The Big Finish Doctor Who Short Trips range starts 2019 with a new producer (Alfie Shaw taking over from Ian Atkins) and brings Brigadier Alastair Lethbridge-Stewart to the fore. The Short Trips stories are short (30-40 minutes generally) tales focusing on a few characters in Doctor Who history read by an actor who played one of the parts in the story. With The Revisionists, writer Andy Frankham-Stewart not only brings us a chance to spend time with the Brig (whose backstory he knows far better than most) but also compare him with another warrior, Leela of The Sevateem, with Louise Jameson bringing everyone (including the fourth Doctor) to life vocally under the watchful ear of director Lisa Bowerman.
The setup for the story is simple: the Brigadier is in Geneva planning retirement from UNIT when he finds his hotel is haunted by the ancestors of the guests. The further twist is these ancestors never existed. Exploring, he finds Leela and introductions made they both try to deal with their own pasts as well as consider the future.
It’s a clever, layered tale giving the listener opportunity to compare two iconic characters as well as explore some of their history, sense of tradition and sense of responsibility. It’s well-handled and information is given naturally. The Brigadier is already planning retirement and as he and Leela encounter their pasts and spend time together the listener can snoop on deeply personal and honest moments in their lives.
Of course there’s the inevitable alien involvement, memory tricks, noble savage with knife, long scarf and a happy resolution but not before we’ve shared a chance to think about memory, personal history and even remembrance of those departed.
If the setup is a little over-contrived that’s a very minor consideration given the chance to spend time in the company of these three. The Brigadier will be back with Big Finish in May, voiced by Jon Culshaw, and this story is a fine way to get in the mood for further adventure.
Once again the Short Trips range is off to a strong start and its ninth season promises to maintain the high standards reached in recent years.