This particular Early Adventure marks the debut of Jemma Powell as Barbara Wright, recreating the role she took in Mark Gatiss’ An Adventure in Space and Time for the 50th anniversary. As with Elliot Chapman playing Ben, it’s one of those things that you vaguely notice for the first couple of lines of dialogue and then forget about completely – Powell slots in alongside William Russell and Carole Ann Ford seamlessly, and if anything, you wish that the series wasn’t quite so faithful to the original concept of giving actors weeks/episodes off so we’d get more of the interplay between them. (From the sound of the trailer for the next story, that wish would appear to be granted.)
That seamless feel is generated by Nick Wallace’s script, which feels exactly like the sort of story that you can imagine being made in the first year of the series as it tried lots of different things with times that it reminded me of The Masters of Luxor. Critically, Wallace remembers that at that point, Ian was the hero, rather than the Doctor, and he’s very definitely front and centre, particularly in the middle episodes which pay homage to a lot of World War II submarine movies (and their descendants – Wrath of Khan notably). Susan isn’t neglected either: Ford is given plenty to work with, as are all the guest stars – Tom Bell making Arran a more rounded character than perhaps he would have been allowed to be had this been made in the Sixties.
Verdict: An excellent adventure for Jemma Powell to make a strong debut in. 9/10