(ISBN 1-84435-175-0)






 coming. A war in

 which millions will

 die. And the guest in

 suite 139 of the Hotel

 Palace Thermae

 knows it. Which is

 odd, considering he

 has trotters, a snout

 and a lovely curly

 Toby the Sapient Pig is

 a swine on the run.

 Two peculiar

 strangers have been

 hunting him across

 Europe. The first, Miss

 Alice Bultitude, is an

 Englishwoman and

 collector of obscure

 theatrical ephemera.

 The second, Inspector

 Alphonse Chardalot,

 is a celebrated

 member of the

 detective police - the

 man who brought the

 trunk murderess of St

 Germain to justice.
 This was supposed to

 be a reading week for

 the Doctor and Peri.

 Now they must do

 battle with a villain

 who wants to wipe

 every last human

 from the face of the

 earth - once he's had

 just another dish of

 truffles. And maybe a

 valedictory glass of

 fizzy lemonade.


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Year of the Pig








On the whole 2006 has been a great year for Big Finish productions – a real return to form. Whilst I had my reservations about “Red” and “Pier Pressure”, it has to be said that every other monthly release (not to mention the frankly amazing I, Davros mini-series) has been nothing short of brilliant.


However, in my view December’s offering is not quite up to the standard of some recent releases. It is not a complete catastrophe by any means, but there are certainly enough

flaws creeping into the two and a half-hour “Year of the Pig” to question how Gary Russell can justify speaking so highly of it in his departing Producer’s Note.


Admittedly, the idea behind Matthew Sweet’s story is great; textbook Doctor Who fodder. A

French Detective Policeman and a mad Englishwoman are hunting a Sapient Pig across Europe. Where did this pig come from? Why does it believe that pigs should – as they once did – rule the world? Like I say, there is certainly enough meat in the premise to sustain a good Doctor Who story...


                                        ...but over two and a half hours?


I think that Sweet’s charming story would have been a great ninety-minuter. Though I can understand Big Finish presenting it as two elongated episodes (1985 style), I do not think that the episodes should have been stretched out to over seventy minutes each. Stories like “Davros” and “The Reaping” could quite easily sustain such length, but not a light-hearted bit of fluff like this. The first episode drags horrendously – nothing of note seems to happen. At all. It is all just exposition and atmosphere. Granted, it is beautifully crafted and really paints the picture of 1913 Ostend well, but after about half an hour my mind was wandering. There is such a thing as too much atmosphere.


The second episode is better than the first in that it moves along at a much quicker pace

and begins to actually reveal certain truths about the characters that subsequently move the plot along. Towards the end, I found myself really engrossed in the play.


Of course, Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant are both as fantastic as ever. Curiously, the

Doctor and Peri seem much more at ease with each other here than they did during the 1985 season. In fact, they barely have a bad word to say to one another and even seem quite relaxed in each other’s company. Moreover, the 1986 “Trial of a Time Lord” theme is inexplicably used on this release, perhaps suggesting that this story could in fact take place after “The Reaping.” Then again, perhaps it is just an oversight. Maybe Big Finish have just decided to use this theme on all their sixth Doctor stories from now on. I suspect though that it is simply a case of the script originally being set later than after “Timelash”. Not that it matters – it just means that if you are picking up this CD expecting to hear a bickering Doctor and Peri, you will be disappointed. Or pleased, perhaps? It all depends on who you are and what you like!


Turning to the supporting cast, Maureen O’Brien – who played companion Vicki alongside William Hartnell’s Doctor – is splendid as Miss Alice Bultitude (a strange collector of taxidermy and obscure theatrical ephemera who is pursuing/stalking her hero, Toby the Sapient Pig). If I had not read the CD cover, I would never have guessed that this austere elderly lady was once young Vicki. Adjoa Andoh is also impressive as Nurse Albertine, but it is the performances of Paul Brooke as Toby and especially Michael Keating as Inspector Chardalot that really steal the show in my opinion. They are both absolutely phenomenal, particularly in the second episode. Between them, they actually manage to make this most ludicrous and surreal of scripts moving.


And so “Year of the Pig” is not a total write-off; in fact, it is one of kind and, had its running time been reduced by an hour or so, I may even have been hailing it as something of a twisted classic.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006


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



This play’s CD blurb places it after Timelash, but not necessarily prior to Revelation of the Daleks. Given that the Dominic Glynn version of the series’ theme music is used here, and that the Doctor / Peri relationship is portrayed as being comparatively calm, we therefore concur that Year of the Pig does indeed take place after Timelash – but long after Timelash! We have therefore placed it after the radio serial Slipback, which is the final sixth Doctor story to use the Peter Howell version of the theme tune.


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