(ISBN 1-84435-316-3)





 Thomas Brewster is

 haunted by the ghost

 of his drowned

 mother. But she is not

 the only apparition

 to disturb his

 dreams. Every few

 years, he is visited by

 a mysterious blue


 Helped by his new

 assistant, the young

 Scots scientist Robert

 McIntosh, the Doctor

 struggles to unravel

 the twisted knot of



 which bind the TARDIS

 to Thomas Brewster.

 Meanwhile, lost in the

 stews of Victorian

 London, Nyssa must

 face a host of

 spectral creatures

 gathering in the fog.


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The Haunting of Thomas Brewster

APRIL 2008







The Haunting of Thomas Brewster is Big Finish’s most remarkable offering of the year to date. By turns eerie and gritty, Jonathan Morris’s Dickensian homage blends a number of usually ring-fenced Doctor Who subgenres to form an enchanting and thoroughly gripping four-parter that deserves a category all of its own.


There are shades of the relatively recent Doctor Who and Torchwood episodes Love & Monsters and Random Shoes in the play’s opening moments, as Morris tells the story from the fresh perspective of Thomas Brewster, the workhouse urchin of the title. Orphaned at a young age when his mother took her own life, Brewster has since been haunted by her vaporous presence – and that of a strange blue box.  However, within moments we are steered into far more transfixing waters as, much like its time-travelling, Dementor-like antagonists, Morris’s tale pulls itself up by its bootstraps, using its temporally-displaced climax to create intrigue in the very first episode. This sets the stall for the tumultuous tale of impossible apparitions and apparent impossibilities that is to follow.


Under more conventional circumstances, a thirty year-old playing a Victorian scallywag might have raised an eyebrow or two, but as he’s sharing a dressing room with a fifty-seven year-old playing a nine hundred year-old and a forty-six year-old playing a teenage girl, I think that John Pickard (2.4 Children, Hollyoaks) just about gets away with it. His rapscallion Brewster is nothing short of sublime, achieving just the right balance between cliché and credibility. Brewster may well have been cast from an Artful Dodger-like mould, but he’s a damn sight more relatable. Leslie Ash is also imposing as late Mother Brewster. As I was a big fan of Simon Nye’s sitcom Men Behaving Badly, and I’ve not really seen Ash in much else, I went into this play with certain preconceptions about her – preconceptions that she instantly dispelled with her unsettling performance. As odd as it sounds, it doesn’t sound like her. 


Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton are both gifted some magnificent material too, particularly the former. The Doctor’s Brewster-inflicted exile allows the Spamalot star to put a new spin on his character, who inveigles himself into Victorian academia and – as he looks “too young” to be taken seriously - grows a beard, humorously mirroring what Davison looks like these days. The Doctor even acquires an assistant – and I literally mean an assistant – whom, extraordinarily, he decides to shield from his wondrous world. The Bride of Peladon’s Christian Coulson imbues the mild-mannered Robert McIntosh with an amiable sense of loyalty and discretion – not once does he ask about the police box in the corner of the Doctor’s study, and never does he suspect that his genial paymaster is a marooned alien time traveller. However, the revelations that follow Nyssa’s reunion with the Doctor allow Morris to break new dramatic ground with McIntosh in a manner that’s reminiscent of the revived television series.


I must also highlight the hefty contributions made by director Barnaby Edwards and especially sound designer Simon Robinson. The Haunting of Thomas Brewster has an ambience that’s all its own; a distinct and disquieting identity that’s only heightened by the synthetic Oriental riff that dominates its score.


If you’re looking for something bold and beautiful, then you’ve just found it. As Morris says himself, The Haunting of Thomas Brewster is a ghost story and a detective story and a base under siege story and a bona fide head-scratcher, yet I feel that it’s somehow much more than the sum of its parts – and, if its cliffhanging ending is anything to go by, a long way from over.





Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2008

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