Doctor Who: Short Trips – The Darkened Earth review

The July download only Doctor Who: Short Trips story is The Darkened Earth by John Pritchard. Narrated by Miranda Raison, it’s a sixth Doctor story told by his Big Finish companion Mrs Constance Clarke. It’s a simple-seeming story set on Earth and makes Constance challenge her world view – she joined the Doctor from World War II Bletchley Park, and this story gives her plenty to consider.

Back in approximately her own time, a new perspective on war draws out a deep emotional response to the most common (at the time) of situations. Coupled to a dark threat that comes out at night, The Darkened Earth is a chilling, tale well-delivered and Miranda Raison (under Lisa Bowerman’s direction) turns in another fine performance as Constance. Her voice is engaging and intimate – you quickly feel connected to events and see the horrors of the story through her eyes.

While the Doctor is a key part of the story, his character never dominates and the telling by a single voice works very well. The emotional depths are natural and show Constance for who she is – someone who cares and whose core humanity is the most important thing to her, possibly above even duty and country. The story avoids easy answers and allows both Constance and the listener to form their own opinions.

The prose is concise and powerful, no doubt teased along by producer Ian Atkins. Once again this range shows the ability of a stripped-back vehicle to tell a great story. Add David Roocroft’s sound and music and you have 35 minutes of audio delight to enjoy.

At a mere £2.99 for a download (or get a year’s worth for £30 – £2.50 each, the price of a coffee!) this investment will pay dividends in the listening. There really is no reason not to listen to these compelling and varied range of adventures.