The Companion Chronicles: Starborn
by Jacqueline Rayner
Starring Maureen O’Brien & Jacqueline King
just after their hasty departure from Nero’s Rome and before their
peculiar encounters on the Planet Vortis, Jacqueline Rayner’s Starborn
provides a short, but thoughtful and poignant interlude in the
adventures of The Doctor, Barbara, Ian and Vicki. This is very much
Vicki’s story and Maureen O’Brien transports the listener back in time,
in the company of the eager, slightly gawky teenaged traveller from the
Just on the point of departure from a visit
to the abode of a spiritualist, Vicki is urgently summoned to return to
take part in an impromptu séance, at the behest of Madam Violet, played
with just the right levels of dramatic flourishes and gossipy
exasperation by Jacqueline King (best known as Donna Noble's mum, Sylvia). Initial contact is made with Madam
Violet’s contact to the spirit world, one Appius Octavius Crispus but it
soon becomes apparent that the urgent contact from beyond is in fact
coming from Vicki herself, or at least a future version.
a clever construct upon which to allow the narration to proceed, with
present day Vicki’s scepticism gradually being eroded, aware that the
unfolding story is leading her towards a potentially grim conclusion.
She learns of the TARDIS’s forthcoming arrival on an exotic planet,
bathed in perpetual light from a web of radiance, literally composed of
Her future self describes a developing
friendship with one of the fledgling star people, Anet, a fellow
teenager who is due to ascend and take her place in the aerial network.
The Doctor agrees that the TARDIS crew will stay to witness events,
during which time the teenage girls’ friendship continues to grow.
are intriguing moments scattered throughout future Vicki’s narration to
suggest there may be more to her tale than might first appear, and
these little “hold on, did she just say…?” moments cleverly draw the
listener further into the story, just as present-day Vicki seizes upon
these apparent inconsistencies.
The story takes a darker
turn at the point of Anet’s ascension, with the sudden arrival of a band
of female space pirates seeking to take advantage of the resulting
weakness in the planet’s living star network, hoping to drain its power
for their own purposes. It’s at that point that Vicki’s ultimate fate
is about to be revealed.
Maureen O’Brien is excellent as
Vicki, the cynical teenager whose faith is firmly placed in science
rather than the spirit world, but who finds these certainties gradually
eroded by a growing sense of doubt. She also offers a creditable
version of the First Doctor, and the rather fey starborn of the title,
Anet. Jacqueline King’s medium, Madam Violet stays just the right side
of over-the-top and between them they breathe life into a compact,
poignant tale of friendship, redemption and loss.
Rayner perfectly captures Vicki’s perky and amused speech patterns, but
doesn’t waste the opportunity to reveal additional facets to her
character: an orphan lucky enough to have found the perfect replacement
family waiting for her in the TARDIS.
BLOGTOR RATING 7.5/10
Thanks to Big Finish
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