The Elixir of Doom
by Paul Magrs
Starring Katy Manning and Derek Fowlds
The unexpected appearance of a Big Red Bus outside the Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Boulevard signals the bold and brassy arrival of Big Finish’s Doctor Who spin-off adventuress, Iris Wildthyme. She’s accompanied by Jo Jones (nee Grant), former companion of the Third Doctor and they’re pitched straight into an escapade at the “enjoyable romp” end of the Who spectrum.
The two form an entertaining combination, and a vocal work-out for Katy Manning who does an excellent job throughout, voicing both characters. Iris and Jo have connections with events in Hollywood: the former having been there years earlier, unwittingly setting events in motion, the latter (with the Doctor) having been there some forty years later to witness events coming to a close.
From larking around with a mobile phone in full view of movie cameras, deliberately attempting to create an anachronism (“That’ll mess up the fanboys!”) to carelessly leaving behind the titular Elixir of Doom during her earlier visit, Iris Wildthyme’s attitude to time travel is cast in rather stark contrast to the Doctor’s more responsible approach. This places Jo in the role as the practically-minded, moral centre of events while Iris glories in partying, knocking back the Bombay Sapphire and flirting with all and sundry.
But the Number 22 bus is not the only time ship parked in 1933 Hollywood. Breezing in to the middle of a party hosted by horror movie starlet Vita Monet (Manning again) and the latest of her string of husbands, Monsieur Claude (Derek Fowlds), Iris spies a familiar time lord amongst their entourage. Events are soon set in motion by the arrival at the party of Lizard Man, one of Vita’s monstrous co-stars.
For those who enjoy their dose of Doctor Who with a frothy topping, this adventure is unquestionably for them. Paul Magrs’ dialogue is gleefully seized by Katy Manning, rolling back the years as Jo, and in full-throated form as both Iris Wildthyme and Vita Monet. This is an audio adventure whose entertainment comes in particular from the expansive performances, as much as from the story itself. It’s a lightweight, entertaining adventure set in motion by some “temporal unseemliness” on Wildthyme’s part, unwittingly resulting in Vita Monet’s ex-husbands forming a motley parade of monsters.
With no knowledge of Iris Wildthyme’s prior adventures required (apparently forming quite a back-story), this is an evocation of brash, glitzy camp (sample dialogue “he hissed at me over his banana daiquiri”) and a broadly-sketched enjoyable hour(ish) of fun.
I should declare at this point that I enjoyed The Gunfighters.
BLOGTOR RATING 9/10
Thanks to Big Finish
Labels: Big Finish, big finish audio drama, big finish review, doctor who audio review, Dr Who Audio, The Elixir of Doom, The Elixir of Doom review