‘Blood on Santa’s Claw’ is the latest from the Doctor Who Monthly Adventures range, one of their occasional anthology releases. Festively themed, this quartet features the Sixth Doctor, Peri and an addition to the TARDIS crew, her new beau Joe Carnaby.
Blood on Santa’s Claw
With 80s pop star Joe on board, the trio make a trip to the Earth colony world of Naxios. Adjusting to the new dynamic, at Peri’s insistence, they soon find trouble in the form of a murdered Father Christmas.
Humanity in the 59th century has an expansive pantheon of idols, organised religion succeeded by the belief in practically everything. Like a comic con extrapolated to its final conclusion, there are adherents of every possible idea, from Mark Bolan to The Wind in the Willows. Superiority is granted to the group with the largest number of followers, on Naxios, followers of Shakespeare dominate forcing the animals of the riverbank to toil in silver mines. Naturally, the Doctor cannot help but get involved…
Christmas Every Day
Further adventures ensue in this era. We take a traumatic look at family planning, with Peri and Joe posing as prospective parents to road-test potential children. Later, the TARDIS arrives at a never-ending Christmas party, staffed by robots who are incredibly precious about the decorations.
Hanky Panky in the TARDIS?
Although JNT would be spitting feathers, bringing a love interest on board for Peri provides Nicola Bryant with plenty of space to expand her character with some great emotional scenes. While Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor can be bumptious, he tolerates Peri’s boyfriend for her sake. We found his affection for the Father Christmas outfit rather endearing too.
The new addition, Joe (Luke Allen-Gale) is charming, if irritating at times – especially with his insistence on calling Peri “babes”. Of course, it is an extra fannish thrill to know his backstory canonises Nicola Bryant’s appearance in the ‘Top of the Pops’ audience, circa 1984.
Writer Nev Fountain and friends have delivered a series of clever escapades. Theatrical yet thought provoking, they explore both faith and relationships from various futuristic angles. The Christmas theme provides plenty of colour as well as some great gags. We particularly loved the robots persistently offering nibbles, and the David Ike gag about the Royal Family.
Director John Ainsworth has gathered a hard-working guest cast, many of whom take dual or triple roles, some even more. In lieu of an on-screen Christmas Special this year, Big Finish has done us proud!
A Song for Running
‘Blood on Santa’s Claw’ also comes with a Subscriber Short Trip, written by Sophie Iles. ‘A Song for Running’ is a touching tale for the Twelfth Doctor, who aids a stranded alien with the help of an eleven-year-old girl. Maggie, who can hear the alien while the Doctor can only see it, is suffering a crisis of confidence. This life affirming story is entertainingly narrated by Stephen Critchlow.