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‘Doctor Who’: ‘Antidote to Oblivion’ (Big Finish 182) audio story review

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The Doctor is enjoying a holiday, enjoying it so much that Flip accuses him of becoming a “hammock-potato”. Roused from his relaxations, they respond to a distress call and find themselves in a futuristic, corporate controlled UK. Now owned by ConCorp, the society maintains a largely passive population with drugs in the water.

At the heart of the organisation is the Doctor’s old nemesis Sil. Ostensibly representing the Universal Monetary Fund, he is up to his old tricks both worming his way onto ComCorp’s board and working on a side project to exploit the unique qualities of Time Lord Biochemistry.

As one might expect from Phillip Martin, author of both ‘Vengeance on Varos’ and the ‘Mindwarp’ section of ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’, the story is replete with satire; benefit cuts and austerity measures are both in the firing line.

There is also plenty of connective tissue to Martin’s other stories here, with narrative links to both ‘Mindwarp’ and also ‘Mission to Magnus’, one of the originally proposed Season 23 stories which Big Finish went on to dramatise as part of their ‘Lost Stories’ range in 2009.

With Sil back at his devious and self-serving best, Nabil Shaban retains all his power to both entertain and repulse. As well as making an excellent foil for Colin Baker’s Doctor, the ‘slug’ enjoys a delightfully rude verbal battering at the hands of Lisa Greenwood’s gutsy Flip.

Bold and brash in its futuristic vision, ‘Antidote to Oblivion’ presents us with twists on familiar London iconography. Groups of society’s dropouts live in the Underground system as Northern Liners and Bakerloonies, while the South Bank has become a historical theme park.

Along with these notions, the prospect of skyscraper emerging from the midst of the Palace of Westminster seems the perfect ghastly addition that a 1980s vision of the future would have imagined.

As well as Sil’s machinations, tensions are ramped up further with the spectre of a sentient microbiological threat. Despite it effectively humanising the threat of infection, it felt a little like over-egging the pudding and it dissipated rather too neatly at the end. The ultimate downfall of ConCorp is well signposted, but it does somewhat subvert expectations with the Doctor caught up in events as much as he is provoking them.

Towards the story’s conclusion, there was some brooding on Peri’s fate, brought into focus by this latest Sil encounter, and it is suggested that the Doctor might follow this up. While he opts not to right now, could this be laying the seeds for a further adventure and the return of an older Peri (and possibly King Yrcanos) perhaps? We certainly hope so!

Extras: Included on this release are just under eight minutes of music, plus five minutes of interviews with director Nick Briggs, Colin Baker and Lisa Greenwood.

Released in January 2014 by Big Finish Productions Ltd.

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