AUDIO REVIEW: The War To End All Wars

The Companion Chronicles:
The War To End All Wars
By Simon Guerrier

Starring Peter Purves

Out Now

Review by Nick Fraser

Presenting a sequel of sorts to the 1966 First Doctor adventure The Savages, the latest Big Finish "Companion Chronicle" opens with an older and wiser Steven Taylor. The bold experiment, appointing him as leader of the Elders and the Savages has not ended well, with The Doctor’s former companion held captive by the society of which he was once king.

At the prompting of his granddaughter Sida (Alice Haig), Steven gradually reveals by reference to an earlier adventure with The Doctor and Dodo, how he ended up in his current predicament. What follows is an intelligent exploration of the absolute folly of war, all set on a planet in a near permanent state of conflict.

The Doctor is arrested as a subversive element early on in Steven’s narrative, leaving Steven and Dodo having to survive on their wits. Their story plays out over a significant period of time, as the two of them gradually become assimilated into the relentless planet-wide war.

This audio adventure doesn’t shy away from the horrors of trench warfare, drawing on elements of the original “War To End All Wars”, the First World War. The writing, and Peter Purves’s narration, are particularly strong here in describing the exhaustion, fear and futility of an attritional war: but all without in any way being exploitative.

This reviewer has a soft spot for this particular combination of the TARDIS team, and it was easy to imagine Steven and Dodo working together (with some bickering), trying to challenge the deeply-ingrained system in place on the planet Comfort. There’s a particularly enjoyable cliffhanger midway through the story, not to be spoilered by me.

Peter Purves belies the passage of time in his performance as the younger Steven, with the narrative structure allowing a more reflective performance as the older, present-day version. His portrayal of The Doctor imparts the perfect mix of mischief and delight in his own cleverness, and Purves even captures Dodo’s occasionally wandering accent.

Simon Guerrier’s story creates a dystopian society, populated by Orwellian politicians spouting platitudes and doublespeak, a challenging environment for The Doctor, Steven and Dodo to battle their way through. A thought-provoking audio experience, and highly recommended.

Thanks to Big Finish

Review by Nick Fraser 

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