(ISBN 1-84435-162-9)





 London 1851. Scene of

 the Great Exhibition.

 Scene also of a plot

 to dethrone the QUEEN

 and start a republic. 

 AT LEAST, If the Duke

 of Wellington is to be



 While the Doctor and

 Charley are drawn

 into the murky world

 of nineteenth-century

 politics, C'rizz HAS TO

 struggle to maintain

 his dignity against

 growing odds.


 And who is Mrs

 Georgina Marlow?

 What need does she

 feel the Doctor can



 What begins as an

 attempt to prevent

 murder becomes a

 desperate race to

 avert revolution.

 Separated from the


 travellers are left

 to wonder if they'll

 get their own lives

 back or be forever

 entangled with the

 lives of others.



 PREVIOUS                                                                                  NEXT


Other Lives








I’m not keen on Big Finish sticking a lengthy trailer for Pier Pressure right at the beginning of the first CD, before the first episode has even begun. This is audio drama, after all, not the cinema! Fortunately the begrudging push of a button was all that it took to skip the ill-placed ad and kick Other Lives into action, allowing me to lose myself a surprisingly light-hearted Victorian fantasia and leave such trifling concerns in 2005.


Gary Hopkins’ adventure revolves around the conceit that the Doctor and his companions each have a double in 1851. Charley and C’rizz’s doubles are two French aristocrats who have unwittingly absconded with the TARDIS, and for the Doctor, much more interestingly,  his look-alike is a missing married man: Doctor Edward Marlow. For the majority of the tale we follow the three travellers assuming these other lives, the Doctor posing as the husband of Georgina Marlow so that she won’t lose her home to the odious (and onomatopoeic!) Mr Rufus Dimplesqueeze, and Charley posing as the female French toff in an attempt to stave off revolution until the real one turns up. C’rizz eventually ends up alongside her, posing as the male Frenchman, but his journey is longer and darker than that of his companion…


A Eutermesan in 1851 – what would the locals think? Before this obvious point was made outright in one of the play’s first scenes, it hadn’t really registered with me. In more than forty years of Doctor Who, such an issue has never come up, as the Doctor’s previous travelling companions from other worlds, not to mention the errant Time Lord himself, all appeared human. It comes as no surprise then, that as soon as C’rizz leaves the safety of the TARDIS he is lynched by Jacob Crackles Esquire, proprietor of a local freak show. C’rizz is promptly stripped, beaten and forced to appear as a carnival attraction.


C’rizz section of the plot is much more harrowing than that of his friends, not only ostensibly, but also in how it explores the unstable side of his persona. Once again he is visited by the many personalities that exist in his head, forcing him to extract the most heinous revenge on his former tormentor. I can’t wait to see what happens to Conrad Westmaas’ character in the long-term; he is rapidly becoming a favourite of mine. What’s more, Crackles, says I, has to be one of the most memorable supporting characters that Big Finish have ever given to us. A thoroughly nasty piece of work, Mike Holoway brings a surfeit of wit and charm to the role of C’rizz cruel tormentor, not to mention some beautifully Dickensian catchphrases. Tell me I’m wrong…


The Doctor’s thread of the

narrative is much lighter,

but isnt without its share

of danger. The character

of Griswold causes him a

bit of nuisance, but apart

from that Paul McGann’s

Doctor spends the story

sensitively handling the

troubled Mrs Georgina Marlow, who is touchingly portrayed by India Fisher’s sister, Francesca Hunt. Georgina’s

husband, Edward, vanished almost a year ago and now she will lose her home unless the

Doctor, who bares an uncanny resemblance to her husband (save for the Doctor’s lack of

facial hair – I guess that must be Edward on the CD’s front cover!), can convince Edward’s

Uncle (who owns the house) that he is indeed her husband. This rather contrived situation

allows us to see the Doctor in the unfamiliar situation of domestic life, something that rather

fascinatingly seems to become more and more appealing to the old Time Lord as the story

progresses. It’s also great to see McGann being allowed to play the eighth Doctor as he did

before the Divergent universe arc – witty, charming and ingenious with an unparalleled lust for life. Hes back.


Charley is also given a lot to do, though save for one quite amusing misunderstanding with the aforementioned Mr Dimplesqueeze, she also enjoys the lighter side of the adventure. The Adventuress becomes embroiled in the elderly Duke of Wellington’s (superbly brought to life by the legendary Ron Moody) scheme to cover-up the disappearance of the French aristocrats, enjoying some entertaining, almost flirtatious banter with the Iron Duke, earning her the scorn of his unlikeable assistant, Fazackerley. And so despite Charley not going on any sort of ‘emotional journey’ here as the Doctor and C’rizz do, for sheer entertainment this is probably the character’s strongest outing since Scherzo.


If Other Lives did have a weakness, it would be its lack of a real science fiction plot, but it

is this very feature that sets it apart and makes it the Hartnell-esque success that it is. There are no aliens or monsters here, nor are there even any contemporary threats of substance. Hopkins’ story simply places the regulars in some unusual and intriguing situations, and if you’re willing to accept the unexplained convenience of their doubles, then you’re in for a relentlessly enjoyable ride.


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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