AUDIO REVIEW: Breaking Bubbles and Other Stories

Breaking Bubbles and Other Stories
by LM Myles, Mark Ravenhill, Una McCormack & Nev Fountain

Starring Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant

Out Now

Review by Emrys Matthews

Breaking Bubbles and Other Stories is an anthology of four separate thirty-minute adventures by four different writers all featuring the Sixth Doctor and his companion Peri. For those audiobook enthusiasts out there, finding a good time to listen isn’t always easy. These half hour adventures make a great short listen when you’re on the go. There weren’t really ever any single-episode stories in the original series, so here Big Finish creates their own format. But what makes a single episode story great? The set is an eclectic bunch and there are some real gems in the pack.

Breaking Bubbles
The headline story is probably the most linear of the four stories and finds The Doctor and Peri in the palatial gardens on a prison ship of the deposed Empress Valtris.

The story centres around the motivations of leaders and is the only story I felt could have been longer. It works as a stand-alone, but I wanted to find out what happened next. Maybe Big Finish will choose to conclude this one at a later date?

Of Chaos Time
Cast adrift in his own chronology, The Doctor must avert the use of a time weapon. It’s a jumbled dream; a typical events-happening-out-of-sequence Who story, but it’s cleverly handled and well structured. With a story of this length there is a danger of being unclear, but this story avoids that pitfall, often by using the Doctor’s inner monologue, which Colin Baker lands superbly.

An Eye For Murder
An historical adventure set in 1939 WWII against the backdrop of a Women’s College, scandalous letters and a certain mysterious artefact threaten to change the course of history.

Peri is mistaken for a female thriller writer and The Doctor as her assistant which is a wonderful wheeze. This is just a beautifully written and structured story that manages to feel much longer and more developed that it could in its thirty-minute length. Hats off to Una McCormack, writer of An Eye For Murder, for a truly well observed and thrilling and at times funny adventure.

The Curious Incident of the Doctor in The Night-Time
Michael is a young boy who likes to solve mysteries, like the mystery of the extra garden gnome, the absent father and the man in the yellow trousers at the end of the garden.

This story is unashamedly inspired by the book and play of the similar name, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Instead of a dog, it’s The Doctor. It’s a wonderfully empowering story of a boy on the autistic spectrum and fascinating how much the character of Michael has in common with The Doctor. They’re both logical, moralistic, often child like, arrogant, both don’t favour "invisible rules" and behave as if they’re from another planet.

This is the real show-stealer of the bunch; the interactions between the Doctor and Michael are wonderful and oddly the villain of the piece sounds like the Candy Man from The Happiness Patrol.

The cast double-up from story to story but the real stand outs are Jemma Churchill as Valtris/Dr Maria Backhouse, Phil Mulryne as Trobe/Warm and Johnny Gibbon as Michael.

It’s great to have Peri and The Sixth Doctor back together after not hearing the pair jointly since October last year (and August 2011 before that). The latter two stories are really excellent, engaging and well-formed; especially when you consider their short length. Also, it’s heartening to see two stories by female writers and, all in all, Breaking Bubbles and Other Stories is a great release.

Thanks to Big Finish

Review by Emrys Matthews

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