(ISBN 1-84435-102-5)





 Trapped on a dying

 world, the Doctor

 and Charley come

 face-to-face with

 those responsible

 for the war to end

 wars, while C'rizz

 tries to understand

 what has happened

 and learns the truth.


 Powerful forces

 are at work that

 not even a NUCLEAR

 holocaust can tame;

 natural forces that

 have the interest of

 Excelsior, the self-

 proclaimed saviour

 of her people.


 With Charley INJURED

 and C'rizz HAVING TO

 battle against the

 elements with some

 of the victims of war,

 one final, desperate

 hope presents itself

 to the travellers.


 But who will be the

 last to ESCAPE the

 planet? Who will

 have to stay behind?

 And will the Doctor,

 Charley and C'rizz

 live long enough to

 find out?


 PREVIOUS                                                                                  NEXT


The Last








I really can’t make up my mind about The Last. Set in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust, writer Gary Hopkins does an absolutely magnificent job of conveying the bleak terror of post-apocalyptic Bortresoye, and what’s more he handles the regulars with such dextrous aplomb that they are each developed far more in this one story than they were in

all the stories since The Creed of the Kromon put together. But here’s the rub – none of it counts. What was, until its final moments, one of the boldest and perhaps even one of the most powerful eighth Doctor audios dramas is completely undone in a last-minute twist.

Sordid details following…


The Last begins with the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz more or less as they were at the end

of the preceding adventure. Each character is tortured in his or her own unique way, yet camaraderie is brewing, and there is even a sense of hope about the TARDISless team. Then, over the course of the next two hours, Hopkins slowly melts each of them.


The Doctor, for instance,

has to watch as Kro’ka

summons ghostly images

of long-since deceased

companions Adric and

Katarina, almost taunting

him about the trauma that

is to follow. As matters

progress he then sees Charley crippled, then murdered by Excelsior (Bortresoye’s loathsome ruler) and C’rizz isn’t far behind her. By the final episode, the Doctor is burning; a bitter, vengeful man. He even goes so far as to tell Excelsior that, although he has never hated anyone in all his lives, he hates her. Paul McGanns performance in these scenes is understated and noxious, really conveying to the listener just how utterly broken and desperate his character has become.


C’rizz is also put through the emotional meat-grinder, bombarded with the phantoms of dead Bortresoyans, who appear every bit as real to him as his friends do. But such things are only the beginning for the Eutermesan as he is put in the most agonising of positions when the paralysed Charley asks him to end her life, as he once did for his lover, L’da. He refuses of course, but this only causes him more anguish in the long run as after Charleys murder, he’s so distraught that he’s on the verge of suicide. Even once he has reluctantly chosen life, I supposefor the sake of the Doctor, his anger towards Charleys killer proves his undoing

as he threatens her and she shoots him dead; just like that.


Hopkins’ script doesn’t characterise Charley particularly well, however. Her reaction to her paralysis is surprisingly nonchalant, and though she can be rather selfish and impetuous on occasion, I still don’t think she’d be heartless enough to put C’rizz in the position that she does here.


As much as I love the character, I can’t help but think that she might have been better of staying dead here. Kroka’s poignant memento mori at the beginning of this story serves

to remind us exactly how effective the death of a companion can be, and in this Divergent universe with his TARDIS gone, the loss of a companion could potentially push the Doctor over the edge and make for some truly astonishing drama. I love the idea of him, scarred and alone, heading off into unknown space in a retro space rocket. It’s certainly a far more alluring proposition than having him stumble onward through these zones, friends in tow.


Unfortunately though, the events of this story are resiled from completely as Hopkins literally presses the reset button. It’s not quite deus ex machina, however – the emotional turmoil of the events portrayed, not to mention their physical consequences, are undone, but the play’s climax does at least offer us some insight into the workings of this new universe. It seems that Bortresoye is not just another zone on the Crucible World, but the Crucible World itself. Additionally, and perhaps more significantly, this universe, though free of time as we know

it, certainly has its own circular equivalent…


On a final note, though the cast of this play each give incredible performances, I really have to single out Carolyn Jones for particular praise. Excelsior is such a vile, repugnant, moral black hole of a woman that it would have been all too easy to play her hammed up to the hilt, ranting and raving like a loon. But Jones is cool and composed, her every word underscored with delicately balanced spite. It’s a frightening performance.


Generally speaking, I think it’s fair to say that on a minute-by-minute basis, ninety-nine per cent of The Last is absolutely peerless audio drama. Regrettably though, that one per cent rub-it-all-out ending really left me seething. For almost two hours I couldn’t believe how bold and how brilliant this play was... and then, of course, I realised that it was neither.


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.

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