CD#2.2 (ISBN 1-84435-





 When a test flight  ends in disaster,

 the Sirius Exhibition

 Station is plunged

 into a web of murder

 and intrigue. Someone

 – or something – is

 trying to re-ignite

 a war between the

 Varlon Empire and

 the Kith Oligarchy.


 As the fate of the

 galaxy hangs in the

 balance, only two

 investigators, the

 Doctor and Lucie,

 can hope to uncover

 the truth.







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Max Warp








Max Warp is inevitably going to down as one of those love ‘em or hate ‘em sort

of jobs. Listeners who insist that their monthly dose of eighth Doctor must be crammed with death and disaster will no doubt loathe Jonathan Morris’ whimsical offering, but I believe that

such listeners will be in the minority.


Unsurprisingly, Morris’ story reminded me of his script for Flip-Flop, chiefly in terms of the darkly comic but very detailed world that he builds. On balance though, this one probably

has much more in common with audio dramas like The One Doctor and BANG-BANG-A-BOOM! If you liked those, then you will love this.


Whoever it was on the CD Extras that

described Max Warp as “Top Gear in

space meets Agatha Christie” has hit

the nail right on the head. A shameless

and often downright uproarious parody

of Top Gear, Max Warp casts Paul

McGann’s Doctor in the familiar role of

sleuth, investigating the apparent death of Max Warp presenter Timbo (Duncan James from

Blue) in a suspicious spaceship crash. Meanwhile Sheridan Smith’s ‘Lucie Vauxhall Nova’

steps into the breach left by Timbo, joining the bumbling O’Reilly (James Fleet of The Vicar

of Dibley fame) and the misogynistic, arrogant and opinionated Jeremy Clarkson Geoffrey

Vantage (former Goodie Graeme Garden) as the new co-presenter of Max Warp. It certainly isn’t hard to see why the Big Finish production team fell in love with this pitch!


In contrast to last month’s Dead London, the Doctor and Lucie are together for most of this episode and they share some moments of peril, although these generally end hilariously – the spaceship crash that is really inside a simulator, and the robotic ‘spindroid’ that really is a man in a suit (which Lucie didn’t think looked very convincing anyway) particularly spring to mind.


© Big Finish Productions 2008. No copyright infringement is intended.


McGann and Smith are both absolutely outstanding in this episode, Smith perhaps slightly outdoing McGann as the story panders more to the humour of her character - her scenes with Clarkson Vantage are priceless! Credit certainly has to be given to Garden too though; what a performance. Had they hired Clarkson himself, I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.


I think what stands out most of all about the episode though is the redolent sound design. Andy Hardwick has rustled up the most exquisite little theme tune for Max Warp; it has a

sort of Men and Motors feel to it. In fact, some of the chords are so close to the Top Gear theme tune that he’s risking litigation! More than that though, the west country accents of the Kith Oligarchy, the farcically-retro spindroid voices, the alien karaoke (available to listen to

in full on the CD Extras), not to mention the roar of the spaceship engines “entering max warp” really help to paint a vibrant and distinctive picture in the listener’s mind – no small

feat considering what a visual episode Max Warp actually is.


The real beauty of producing a series of these stand-alone episodes though must be that they can easily appeal to casual Doctor Who fans, and potentially even non-fans. There are no overhanging story arcs to be found here and no prior knowledge is required, something that I feel is demonstrated by Briggs and Edwards’ casually shuffling the season’s running order without the need for rewrites. Indeed, my fiancée’s Granddad, a non Doctor Who fan but a Top Gear devotee, would most certainly revel in this glorious pastiche of one of his favourite shows. I know what he’s getting for Christmas…


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2008


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