Peter Davison

‘Doctor Who’: ‘Masquerade’ (Big Finish 187) audio story review

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The last in the latest trilogy of stories begins in surprising circumstances with the arrival of a famed English Doctor, his ward Miss Nyssa and her governess, who come by invitation for an audience with the Marquise De Rimdelle. The year is 1770 and we are asked to imagine the Doctor in a powdered wig!

The Marquise used to host high society parties, but seems to have fallen from favour since a strange mist surrounded her residence. She lives with just a manservant, the downright forward Vicomte de Valdac and her reclusive niece Helene.

While the time travellers have seemingly gone native in pre-revolutionary France and are unable to remember who they truly are, they know enough to realise something is not quite right. Glimpses of a strange machine in the distance, and the odd behaviour of Helene complicate matters even further – and that is before they discover the ‘dead man’ in the basement who raves about his rats.

Although it is clear from Stephen’s Cole’s tale that our heroes are somehow displaced, he manages to tease out the reveal for an extraordinarily long time. With some elegant misdirection and a well-constructed concept on offer, we found ourselves gleefully guessing and second guessing the true nature of the situation – particularly the repeated references to the pagoda in the garden.


When the characters’ true personalities are revealed, there were some stark contrasts from their French counterparts and surprises too, especially in relation to the chain of command. Valdac is perhaps the most transformed, and due credit must be given to David Chittenden for creating two distinctly different versions of the same man.

In terms of production, the monotonic voice of the Steamroller Man was genuinely demented as it relentlessly intoned child-like nursery rhymes such as “Doctor, Doctor, No one knows. Out you go!”. The Dead Man (Sean Brosnan) was also wonderfully disturbing.

Hannah Bartholomew (Francesca Hunt), newly added to the TARDIS crew, was well employed in the story as she rationalised events with to fit her spiritual beliefs, as well as bringing some much needed humour. She also fulfils what we like to see as the Jamie role – helpfully unlocking the technobabble in simple terms for the benefit of the listener, always a potential concern when the Doctor is in the company of another bright alien such as Nyssa.

A clever and well executed tale, Masquerade is great fun and definitely one of the more challenging stories that Big Finish have presented recently. It also provides a somewhat downbeat, emotional ending which seems in keeping with its era.

Extras: Fifteen minutes of interviews with cast and crew, including an amusing admission from Peter Davision that he didn’t have a clue what it was all about – but also that this is nothing new!


Released in June 2014 by Big Finish Productions Ltd.

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