THIS EPISODE TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE BIG
FINISH AUDIO DRAMAS
"GRAND THEFT COSMOS"
AND "SISTERS OF THE
BIG FINISH 8TH DOCTOR
CD#2.6 (ISBN 1-84435-
309-5) RELEASED IN
Ten years later and
Aunty Pat is in her
prime. She's snagged
herself an ex-rock
star at the Kendal
Folk Festival and
now, in the brave
new world of the
1980s they manage
together a snazzy
hotel on the poetic
and shingly shore
of Lake Grasmere.
waters run deep
and friends from the
past are returning,
intent on milking the
The Zygon Who
Fell To Earth
The title really gives this one away. Like Horror of Glam Rock last year, The
Zygon Who Fell to Earth is a compelling mix of music, mirth and mayhem. Paul Magrs
has excelled himself with another enchanting script and Tim Sutton and Barnaby Edwards are every bit equal to him with their music and direction. The whole play is sodden with a wonderful, almost celebratory feel.
Magrs clearly has had a lot of fun playing around with the Zygons. Whilst here they may lack the gravity that they possessed in earnest in prior outings, this is more than made up for by Magrs’ playful characters. Urtak, Grakus and Mims are far from being your non-specific alien foot soldiers; each has a distinct and memorable personality for Malcolm Stoddard, Katarina Olsson and former Goodie Tim Brooke-Taylor (Big Finish have had the full set now!) to revel in respectively.
PAT When you really love someone, you accept their foibles and their funny
habits. You learn to accept everything about their past. Even the bits
they want to forget… I never expected prejudice from you two. He’s
from outer space. So what? You’re the same, Doctor!
THE DOCTOR Quite, but I don’t destroy eco systems and enslave populations and
suck out people’s minds using organic crystallography, do I?
PAT Neither does Trevor.
Best of all though is Trevor; he’s simply a revelation. On the face of it, the idea of a ‘nice’ Zygon is completely and utterly implausible in the same way that a ‘nice’ Dalek or a ‘nice’ Sontaran is, yet Magrs makes it work. Furthermore, through his wonderfully unassuming performance, Steven Pacey really makes the listener believe that Trevor really does want nothing more than to enjoy a quiet life married to Lucie’s Aunty Pat and, better still, he is actually sincere! Talk about turning a tired old device on its head!
Turning to the regulars, Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith are both absolutely extraordinary here. Smith is given the opportunity to have great fun with the part, playing not only Lucie but also the Zygon impersonating her. The running gag of the pints of spirits is especially funny.
Magrs also manages to sneak a sly
reference to Mark Morris’ novel The
Bodysnatchers into this episode,
suggesting to those of us that care
that this current series of adventures
takes place not only after the Charley
and C’rizz plays, but also after BBC Books’ eighth Doctor novels. Despite
some writer’s attempts to carve up the
Whoniverse, I’m happy that some are still prepared to take a broad-brush approach, and I think that in this play – all mediums considered - McGann is the quintessential eighth Doctor.
By this point in his incarnation, the eighth Doctor is completely settled; completely himself. He isn’t trapped in a universe of anti-time, half in love with his companion, or stranded on Earth with a heart missing and the eradication of his people on his conscience. He’s just enjoying every second of travelling the universe with his best friend. In the CD liner notes Magrs refers to this Doctor’s “quiet incredulity” and “playfulness”, and I certainly couldn’t
put it any better. The Doctor that time almost forgot is back at the top of his game again…
And for a story that more often than not has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek, The Zygon Who Fell to Earth manages to catch the listener completely off guard with a wholly surprising and really quite affecting ending. You will have to buy it to believe it.
A wonderful play in every respect, The Zygon Who Fell to Earth is certainly my pick of the season to date. In a word, superb.
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.
The Doctor refers to his 19th century encounter with Zygons in the novel The Bodysnatchers, supporting our contention that the eighth Doctor and Lucie’s adventures together take place after BBC Books’ eighth Doctor novels and the restoration of the Time Lords.
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