by Alan Barnes 

Out Now

Enemy Aliens is the eighth installment of Destiny of The Doctor, the joint-venture between AudioGo and Big Finish, this time featuring Paul McGann’s Doctor.

1935: The Doctor and his companion of the same era, Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Pollard receive a message from a Time Lord in need and end up in London’s West End in search of a mysterious alien, their only clue, “William Tell.” The pair are separated and have to work hard to discover just who are these Enemy Aliens and how can they save Great Britain. 

It’s an interesting choice of companion for this audio series. Paul McGann’s Doctor has only officially appeared as the Time Lord once in the 1999 TV Movie (and in a few compilation clips in the post-2005 series). If this audio were to follow the pattern of the other Destiny of The Doctor stories we would have a story told from the point of view of one of his on-screen companions: Doctor Grace Holloway or Asian-American gangster Chang Lee. The Eighth Doctor has experienced a much more enduring tenure in the audio medium and subsequently has the advantage here. He’s has had many companions, but the most prominent and probably longest serving is Charlie.

India Fisher (voice of BBC One’s Masterchef fact fans, pictured right) is wonderful as Charlie and does an excellent job narrating this new adventure. You can really tell she is a voice artist. Where previously in this series companions reading a story and voicing multiple characters might falter, India exceeds expectations. The wonderful Michael Maloney (The White Queen, Hamlet, Babel, The Young Victoria) is excellent as always but is woefully underused.

The story here feels like a 30’s version of John Buchan’s 39 Steps (1915). It takes our characters on a road adventure and sees a wonderful climax and a timely end for the stories true villain; although rather unusually leaves the story with almost a semi cliffhanger. It’s hilarious to hear the Doctor exclaiming, “Rossini” instead of the memorable “Puccini” from the TV movie; he clearly has a thing for composers. The story seems to take a slight dip in the middle when the Doctor and Charlie are separated; this gives Charlie’s character a chance to shine but the plot comes to a grinding halt until the the time-traveling pair are reunited. With Alan Barnes penning this story you can always be assured plenty of subtle reference to classic Who and a group of strongly developed characters.

The choice to use Charlie as the companion and narrator here is both a strong one and a risky one. Being a proponent of the Big Finish Eighth Doctor audio series, means celebrations as we get to see more of Charlie, but as a newer listener, this choice may alienate listeners who are new to the genre. As this is meant to be the target audience for these releases it seems an odd decision.

Enemy Aliens is a little slow in the middle but overall it’s a fun adventure for a Doctor, who never really had the chance he deserved and, for me at least, a Doctor of which I can never get enough.

Thanks to AudioGo