CD#4.08 (ISBN 1-8443

 5-482-5) RELEASED IN

 JANUARY 2011.



 Six years after being

 captured by the org-

 anisation known only

 as The Consensus, the

 Doctor lives inside a

 hi-tech complex IN the

 heart of an unstable

 sun, condemned to an

 eternity maintaining

 its systems. A SINGLE


 could cause the star

 to collapse – and the

 deaths of billions.


 But rebel eyes have

 their eyes on the sun

 and its controller,

 and are prepared to

 risk even a galactic

 cataclysm to secure

 HIS release…




 PREVIOUS                                                                                  NEXT



of the Sun








This fourth season of eighth Doctor audio dramas has been punctuated with more twists, swerves and slights of hand than any that have preceded it, and Prisoner of the Sun continues the trend apace. Here Eddie Robson weighs in with a short and bittersweet script that casts past and future companion Sheridan Smith in two antagonistic android roles and places Paul McGann’s Doctor inside a prison that he can never hope to a escape; a prison that’s all of his own making – his character.


The premise is inspired. As every monster and villain in time and space knows, you can’t kill the Doctor – at least, not permanently – and if you lock him away, he’ll only escape. It might take him a few years to do so, in one or two exceptional cases, but eight hundred and ninety-eight times out of nine hundred, he’ll have sonicked his way out of his holding cell within the space of a couple of scenes. The solution? Lock him away inside the core of unstable star, set him the task of maintaining its stability, and convince him that if he should ever leave, the star will go nova, wiping out the two billion lives that depend on its heat.


I won’t spoil the story’s twists and turns; suffice it to say that Robson does a tremendous job of building up and maintaining the intrigue. Is the Doctor only a prisoner of his own sense of duty? Or is the revelation of the grand deception a deception in itself, designed to trick him into annihilating a star system? McGann gives a magnificently melancholic performance as his Doctor visibly wrestles with his desperate longing to leave and his self-appointed burden, before rising to the meet the challenge of living up to the impossible expectations of those that champion him.


© Big Finish Productions 2011. No copyright infringement is intended.


However, like the best stories in

this run, Prisoner is just as light

as it is heavy. The effects of the

Doctor’s isolation, for instance,

are not conveyed through syrupy

or maudlin dialogue, but through

his “customising” his android

assistants by giving them Lucie

Miller’s voice (and a fair few of

her character traits too). This then gives rise to a flood of humorous, even silly, moments that instil the production with a thoroughly endearing sense of charm.


The episode also boasts some remarkable supporting performances. As was the case with his Blue cohort in Max Warp, I was a bit skeptical as to how pop star Antony Costa may fare in an acting role, but his turn as Hagan is one of the finest in the play - I really couldn’t fathom his character’s intent until it was too late. Beth Chalmers is also on fine form here, bringing a whole new meaning to the word ‘mercurial’ in her character, whilst still preserving its old one in her performance. I look forward to hearing more from her later this year when she joins the ranks of Big Finish’s in-house companions in the seventh Doctor’s Lost Stories.


On a final note, Howard Carter must again be praised for his superlative sound design and score. As the principal events of this story take place deep within a particularly volatile sun, his soaring, blockbuster style is the perfect complement to the charged performances. At its best, this production sounds like a big-budget feature film.


Perhaps the best word to describe Prisoner of the Sun is ‘unique’. It puts a brand new twist on the ‘lone Doctor’ story, whilst offering us clues as to how, one day, the Time Lord might eventually come undone, and still managing to tell a cracking science fiction story to boot.

A beautiful coda to The Resurrection of Mars and a mouth-whetting lead-in to the season finale, Prisoner of the Sun is the perfect penultimate.


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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