CD#2.3 (ISBN 1-84435-


 MARCH 2008.



 The inhabitants of

 the quiet seaside

 town of Thorington

 are living the same

 day over and over



 What's so special

 about the 1st of

 September 1991?


 Why haven't the

 villagers noticed

 that the same song

 has been number

 one for years?


 And just where on

 Earth has the sea

 disappeared to?


 The Doctor must

 solve the mystery

 before the 'visitors'



 PREVIOUS                                                                                  NEXT


Brave New Town

MARCH 2008







Brave New Town builds upon the strong start to the season, Jonathan Clements’ script effortlessly fusing the classic and the new to create yet another episode that feels like a halfway house between the Doctor Who of old and the new Doctor Who that we enjoy on television today.


Of course, the major talking point of this episode is the return of the Nestene Consciousness and its Auton servants. Big Finish have gleefully resurrected most of the Doctor’s recurring foes from the classic television series, yet it has taken them almost a decade to bring back the Autons. And why? Well, as script editor Alan Barnes points out in the CD’s liner notes, “they didn’t seem a natural for audio” and, being almost exclusively mute, it isn’t difficult to see why. And so for Brave New Town to work at all, Clements had to reinvent the wheel.


The Autons that the Doctor and Lucie encounter here are not your standard shop window dummies. They are sophisticated human replicas; so convincing that even they aren’t aware of their true nature. Not only do they talk, but they happily live out bizarre parodies of British life on an island in Uzbekistan; an island where it is perpetually Sunday 1st September 1991. Unfortunately though, the TARDIS’ arrival coincides with the local military’s, and it isn’t long before an old, buried Nestene control unit is unburied and the docile Auton army receives a call to arms…


On the one hand, some may find Brave New Town disappointing because it doesn’t rehash the iconic Auton moments in the way that Rose did, for example. On the other hand though, I think that Clements has crafted a refreshing and inventive story that creates an exceptional dilemma for the Doctor. What we have here is not just another case of the Doctor versus the Autons; it’s more akin to an Earth Reptile story in that the Doctor is actually sympathetic to these “autonomous” Autons. He doesn’t want to wipe them out. He wants to help them to live out their lives, free of the Nestene’s controlling influence.


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


The episode’s rather indefinite ending also impressed me. Clements leaves the listeners hanging, unsure as to whether McCarthy and his troops are going to capture the Autons for scientific experimentation, or whether the Autons have indeed escaped and are off to lead the rest of their lives as refugees. I smell a sequel.


A great deal of credit once again has to be given to the director, Jason Haigh-Ellery, and his production team. Gareth Jenkins’ exquisite sound design really evokes that desolate, ghost town atmosphere that the script called for, and Andy Hardwick’s subtle score underlines the same. Better still, Jenkins has somehow managed to perfectly emulate that distinct ‘Auton hand turning into gun’ sound. Fantastic!


And of course, the play

would be nothing without

the cast. Derek Griffiths

stood out for me as Jason

Taylor, the world’s most

affable Auton, and Adrian

Dunbar is also worthy of

mention, not just in for his performance as McCarthy, but also for his interview comments!


Furthermore, as was the case in both Dead London and Max Warp, both Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith give absolutely spellbinding performances. Now that Lucie is free to return home - “but there’s no rush” - much of the transitory feeling that her first eight episodes had

is gone, and in its place is a certain zeal; an eagerness for adventure that is reminiscent of Rose Tyler. Best of all though, the eighth Doctor and Lucie are able to perpetuate that air of thinly-veiled antagonism towards each another without matters descending into bickering, sixth Doctor and Peri style. Consequently the Doctor / Lucie relationship feels very genuine; they’re great friends having a whale of a time, but she’s still embarrassed by his crap hair and frock coat, and he’s still sceptical of her northern charm…


On a final note, I’m not sure why the series hasn’t been broadcast on BBC 7 this year, but whatever the reason, the digital radio station is certainly missing out because in the eighth Doctor and Lucie, I think Big Finish have found their new flagship team.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2008


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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