NB This review is not spoiler-free!
The preface to the previous Gallifrey story made it clear that the series was going to be delving into multiple timelines, and that things could become complicated going forward, with the involvement of a future Romana and Ace. It gets even more convoluted in this eighth set, which brings back the “core” group of the Gallifrey series – Romana II, Leela, Narvin, and Brax – alongside Ace. Scriptwriter David Llewellyn seems to have perhaps been over-impressed by the contortions of the penultimate X-Men movie, Days of Future Past, in its scrambling of timelines – I’m afraid I wasn’t convinced by the final resolution, particularly in terms of what people knew when, and what they retain. (It may parse if you sit down and draw the various timelines out, but I suspect that such a diagram would look like the Isolus from Fear Her!)
That’s not to say it’s not an enjoyable ride, particularly once you realise that all bets are off, and thanks to the presence of Eve Karpf’s figure from Gallifrey’s past, no one is safe. Many of the actors get a chance for death scenes and there’s an absolutely glorious performance from Louise Jameson as an older Leela in the final episode, with a scene between her and Lalla Ward that sums up exactly why the two characters have worked so well together over the past decades. Celia Imrie and Tom Allen have fun as Time Lords whose futures become bound up with Romana’s guilt and Miles Richardson gets a chance to add yet more dimensions to Brax. On the whole, Neil Gardner’s sound design works well, but the score by Ioan Morris & Rhys Downing unfortunately becomes irritating at times and far, far too high in the mix when it’s beneath dialogue.
It does feel as if Gallifrey the audio series is reaching the end of its natural life: we know there’s a War coming, and it would be good if the two were intertwined…
Verdict: An overcomplicated return to the machinations of the Time Lords’ world. 6/10