As has been pointed out by a number of people, John Dorney is one of Big Finish’s real finds, and with this script, he has produced one of the best stories for Colin Baker’s Doctor in recent times. The nature of the tale fits with the sometimes heightened reality of his era, yet he manages to make some quite serious points about the responsibilities of scientists and writers.
He also pulls off a trick that is extremely hard to do in this spoiler-filled age (and don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil it here), and does it well enough that I seriously wondered whether Big Finish had deliberately planted a great deal of misinformation to put listeners off the scent of the truth. He also puts in the trapdoor that allows him to complete the illusion surreptitiously enough that what needs to be done becomes obvious to the listener only a few moments before it occurs to the Doctor.
The cast pulls double duty in this, with many of them playing two roles – the bitchy actors, and the parts they play on a new sort of TV show. And of course when we get the inevitable combination of the two, director Nick Briggs ensures that as a listener you’re always clear which we’re listening to.
If you’ve ever wanted to know how The Last Action Hero would have worked if all its ramifications had been thought through (I was going to add the word “properly” there, but in fact, just “thought through” will do!), then you’ll enjoy The Fourth Wall. Highly recommended. 9/10