Big Finish’ Short Trip supplements the world of Doctor Who this month by featuring the meddling Time Lord known as The Monk, played here by Rufus Hound.
Originally planned for March, but shuffled later to accommodate a rather wonderful two-part Jago & Litefoot celebration, How To Win Planets and Influence People is written by James Goss. The story shares something in common with the aforementioned Jago & Litefoot as it is also delivered by means of a presentation, a format which suits a single reader well. In this case, the Monk presents a corporate slideshow, complete with tea break and custard creams.
The lecture, to an alien organisation which has dangerously allowed him a foot on the corporate ladder, offers guidance on the best way to mount an invasion of the Earth with strategic planning and a killer idea.
Naturally, there is much to be gleaned from the Monk’s hard won experience, and these examples are where we meet the Doctor, Sarah and Harry who pop up intermittently to bedevil him. Our favourite moment was the Doctor’s subversion of a plan to control the Russian Revolution, which saw Moscow temporarily provided with a beach, Lenin on an inflatable giraffe, and gave the doomed Tsarina an ice cream headache.
As we might expect from James Goss, who has recently been responsible for some brilliant Douglas Adams adaptations, the script is witty and there are heaps of cleverly placed references and allusions to other stories. It is smart too, with more going than is instantly obvious, and will certainly demand a re-listen or two.
Rufus Hound remains an ideal fit for the eternally frustrated renegade, a self-important braggart who is clever, but never quite clever enough to out think the Doctor, and who we cannot help but root for despite his clearly selfish agenda.
With a runtime of thirty-five minutes this Short Trip is another enjoyable slice of Doctor Who fiction, albeit from an unusual angle. Certainly a lecture well worth attending.