Big Finish’s Doctor Who Short Trips range continues with Matthew Waterhouse narrating The Ingenious Gentleman Adric Of Alzarius, a fifth Doctor, Adric (of course), Nyssa and Tegan story. As the synopsis hints, writer Julian Richards takes Adric to a mythic landscape, where there be giants (or perhaps windmills), an evil enchanter, a hero in the form Sir Keeyoht and perhaps even a dragon. If they exist. The fantasy elements are packed in, but never crowd the story, even if at times the listener can imagine they are listening to the sound track to a classic Harryhausen movie, with technicolor heroes facing up to the most fantastic of monsters. Epic stuff, and Matthew Waterhouse carries it off with aplomb.
What at first seems to be a fun story set in a dream world, becomes much, much more. As the story progresses we realise it is, among other things, a story about Adric exploring his place on the TARDIS and his evolving relationship with the Doctor. As the heart of this vividly constructed tale unfolds, it makes the listener think just what it meant to be Adric as his loyalty to the Doctor who rescued him from e-space was tested by that same Doctor’s regeneration. It doesn’t dwell on this, it also explores the nature of heroes and heroism, and best of all it shows us Adric in three dimensions, and how far removed he is from the character we thought we knew from the TV shows.
It helps that time has passed, and Matthew Waterhouse is now a far more experienced actor, well used to performing on audio, even if his return to Adric is a recent thing. Once again Big Finish has worked its magic on a character not all fans held close to their hearts and his next adventure can’t come too soon. Congratulations to all involved, including director Lisa Bowerman and producer / script editor Ian Atkins.