(ISBN 1-84435-175-0)





 Summer to winter, the

 seasons turn.


 In the springtime of a

 distant future, the

 Doctor and Nyssa

 become embroiled in

 Time Lord politics on

 an alien world.

 During the stifling

 heat of a summer

 past they suffer the

 vengeful wrath of

 Isaac Newton. In the

 recent past, Nyssa

 spends a romantic

 golden autumn in an

 English village while

 the Doctor plays

 cricket. And finally,

 many years after

 their travels

 together have ended,

 the two friends meet

 again in the 

 strangest of



 Four seasons. Four



 Now close the door

 behind you, you're

 letting the cold in...


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Circular Time




1. SPRING      2. SUMMER      3. AUTUMN






Big Finish’s ninety-first monthly release is one of the most diverse plays in the entire range. Written by Paul Cornell and Mike Maddox, this production is broken up into four discrete episodes, each typifying a different kind of Doctor Who story: alien planet, pure historical, social realism and shameless fan service. Circular Time is thus a crash course in Doctor Who, and would perhaps even be viewed as the quintessential Doctor Who digest were it not for its audacious eschewing of tradition in its second half.


Long ago in an English spring…


The anthology’s first episode, “Spring”, is a well-crafted and enlivening tale that’s buoyed by some superlative sound design. Like a good short story, it throws listeners straight into the thick of things, before sending them off in one direction only to spin them right back around with a pleasing twist. It’s also a very imaginative episode - whilst the idea of an avian-descended species is not a new idea by any means, the writers have clearly put a lot of thought into the mechanics of how such a species would function, and it is on such subtleties that the plot turns. The ‘justice’ subplot is similarly clever, and particularly appealing to someone who works in the legal profession and wrote his undergraduate dissertation on jurisprudence.


Long ago in an English summer…


“Summer” is another intelligent, pensive episode, characterised by a dark and brooding sense of humour. Unlike Mr Cornell’s good lady wife, I’m no great historian, and so I can’t comment on how accurate this episode’s portrayal of Sir Isaac Newton is. What I can say though is that painting the celebrated discover of gravity as an Arianist extremist and pitiless torturer makes for some breathtaking drama, especially with perennial baddie David Warner cast in the role. Davison and Warner spark off each other marvellously in their scenes together, eking every ounce of drama out of some already penetrating dialogue and meaty subject matter.


Long ago in an English autumn…


“Something is added to cricket by the angle of the sun as it stands at four o’clock in early September. The shadows are longer, there is a suggestion of colder days approaching, of circular time; of aspects of our lives dying away, and returning. The other sort of time in called linear time; modern time. Life is hard, and then one dies. If that is something one is liable to do…”


However, each episode of Circular Time is better than its last as the writers move further away from convention, slowly shedding the series’ staples and embracing the sort of gritty character drama that one might find buried in the yellowed pages of an old Virgin paperback. “Autumn” is a case in point, situated in the fifth Doctor’s comic strip stomping ground of Stockbridge but devoid of science fiction trappings of any kind. It’s ostensibly a quaint, heart-warming tale about the Doctor helping a small village’s cricket team to avoid relegation and Nyssa falling in love for the first time. Yet, despite its assuming nature, “Autumn” is by turns moving and powerful. As the Doctor and Nyssa’s bookending soliloquies summarise so beautifully, their enemy here is not an alien, monster or megalomaniac – it is simply time, and all that it brings.



Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2007


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.



The first three episodes of this release (those entitled Spring, Summer and Autumn) take place between the audio drama The Game and the Doctor Who Magazine comic strips set in Stockbridge. The Winter episode takes place much later, during the final moments of the fifth Doctors life.


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