On a planet called Heaven, all hell is breaking loose.


Heaven is a cemetery for both humans and Draconians - a final place of rest for those lost during wartime. The Doctor arrives on a trivial mission - to find a book, or so he says - and Ace, wandering around Joycetown, becomes involved with a charismatic Traveller called Jan.


But the Doctor is strenuously opposed to the romance. What is he trying to prevent? Is he planning some more deadly game connected with the coffins revered by the mysterious Church of Vacuum and the unusual Arch that marks the location of a secret building below ground?


Archaeologist Bernice Summerfield thinks so. Her destiny is inextricably linked with that of the Doctor, but even she may not be able to save Ace from the Time Lord's plans.


This time, has the Doctor gone too far?






© Big Finish Productions 2012. No copyright infringement is intended.

Love and War







Love and War may not be Big Finish’s first foray into Virgin territory, but it’s without a doubt their most exciting. It’s one thing to revisit the era for a brand new New Adventure, or to surgically remove the Doctor from an existing one, but to attempt a full cast audio adaptation of one of the range’s most popular and most influential novels is an incredibly alluring venture. As Ace herself might say, respect is due.


Paul Cornell’s novel was chosen to be dramatised to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Bernice Summerfield - a companion who, long ago in an English autumn, unwittingly stumbled into a life of prose that continued well beyond the Doctor’s final New Adventure, eventually snowballing into an audio drama franchise that, quite fittingly, led to Big Finish’s acquisition of the Doctor Who license and the surviving classic series’ Doctors renaissance. Love and War marked Benny’s first full appearance, which means that this unique project allowed Lisa Bowerman to breathe life into the character as she was originally written – an orphan of the Dalek war, a phoney academic, a drunken brawler, a bashful exhibitionist, a (with hindsight, very apt) re-writer of her own history. And Bowerman nails it. Absolutely nails it.


Pleasingly, scriptwriter Jacqueline Rayner does likewise – there are no post-it notes slapped across passages that don’t sit well with the Big Finish ethos or its own seventh Doctor audio dramas. This adaptation is as faithful to the original text as it could possibly be, retaining concepts as controversial as the sixth Doctor’s demise at the hands of the seventh; his dealings with Death (played here, as she was in Master, by the chilling Charlie Hayes); the third Doctor’s harrowing decade alone in the TARDIS, dying a slow and painful death at the end of Planet of the Spiders; and, of course, the seventh Doctor’s callous betrayal of Ace. Whilst admittedly it’s been many years since I last read Cornell’s contentious tale of doubts and dirigibles on Heaven, this audio drama instantly evokes the feel of that illicit and tattered old tome, albeit with a Big Finish injection of pace and vigour. Rayner has cut the padding, kept the heart.


As it stood, Cornell’s story always fascinated me as it hammered home the lengths that the Doctor would go to save the universe; the sacrifices that he’d be prepared to make. This is the story where, for Seven, life and death becomes a matter of maths. Accordingly, the performed version of Love and War is able to outshine the printed version as Sylvester McCoy’s take on Time’s Champion – “The man that monsters are afraid of…” – is as surprising as it is disturbing. In print, the manipulative seventh Doctor often came across as being a little too calculating and a little to aloof for comfort. Many of the revived series’ staples and soubriquets can be traced back to the New Adventures, and to Love and War in particular, but, even in their darkest moments, the revived series’ Doctors don’t come close to the printed seventh when it comes to detachment. In this adaptation, the story’s events, even its dialogue, remain much the same, but McCoy’s delivery is dripping with inexorable melancholy. The anger evoked by the Doctor’s deliberate actions is tempered a little by the profound sadness that McCoy exudes in his performance, offering listeners a new perspective on determining events.


© Big Finish Productions 2012. No copyright infringement is intended.


Before listening to the play, I had wondered how Sophie Aldred would play Love and War’s distinctive version of Ace. Despite being portrayed in a few earlier novels as being much more grown-up and hardened than the character was ever seen on television (Cat’s Cradle: Warhead in particular springs to mind), both Mark Gatiss’s Nightshade and Love and War harked back to the ‘little girl lost’ who’s easily played by the Doctor, which I feared might sit ill with Aldred’s now-habitual, much more seasoned, Big Finish turns. To her credit though, Aldred perfectly pitches her performance here, offering listeners a little of the maturity found in her recent Big Finish outings, together with the vulnerability of the television series’ and early New Adventures’ angry youth. The propinquity of Ace’s old friend Julian’s death and her distant relationship with her mother (superbly realised by Maggie Ollerenshaw) allows the two sides of the character to shine through beautifully here – she’s still credibly the wayward youth off the telly, but the cynical, leather-clad soldier is audibly nascent within.


“And far away in time and space, deep in the butterfly tunnel of the Space / Time Vortex, flew a police box that was not a police box. Inside the box, a Time Lord stood in a darkened laboratory, and listened to what the universe was saying to him. It was whispering about dirigibles and doubts, about things that had been lost from memory, and terrible pain that would happen in the near future. From a nearby room, Ace called out in a nightmare. But the Doctor reacted… not at all. He was being told a story that was soon going to become history; a story about love… and war.”


Aldred’s duties aren’t limited to sowing the seeds of ‘New Ace’ though; she’s also charged with narrating the Companion Chronicles-style prelude to Love and War’s two episodes that opens the set’s third disc. The inclusion of this lyrically-lush titbit is not only a wonderful bonus for the completists, but also for those like myself who’ve never been able to track down a copy of the issue of Doctor Who Magazine that it first appeared in, and its inclusion also means that Bowerman truly does get a crack at playing Benny’s first scene. "You know I'm waiting..." she told the mushrooms. "Anticipating!"


© Virgin 1992. No copyright infringement is intended.


Finally, I must commend Big Finish’s presentation of the CDs. Andy Lambert’s ‘Heaven and Hoothi’ cover art is clearly inspired by Lee Sullivan’s cartoonish cover for the book (above), but has been duly darkened, and crowned with a photomontage of the three performers whose performances here will no doubt move a large proportion of the novel’s original readership, and I dare say many more Big Finish devotees besides.


If Love and War ultimately proves to be Big Finish’s only true New Adventures adaptation, then these two extended episodes will serve as a fitting tribute to both the Virgin range, and the irrepressible archaeologist that they begat. I have to hope, though, that it will prove to be such a commercial success that they won’t be able to do anything but tackle the best or even the rest of the New Adventures, and perhaps even the sprawling body of Who literature that they spawned. Whilst I can understand a company’s desire to commission fresh scripts and puts its own stamp on a brand, Doctor Who is, and forever will be, about time travel, and I’m going to dare to dream that, one day, Big Finish will deign to take us back to the 1990s for some more old New Adventures.





“A dragon lives forever, but not so little boys.
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more.
And Puff, that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.
His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain.
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.
Without his life-long friend, Puff could not be brave.
So Puff, that mighty dragon, sadly slipped into his cave…”






Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006, 2012


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Design

 and Patents Act 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.



Love and War posits that the third Doctor spent ten subjective years alone in the Time Vortex in Planet of the Spiders before finally reaching Earth and regenerating. It also heavily implies that the sixth Doctor (“the colourful jester”) willingly sacrificed himself to become the seventh (“Time’s Champion”). This would initially seem to be at odds with how the sixth Doctor’s demise is depicted in the later novels Time’s Champion and Spiral Scratch, however we are never likely to find out what went through the sixth Doctor’s mind when he finally succumbed to his death throes.


This novel also marks the first use of the Doctor’s ‘Oncoming Storm’ soubriquet, which is used here by the Draconians.


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