Let’s go deeper, let’s don our bow ties and journey again into the Matt Smith era…

First up is AK Benedict’s Doctor and Amy story The Calendar Man. It’s a mystery come horror story on a world where only one woman (Olivia) knows something is very wrong, and it all starts in the fog and leads into a fairy tale.

Unlike the other stories in the set, this is written as a Short Trips with the extra character (Olivia, played by Eleanor Crooks) adding to the mix and in so-doing serves to eclipse the part played by Amy who, in this story, is somewhat generic and doesn’t shine. The story works well enough, even if it recycles some ideas we’ve had elsewhere. It’s not a bad tale by any means, with plenty of atmosphere due in no small part to the sound design.

Second is Simon Guerrier’s The Top of the Tree, a charming tale with more than a touch of the alien, a wonderfully imagined setting and a return to the part of Kazran Sardick for Danny Horn. I was impressed with Danny’s reprisal of Kazran in the first Churchill Chronicles set, and he is as strong here. Fingers crossed he has other chances to make more of this character. There’s a good mix of action for Kazran and the Doctor and it’s a rather splendid story all round.

Third is the turn of Roy Gill to give Simon Fisher-Becker the chance to bring back Dorium Maldovar in The Light Keepers. The setting is magnificent and the story brings in elements of Tales from New Earth while also allowing for plenty of definition of Dorium’s character. In the extras Simon FIsher-Becker pleas for more chances to return, something I can only echo having heard this.

Finally (and by no means least) is Alice Cavender’s False Coronets set in a parallel history with Jane Austin (Nathalie Bushcombe) very much in the centre of things, The Doctor and Clara have to fix history back in the early nineteenth century. I have to admit I was unsure of this story from the synopsis, as Jane Austen seems to be often mentioned. Five minutes in I had no qualms: the writing is strong, Nathalie Bushcombe is brilliant. Clara’s part (read by Jacob) is clear and vibrant and the story is packed with well-realised characters and could easily have been a full-cast two-disc story. It’s really strong, and the best I have heard of Alice’s work so far for Big Finish. I would venture so far as to claim this as one of (if not the) best Jane Austen in Doctor Who pieces I know.

Overall the set is strong, Jacob is as talented and versatile as he was in the Tenth Doctor set and the direction, music and sound are all top notch. You don’t need to be a huge Eleventh Doctor fan to enjoy this immensely.

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