Doctor Who Short Trips 8.06 – The Siege Of Big Ben review

In the first of two Short Trips, Camille Codhuri reprises her role as Rose Tyler’s inimitable mother Jackie, gloriously sharing a few secrets with us over a cheeky splosh of pinot.

While this is not Camille Codhuri’s first audio outing, having starred in both the The Ninth Doctor Chronicles and The Lives Of Captain Jack, and having been reunited with Tennant and Piper for Infamy Of The Zaross, it is the first time we have followed Jackie’s life past the events of Journey’s End.

The Siege Of Big Ben and August’s Flight Into Hull! are set on “Pete’s World”, the zeppelin filled parallel universe from Series 2 which is now home to the whole Tyler clan, and the Meta-Crisis Doctor.

Despite her relocation, Jackie’s wit and indiscretion remain universal constants. In this reality, reunited with Pete and mother to both Rose and little Tony, she now works for UNIT, keeping the troops fed and watered. At quite some speed we learn that this UNIT now encompasses both Torchwood and the Preachers, with the Doctor working as its Scientific Adviser and Rose as his assistant.

Jackie remains fascinated by host of minor the differences between the two worlds and it is clear that writer Joe Lidster had fun imagining them as well as dropping in some kisses to the past. Of course, this world still suffers from the terrible legacy of Cybus and the emotional core to his story rises from the shadow of those terrible events.

Lidster also has an ear for vintage Jackie dialogue, such as the disparaging remark about this Doctor being the result of a meta-crisis (“He grew from a hand and merged with some secretary”). In amongst the quick fire humour and dry roasted peanuts, she has plenty to say about this altered version of the Doctor too (“he’s a grumpy prawn!”), as she considers his frustrations and how he differs from the ‘real’ Doctor she knew and loved, as well as her fears and concerns for Rose’s future.

Camille’s Codhuri’s performance is a joy throughout; this is Jackie unfiltered with all the attitude, comic timing and bravado, undercut with vulnerability, which left such an indelible mark on the show in the RTD years. Lisa Bowerman’s direction ensures the story has plenty of pace too, with some well-placed sound effects punctuating the flow.

We may have another tale to go, but it is clear that there are abundant storytelling opportunities here. RTD might have put the mockers on a Rose Tyler: Earth Defence spin-off, but surely Big Finish is the ideal place to explore this other universe? In the meantime, this Short Trip is a thirty minute slice of perfection in the company of one of Doctor Who’s most vivid characters.

5star