‘Doctor Who’: ‘Luna Romana’ (Big Finish Companion Chronicles 8.07) audio story review

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For the uninitiated, he was a reluctant traveller aboard the TARDIS busy doing decommissioning work when the Doctor and Susan fled Gallifrey. Seeking to return home, he has been abandoned and thwarted by the Doctor in two previous tales ‘The Beginning’ and ‘The Dying Light’.

For his final encounter with the Doctor and the conclusion of this 50th Anniversary trilogy, Big Finish have crafted something rather special – a multi-Romana story which sees the Time Lady interacting with Stoyn in both of her television incarnations.

Originally intended to feature both Mary Tamm and Lalla Ward, the sad death of Tamm in 2012 triggered a rather creative solution; namely a framing device featuring Lady Trey (Juilet Landau), the future incarnation of Romana first heard in the Gallifrey series.

The tale begins with Trey recalling part of the quest for the Key to Time, when she was in her first incarnation. Arriving in Ancient Rome, the Doctor becomes distracted by a play while Romana has a strange encounter with Stoyn in a temple to the goddess Luna. Appearing to have lost his wits, Stoyn reveals he is a Time Lord and appeals for her aid, whereupon she naively grants him access to the TARDIS.

As Romana II takes up the tale, post-Key to Time quest, the TARDIS brings them to what at first appears to be Rome again but transpires to be a theme park on the Moon.

Temporal shenanigans ensue as a meeting with an aggrieved Stoyn, who has attempted to fashion a time/space viewer but got stuck seeing only the travels of the Doctor, lead to a shattering of the villain into multiple aspects and Romana II looping herself around a time corridor.

Terry Molloy’s Stoyn is an entertaining adversary for the Doctor, driven to the point of madness and yet it is easy to sympathise with what has taken him there. Disgusted at the Doctor’s lenient sentence of exile, he seeks to provide summary judgement himself both on the Doctor and his favourite planet.

Appropriate to its era, there are plenty of amusing moments and one-liners. We particularly laughed at the Doctor’s reference to ‘The Iron Legion’ comic strip and to a gag which suggests that some might regard a “Doctorous Ex Machina” as cheating. Stoyn’s reaction to K-9 provides a giggle too, as he says he found the mobile computer annoying and decided to dismantle him… sacrilege!

Ultimately, as well as providing a satisfying conclusion the Stoyn trilogy, the story serves as a love letter to Mary Tamm who first brought Romana to life and reflects on how the character changed though contact with the Doctor. In ‘Luna Romana’, writer Matt Fitton has created a touching tribute to that indomitable Time Lady who, as her later incarnation suggests, always embraced the unknown with wit, charm and a fabulous outfit.

It is guaranteed to bring a lump to the throat of even the most hardened fan.

Released in January 2014 by Big Finish Productions Ltd.

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