The Greatest Show in the Galaxy review

Back in the day (ie the 1980s) I was fast losing interest in Doctor Who but recent reappraisal of episodes from the time has left with with growing respect for the era. This time it’s The Greatest Show in the Galaxy I turn my attention to. I had little regard for it at the time – now what do I think?

The Greatest Show in the Galaxy?

On rewatch I still find the production style irritating. Looking back it’s a definite feature of the Seventh Doctor era to have episodes shot out of studio, even if most of this is in a tent in a car park.

Stephen Wyatt’s (he also wrote Paradise Towers) story takes creepy clowns, dodgy hunter, old gods, robots and even a werewolf as its components. And therein lies my interest: July is Seventh Doctor month, and I’ve listened to and greatly enjoyed the recent Big Finish trilogy with Mags (Jessica Martin). This was enough to persuade me to pick this for a rewatch.

I don’t know how best to explain what I don’t like about the style (and for me Battlefield is more guilty of this). For want of a better name I call it Sixth Form Drama where everyone involved is over-keen, over-serious and overdoes everything. I find a lot of the initial episode too arty and the gods in the arena rather dull once revealed. There’s clearly a good backstory adventure for the circus (and one, perhaps, Big Finish are creating [if rumours are true]?) and some intriguing characters but it’s not enough for me.

I also don’t need the spoon playing or special effect bold dodging nonsense in the arena. It’s like something is missing for me.

I was paying special attention to Jessica Martin and while she’s a fabulous presence on screen, she actually says very little – she’s much busier in her Big Finish stories!

I accept it’s a good story and well-loved, I can’t agree with the 5* review from the Radio Times. I did find the idea of killing the fan rather amusingly ironic but this story just doesn’t work for me.

If you can see what I’ve missed, let me know, but for now I’ll put this down to experience. One day I’ll have another look at some others from this era. But, not today.

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