FOR THE FIFTH DOCTOR,
THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
TV STORY "THE FIVE
DOCTORS" AND THE
BIG FINISH AUDIO BOOK
BIG FINISH CD#1
RELEASED IN JULY 1999.
Gallifrey is in a
state of crisis, facing
destruction at the
hands of an
And the Doctor is
involved in three
incarnations - each
caught up in a deadly
across time and
space. The web of time
is threatened - and
someone wants the
three incarnations of
the Doctor must join
together to set time
back on the right
track - but in doing
so, will they unleash
a still greater
The Sirens of Time
The Sirens of Time had its work cut out for it from the start, being the first official Doctor Who programme recorded since the TV Movie and also being the first in what was hoped would become (and thankfully, did become) a successful range of audio adventures for the Time Lord. On top of all that, it was saddled with the burden of being a companionless multi-Doctor story – hardly the most straightforward of briefs for debutant scribe Nicholas Briggs.
The first thing that struck me about this play were its tremendous production values; at times the soundscape is absolutely breathtaking. If you were to close your eyes, you can quite easily imagine that a television episode of Doctor Who is being shown in same room.
Moreover, as soon as you hear Sylvester McCoy’s voice at the opening of Part 1, you know that Who is back with a vengeance. The Virgin and BBC novels are wonderful in their own right, but I’d argue that Big Finish offer what comes closest to an authentic Doctor Who serial, right down to the traditional four episode format.
The story itself is a good old-fashioned multi-Doctor romp, approached from the innovative angle of having each Doctor star in his own episode before the three incarnations gather for the final instalment. McCoy’s episode works well in that it successfully reacquaints the listener with the seventh Doctor whilst shepherding him through a close, atmospheric story populated by some very interesting characters – Sancroff is particularly intriguing, though Maggie Stables’ Ruthley is too over the top for my tastes. Davison’s episode, meanwhile, is the definite pick of the bunch – his interactions with Mark Gatiss’ Captain Schwieger are particularly memorable. Unfortunately for Colin Baker though, his episode is where the story starts to get a bit confusing as events on Gallifrey unfold, the Time Lords’ planet eventually falling to the Knights of Velyshaa. Despite the confusing plot though, Baker is brilliant in his portrayal – every bit as arrogant and obnoxious as his Doctor was on television!
As for Part 4, whilst the interaction between the three Doctors is a joy to listen to, there is far too much plot crammed into a single episode (albeit a thirty minutes plus one). The episode also ends somewhat predictably with Gallifrey being saved and all of history being restored, leaving the seventh Doctor back on the planet where it all began, this time prepared to resist the Sirens’ call.
On a final note, the production’s guess cast is first rate. Even though it is quite small - Gatiss, for example, plays three roles, though admittedly this isn’t much of a challenge for The League of Gentleman star - this doesn’t detract from the story at all. In fact, the undersized cast makes it easy to concentrate on what is happening – were Big Finish to attempt a huge play with a large cast of characters I fear that it would be very difficult to follow. Sarah Mowat is particularly impressive as the recurring female character who has the difficult task of carrying the story over the four distinct episodes.
All in all then, The Sirens of Time is a decent start to the range. It isn’t an out-and-out triumph by any means, but it’s clear that there is so, so much potential here.
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.
According to the guidance provided, for the fifth Doctor these events take place between The Five Doctors
and Warriors of the Deep. We have therefore placed them between the The Five Doctors and Ringpullworld, simply because The Sirens of Time was released between the two.
According to the guidance provided, for the sixth Doctor these events take place between the television stories The Trial of a Time Lord and Time and the Rani, but there is nothing in the dialogue that assists
in determining a more specific placement. However, the later novel Instruments of Darkness would suggest that Evelyn was stuck inside the TARDIS whilst the Doctor visited the Kurgon Wonder (which he does here) placing these events at some point after The Marian Conspiracy for the sixth Doctor. They must also take place prior to The Apocalypse Element, as characters from The Sirens of Time return in that adventure, and whilst the Doctor could potentially encounter them out of sequence, this is extremely unlikely – particularly given that the aforementioned characters are Time Lords. We have therefore placed these events as taking place between the Big Finish audio dramas The Spectre of Lanyon Moor and The Apocalypse Element from Old Sixy’s perspective.
According to the guidance provided, from the seventh Doctor’s perspective these events take place between Master and Valhalla. This accords with the Doctor apparently travelling alone, and being depicted on the CD cover in his TV Movie getup. Nevertheless, we think that it would be more fitting if the Doctor’s seventh life drew to a resounding close with a final battle with the Master, and have placed Master accordingly. For the seventh Doctor, this story therefore takes between Project Lazarus and Valhalla.
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