In the sixth Doctor story Hour Of The Cybermen, writer Andrew Smith is almost prescient in setting this adventure in a Britain suffering under a drought, though in this case there is no accompanying hot weather, instead water is rationed, lakes are empty, and things are not as they should be when the TARDIS lands in London. Cue military curfew and black market trade in whatever water there is, and not a drop of rain in sight.
In this story the Doctor (Colin Baker) is without companions, though does meet up again with some UNIT personnel, first introduced in the fifth Doctor story The Helliax Rift (April’s main range release) – Colonel Lewis Price (Russ Bain) and medic Daniel Hopkins (Blake Harrison). Time has moved on and both these characters have developed since they last met the Doctor, as has he. There are also some new characters to get to know, including Frog Stone (Jupiter Ascending and BBC 4’s Bucket) as Riva. Frog is known for her comedy work, in this story she delivers a moving and convincing performance belying her relative inexperience of audio.
Special mention also to Blake Harrison’s Daniel Hopkins: in the previous encounter he was well-formed though relatively fresh to UNIT in this story he has a worldliness formed both by the script and Blake’s delivery. Full credit to Jamie Anderson’s direction.
Of course the cause of the drought is extra-terrestrial (and the clue is in the name of the story), but far more happens than just wandering around defeating Cybermen. Over the course of four episodes there are aliens, surprises, hordes of Cybermen, deceptions and a grand confrontation. All the way through Andrew’s writing keeps the rhythm of 1980s Doctor Who and also finds more than the average number of twists and some very dark angles as well. This plus the original Cyber Leader (David Banks) as played in every 1980s Doctor Who Cybermen story and some delightfully evocative sound and music from Steve Foxon, this is a real delight from beginning to end.