CD#4.07 (ISBN 1-8443

 5-481-8) RELEASED IN




 Christmas is a time

 for family, they say 

 – which is why the

 Doctor has invited

 his granddaughter

 Susan, and great-

 grandson Alex for

 Christmas dinner in

 his time and space

 machine. But who, or

 what, is the spectre

 at their yuletide



 Venturing deep into

 the dark heart of

 the TARDIS, Susan

 uncovers her past,

 Alex is told his 

 future – and the

 Doctor finds himself

 caught in a deadly

 dangerous present!




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Relative Dimensions








With all of time and space to explore at the cost of flushing a toilet backwards, one doesn’t really expect to come across a bottle show in this medium, but that is exactly what Relative Dimensions is – four characters trapped inside the TARDIS for Christmas with the walls (quite literally) closing in around them and a pan-dimensional piscine on the rampage.


This year’s festive special is once again presented as a one-hour episode, but that’s where the similarities to last year’s begin and end. Indeed, in every other important respect, Marc Platt’s story is the antithesis of Alan Barnes’ assiduously bleak Death in Blackpool. Typified by Jamie Robertson’s soaring yuletide soundtrack, Lucie’s lumpy gravy and the Time Lord’s recounting of the Nativity story from the perspective of a time-travelling Leonardo da Vinci, Relative Dimensions is as much a celebration as it is an exploration, yet on both fronts it excels.


Particularly in its first two thirds, Platt’s script has more in common with a traditional stage play than it does the dynamic audio dramas that Big Finish have become so renowned for. With the Doctor, Lucie, Susan and Alex all gathered for a supposedly reconciliatory festive nosh, tensions are inevitably running high, and Platt delights in milking every combination of characters for every ounce of drama that they’re worth, from the initially-antagonistic Lucie / Alex, to the Doctor and his granddaughter and how their positions have effectively switched since they traveled together. Back in the day, Susan was all screams and sympathy, but now she’s a mother fiercely protecting her son from a mad relative who’s intent on leading him astray. The Doctor, conversely, was an old mother hen in his first incarnation, his primary concern always his granddaughter’s welfare – now, however, he’s a reckless adventurer,

his martyrdom to caution having been excised from his life along with his former travelling companion’s bedrooms. In this respect, Relative Dimensions does much that An Earthly Child couldn’t afford to do in any great detail as it was such a sweeping adventure. Here

the emphasis is very much on character, as opposed to incident.


© Big Finish Productions 2010. No copyright infringement is intended.


As a result Relative Dimensions is a little light on

action, but not so that you’d notice. The Quinnis fish

was never intended to be more than just dressing; a

Christmas catastrophe to tear everyone apart and

then bring them back together. Even so though, one

has to admire Platt’s sleekness, not only in how he

fluently ties this adventure to its sister story, Quinnis,

but also in how he uses the provocative idea of the

Doctor’s “companion shrines” as a launching pad

for both his science fiction plot and larger character

story. The very idea of the Doctor giving Susan her

old, perfectly-preserved room back is a charming

enough one in itself, but having this lead directly to

a threat that jeopardises her son’s life, highlighting

every concern that she has about having her grand-

father involved in his great-grandson’s life is totally inspired. It also gives rise to what I feel is a delicious pun in the blurb – “deadly dangerous present” indeed.


However, after the heaviness of Jonathan Morris’ two-part four-parter, nothing is presented too heavily here, and matters never get too saccharine either. The ensemble cast does a wonderful job with Platts fine script, with no one performer ever eclipsing any of the others.

I particularly enjoyed the scenes between Paul McGann and Carole Ann Ford though - their characters seem to fit together so very well – and I would certainly love to hear more from

the Jake McGann and Sheridan Smith combo, though I’m certain that’s on the cards, given the run’s penultimate episode’s unambiguous billing.


Relative Dimensions concludes with an ending that manages to be almost equally hopeful and maudlin, not to mention completely unexpected – though it’s hard to define “unexpected” in the context of a story that begins with two old mates shopping for the Christmas dinner in the subsequent January sales.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2011


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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