The latest Pertwee-era audio drama returns to Season 7 – but is Liz Shaw really a dangerous security risk?
Intelligence for War brings us back for another serious-minded 7-parter set in Jon Pertwee’s first run.
Doctor Who burst into colour with the Doctor’s time and space faring curtailed as he embraced an exile on Earth. Regenerated along with its star, the show embraced its format change and provided lengthier stories and the new Doctor took on the tole of Scientific Adviser to his military allies UNIT, teamed with the sceptic Dr Elizabeth Shaw. However, while led by the Brigadier, the “UNIT family” feel of the show hadn’t quite clicked into place.
Intelligence for War
It begins with a Nazi soldier menacing the landlord of a pub, written up in a less than reputable paper. Not much to go on perhaps, but it’s enough to catch the Doctor’s interest. Heading off to the quiet Norfolk village of Huncleath, he’s accompanied by Liz Shaw who doesn’t believe a word of it, but rather fancies a pub lunch.
As they begin to investigate the strange goings on, joined by the Brigadier and UNIT, they’re blindsided by the arrival of Colonel Matthews of Pinpoint Division. A new military department, and posited as a rival to UNIT, Matthews promptly arrests Liz on a charge of treason.
From these beginnings, the story spins into a web of intrigue with dual threats, one alien and one thoroughly human. While the Doctor begins to unravel the mystery of a shape changing alien, Liz is incarcerated with her links to an anti-war student society teased out by Pinpoint’s Colonel Matthew in a series of mind games…
UNIT’s Scientific Adviser
With her brief stint on the show, Caroline John’s Liz Shaw was a terrific character and she’s well deserving of this further exploration. Recruited as UNIT’s Scientific Adviser, she naturally played second-fiddle to Jon Pertwee’s leading man. Voiced by Daisy Ashford, she’s bright, intelligent and capably leads a good portion of the story.
Despite being kept apart for much of the tale, there’s great chemistry between Ashford and Tim Treloar’s Third Doctor who is exasperated by the loss of his right hand woman.
Jon Culshaw is on entertaining form as the Brigadier, gamely butting heads with the upstart Colonel Matthews (James Howard). With Pinpoint’s nationalistic approach we almost expected a link to Torchwood. While not explicit, their insular lookout chimes with that organisation’s famously imperial ambitions.
Full of incident, intrigue and alien technology, Eddie Robson’s tale is an engaging political thriller. It kept us guessing and easily sustains tension throughout its seven parts, so we’ve tried not to spoil its secrets here. The story gives us a taste of Liz’s Cambridge life – one we know that she eventually returns to. Notwithstanding Russell T Davies’ UNIT Moonbase namecheck in The Sarah Jane Adventures!
With superb sound design from Luke Pietnik & Ellie Nielson, and an evocative score from Nicholas Briggs, we were happily transported back to 1970 where we’ll hopefully enjoy plenty more adventures. Cover artist Sean Longmore deserves a nod too for another epic action cover.
While there’s no video trailer for this story, there’s an audio one…
Plus, a short behind-the-scenes feature from the recording too.
Doctor Who – The Third Doctor Adventures: Intelligence for War is available on Collector’s Edition CD (+ download) or download only from Big Finish.