The April 2019 Doctor Who: Short Trips story from Big Finish is The Year Of The Drex Olympics by Paul Ebbs (who wrote some Bernice Summerfield stories for Big Finish back at the start of the century). The title is more than a nod to the classic Nigel Kneale play The Year Of The Sex Olympics (which can be seen as foretelling Big Brother), but before any would-be listeners get concerned as to the nature of this latest release, there’s nothing untoward in this story, unless you count conspiracies and challenges on Venus.
The story is performed by Frazer Hines and is a second Doctor, Jamie and Victoria tale with a simple premise: while on Venus the TARDIS is taken to be a prize in the Venusian Olympics and to retrieve it the TARDIS teams needs to compete in the games. All’s well and good until they find themselves winning every event, much to the Doctor’s disappointment as the TARDIS was only the third prize!
It’s no surprise this is a rather fun story and at times borders on the silly in a nice way. It could easily be a comic strip rather than an audio, but it works perfectly fine in this medium, aided by Frazer’s usual versatile delivery under the watchful eye (and ear) of director Lisa Bowerman. There’s some techno-babble, some larger than life descriptions of Venusian non-verbal communication and even silly voices thrown in for good measure. No doubt this was fun to record and is certainly fun to listen to. With Frazer so skilled at channelling his inner Patrick Troughton the story takes the opportunity to give the Doctor a lot to do and his is the main character rather than Jamie or Victoria.
With a running time of 37 minutes it’s another example of the diversity of this range, and even if it’s a more light-hearted release than many, there’s nothing wrong with mixing up the range with some escapism. If nothing else you might get to find out just how the Doctor learned Venusian aikido!