CD#4.01 (ISBN 1-8443

 5-401-6) RELEASED IN




 Lucie Miller always

 loved Christmas back

 home in Blackpool.

 Her Mam running a

 still-frozen turkey

 under the hot tap at

 ten. Great-Grandma

 Miller half-cut on

 cooking sherry by

 eleven. Her Dad and

 her uncle arguing

 hammer and tongs

 about who was the

 best James Bond all

 through dinner.


 And in the afternoon,

 Aunty Pat, haring up

 to the house on the

 back of SOME moped

 weighed down with

 ridiculous presents.


 Christmas 2009 didn't

 turn out like that.


 Christmas 2009, the

 Doctor turned up…



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Death in Blackpool








Death in Blackpool isn’t a title that one instantly associates with the jingling

of sleigh bells, nonetheless it is the name given to Big Finish’s first out-and-out Christmas Special, and it’s as a clear and as representative a label as ever I’ve come across. Rather than compete with the colour and the spectacle of the television series’ previous yuletide romps, Alan Barnes’ script instead pays homage to another festive ritual – the domestic misery and death of British soap.


Charged with bringing Lucie Miller’s travels in time and space to a memorable and affecting end, Barnes’ story goes down the excruciating road of driving a wedge between the Doctor and his companion. Despite what many of us inferred from the story’s title, Lucie doesn’t die here, but her relationship with the Doctor does. Death in Blackpool sees Lucie discover the truth about what happened to her Aunty Pat in 1985; the truth that the Doctor and Pat’s body-usurping husband, Hagoth, conspired to keep from her. And when she does, it knocks the Doctor off his pedestal, leaving Lucie tearful and alone on a Blackpool beach, a cold breeze blowing up the back of her surgical gown. It all comes out at Christmas, see…


Barnes’ handles the breakdown of the relationship between the two regulars with agonising aplomb, and both Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith really make the most of the material. Smith is especially impressive, right from her opening “chuff” to her final denunciation of the imperfect Doctor.


© Big Finish Productions 2009. No copyright infringement is intended.

“As I said love, I’m a porter. I move folk about…”


Our leads are challenged every step of the way, however, by the dazzling supporting cast. Helen Lederer’s (Absolutely Fabulous) turn as the erstwhile Zygon warlord masquerading as his dead spouse, Lucie’s Aunty Pat, is wonderfully enchanting. I love how she conveys the duality of the unique character, particularly in her tender scenes at Lucie’s bedside and her passionate moral debates with the Doctor.


David Schofield, similarly, does an astounding job with Billy / Landak, the play’s antagonist. Landak is a Zynog - a Zygon exile, cast out from his people as punishment for stealing  the body print of a fellow Zygon. Forced to live in the bodies of the brain-dead, Landak prays upon those whose minds are close to death, but whose bodies are still tenable – those like his recent hit and run victim, Lucie Miller…


Indeed, for a story inspired by the scandals

of soap, Death in Blackpool is a wonderfully

effective chiller. Much of the narrative takes

place within the eerie coma world that exists

inside the injured Lucie’s mind; a world not

populated with Audi Quattros and colourfully-

drawn police mavericks, but manipulative,

body-hopping aliens with a knack for turning

the motives and feelings of their quarry against



© Big Finish Productions 2009. No copyright infringement is intended.

“Merry Christmas everyone!”


However, Barnes’ bleak midwinter is lightened slightly by Jon Glover’s out of work, Brummie Father Christmas. Particularly in the first half of the story, Glover’s character really injects the proceedings with some much-needed levity. I especially like how, for about three quarters of the running time, all the characters refer to him as “Father Christmas”, and speak to him as if he were actually the genuine article. It lends the play a surreal, drunken quality that positively reeks of Christmas.


Overall then, my only real complaint about Lucie’s swansong would be that after the promise of the blurb, we don’t ever get to meet the Millers! Fortunately though, this is more than made up for by a suitably spooky and emotionally-draining script, some outstanding performances, and ending that will rip you right in two.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2010


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.



When is now? This release’s blurb writer clearly didn’t get the memo, as the dialogue makes it clear that these events are set during Christmas 2008, not 2009. That’s right – as the Lucie is bidding the Doctor a painful adieu on a Blackpool beach, the starship Titanic is hurtling towards Buckingham Palace!


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Doctor Who is copyright © by the BBC. No copyright infringement is intended.