There’s a house across the waters at Ely where an old woman tells a strange story.


About a kind of night constable called Sara Kingdom. And her friends, the Doctor and Steven. About a journey they made to a young couple’s home, and the nightmarish things that were found there. About the follies of youth and selfishness. And the terrible things even the most well-meaning of us can inflict on each other.


Hear the old woman's story. Then decide her fate.



Home Truths










Working my way through the back catalogue of Big Finish’s Companion Chronicles in something approaching their order of release, Home Truths was a tale that I couldn’t wait to tackle. The preceding twelve releases played it safe, using popular companions to tell traditional, even quite wistful tales that smacked of their respective eras. Home Truths, conversely, was the first to push the envelope; the first to inflame.


Half of those listening balked at the merest suggestion that ruthless Space Security agent Sara Kingdom was a bona fide companion, Doctor Who fans’ penchant for pigeon-holing friends and allies into rigid categories having proved something of a divisive sport over the years. And even if she were a ‘proper’ companion, she died at the end of her only television story, making her recital of an adventure many years after the event a tricky proposition, to say the least.


However, despite – or perhaps even because of - the fences facing, Home Truths has to be regarded as a stupendous success in anybody’s book. Simon Guerrier’s script turns each and every potential pitfall into a boon, making for one of the most original, unsettling and thought-provoking Companion Chronicles that I’ve heard.


For me, the most alluring aspect of this story was the rare opportunity to look beneath the surface of an intriguing companion that I knew precious little about. Whilst I’d watched the surviving episodes of The Daleks’ Master Plan and listened to the rest, going into Home Truths I still didn’t feel like I really knew the character. Hell, with just nine episodes under her belt, I was more familiar with the likes of Sabalom Glitz than I was Sara.


Nevertheless Sara has always fascinated me – there is just so much about her that sets her apart from her peers, particularly her fluffy 1960s counterparts. How many companions have been killed on the telly? How many have murdered their brothers? Sara ticks both boxes, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Guerrier does a tremendous job here of exploring the character’s anguish – indeed, as the story progresses it becomes more and more plain that the entire plot is built upon it. I particularly like how Guerrier draws us into Sara’s way of thinking, allowing us to see the universe through her black and white, “night constable” eyes, and also how he conveys the pressures and neuroses that come with a career spent putting right what has gone wrong, and seeing only the worst in everybody.


”Each new body threatens to be the one that’ll break you.“


Furthermore, Guerrier’s plot is almost as compelling as his superlative characterisation, working on two different levels as the narrative weaves between the two-hand audio drama of the present and the now-customary recounting of the past. Naturally it is the events of the past that form the story’s main focus, as Jean Marsh recounts a previously untold adventure featuring the Doctor, Steven and Sara from between their yuletide frolics in The Feast of Steven, and the resumption of their mission to halt the Daleks’ wretched plot in Volcano. However, the fully dramatised sections work every bit as well as the narration, particularly in the second episode as Robert’s true purpose and the final, tantalising line of the blurb - “Hear the old woman’s story. Then decide her fate” - are reconciled to agonising effect.


Marsh’s voice fits the creepy, claustrophobic tale like a glove, holding my interest through even the story’s slowest sections. Director Lisa Bowerman and sound designers Richard Fox and Lauren Yason have also done a superlative job with the post-production, evoking the feel of paranormal television series such as The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.


Of course, those reading this review who haven’t yet listened to Home Truths will no doubt be curious to learn how Sara is able to relate this tale from beyond the grave. Whilst I don’t intend to spoil the story’s final revelation here, I will say that Guerrier does a truly masterful job of resolving both threads of his Companion Chronicle in one fell swoop. Home Truths’ ending is both effective and intelligent, and it’s one that could only have worked so well in this medium. It’s not entirely unexpected, I’ll concede, but I don’t think that it’s supposed to be. Home Truths isn’t about a last-minute swerve - it’s about dawning realisations; about the gradual comprehension of home truths.


Altogether then, Home Truths is a story that indubitably warrants its soaring reputation. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I’m tempted to bump up its sequel, The Drowned World, to pole position on my shopping list. I’d like to see somebody vie that Sara Kingdom isn’t a ‘proper’ companion now…


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2010


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Design

 and Patents Act 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.



Whilst its framing story begins in Home Truths and concludes in The Guardian of the Solar System, the events of the ‘Sara Kingdom’ Companion Chronicles trilogy appear to take place in the opposite order to that they were released in. This is because Home Truths must happen after the other two stories (as the House doesn’t know about anything that happened to Sara thereafter), and an early line in The Guardian of the Solar System suggests that it happens almost immediately after The Feast of the Steven (Episode 7 of The Daleks’ Master Plan, after which the events of the trilogy are set). The Drowned World thus falls in between the two.


That said, we certainly wouldn’t countenance listening to the trilogy backwards - not unless you’d welcome an almighty headache.

                                         Thanks to Jason Robbins


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