Review: Doctor Who: Big Finish Audio: The War Doctor 3.1: The Shadow Vortex

dwtwd0301_theshadowvortex_1417The Time War comes to Earth in a pivotal year in East/West relations…

There are inevitably certain conflicts that arise when multiple different sources chronicle a particular period of Doctor Who history – even more so when some are licensed, others are not – but one thing that’s been pretty clear across all media is that Earth has been (somehow) declared off limits, and the rampaging hordes of battle-crazed, victory seeking Time Lords haven’t fought the Daleks in England’s green and pleasant land, or anywhere close. That changes in David Llewellyn’s taut tale set during the Cold War, throwing us in in media res with the Doctor and another time traveller captured by the much feared East German secret police, the Stasi, who have more than enough on their plate with the problems caused by the erection of the Wall across Berlin.

As appropriate for the setting, it’s a game of cat and mouse between the Dalek agent and the Doctor, with the Time Lord gaining an interesting temporary companion – and showing once again that war changes everything. One of the things that I’ve enjoyed about this series is the way in which certain hard and fast rules – fixed points if you like – about Doctor Who storytelling have been quite deliberately set aside or consciously rewritten. It adds an air of instability to proceedings that continues to make the War Doctor range something rather different for Big Finish.

Neve McIntosh’s Lara is an excellent foil for John Hurt, with Timothy Speyer and Helen Goldwyn similarly strong as “innocents” caught up on either side of the Wall. Howard Carter’s sound design and music add to the cinematic feel to the story, with Nick Briggs ramping up the tension as the story seems to be heading towards the impossible…

Verdict: An excellent start to the new set. 9/10

Paul Simpson


The War Doctor Volume Three: Agents of Chaos is available exclusively from Big Finish


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