Space Security Agent Sara Kingdom is dead, her ashes strewn on the planet Kembel. But, in an old house in Ely, Sara Kingdom lives on…


To the Elders of this ruined world, Sara is a ghost, a phantom that must be excised. She must prove her right to exist, and she does so with stories. Stories of a time when she travelled the universe with an ancient Doctor and his heroic companion Steven inside a magical space/time ship called the TARDIS.


And one story in particular could make a difference. The one about their trip to a world covered in water, where a human expedition is being wiped out. It’s a battle to survive, as the travellers face the horrors of the drowned world…



The Drowned World

JULY 2009









Home Truths has proven to be one of the most popular Companion Chronicles released to date. It comes as no great surprise, then, that producer David Richardson was quick to commission Simon Guerrier to pen this follow-up tale, as well as the third and final instalment that’s presently in the works: the tantalisingly-titled Guardian of the Solar System.


In many ways, The Drowned World is a natural extension of its predecessor, adhering to much the same structure, yet broadening the canvas considerably. The author’s script maintains the original play’s heightened sense of disquiet in the ‘present’, but this time recounts a ‘past’ adventure that is perhaps more scientific than spooky.


What I think makes this release so noteworthy though is that we spend almost as much time wallowing in the events unfolding in the haunted house in Ely as we do following the Doctor and his companions’ adventure on the asteroid. Indeed, both Sara – or, at least, her ghost – and Robert are developed considerably here, to the extent that Guerrier’s framing device often surpasses the story that Sara and Robert conspire to narrate. I think it speaks volumes that The Rising Tide’s cliffhanger hangs on the fate of the ghost, rather than the fate of the woman whom we all know must survive the story being told so that she can eventually meet her doom on Kembel.


Now this isn’t a criticism by any means – Jean Marsh and Niall McGregor’s characters are absorbing enough to sustain their own mini-series... which, I suppose, Guerrier’s nascent trilogy is. The depth that The Drowned World affords Robert and the “ruined world” that he hails from, for instance, begs a much more detailed exploration it itself.


Nevertheless, the Doctor Who story that is recited here is still extremely compelling. Certain elements - such as the carelessly greedy human miners – might be a little worn, but this is more than made up than the sheer ingenuity of the tale, and some of the profound imagery that it conjures. Some might say that it’s worth the purchase price alone just to listen to the Doctor hold back the tide.


Furthermore, the silver sea is certainly a captivating concept. It’s a fine example of a wholly alien protagonist; something that is so contrary to human life that it’s impossible to relate to it. Its nature and especially its effect on Sara imbue the whole affair with some particularly forceful subtext, lending the proceedings in Ely much more weight than they would otherwise have had.


A share of the plaudits must also go the director and her two sound designers. Together Lisa Bowerman, Richard Fox and Lauren Yason have constructed an auditory world within an auditory world that has its own exclusive ambience; a fusion of the eerie and the fantastic that most Doctor Who fans will find impossible to resist.


And so after the conspicuously unchallenging Stealers from Saiph, Big Finish’s Companion Chronicles return to grace with an ambitious season opener that encapsulates precisely why this distinctive range stands head and shoulders above everyday talking books.


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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