Set early in her time with the Doctor, and referencing the events of ‘The Romans’, ‘Starborn’ finds Vicki unable to enter the TARDIS. Confronted by a warning of ominous clarity, she is informed that her next journey in the ship will be her last.
The warning comes from a medium named Madame Violet and mindful of the Doctor’s dismissal of such matters, Vicki is highly sceptical. Playing along, she cannot help but ridicule the process at first, looking to trip the spirits up, but is soon drawn in by the fantastical tale of another world – especially when she discovers that the desperate voice they are communing with is her very own.
Vicki learns of a planet bathed in the perpetual daylight of a thousand stars, a sky so bright that the time travellers have to wear dazzle hoods and employ personal air conditioners to endure the heat. She hears how she will befriend a girl who has star blood and a destiny to find a home as part of that glorious stellar canopy. She also learns of the terrible tragedy which occurred when the process went dangerously wrong and an outside force attempted to turn off the lights.
Jacqueline Rayner’s script is pitched perfectly, drawing you in with a fairytale quality as we hear of this adventure yet to come. She captures Vicki’s irrepressible youth and her respect for the Doctor, providing some pleasing references to the character’s twenty-fifth century background. The script also captures her fish out of water status in the twentieth century, with an amusing misunderstanding of what the Lyon’s Corner House experience should offer its customers.
Providing a neat twist on a familiar theme, and thus an unusual moral dilemma, Vicki is confronted by the implications of changing the future in order to save her own life. This triggers her to consider the meaning of death and the rules of time travel: “I don’t think you’re supposed to change things when you’re a time traveller. That’s what the Doctor says.”
As ever, Maureen O’Brien effortlessly reprises her role of Vicki, both as a sparky teenager and a desperate voice from beyond the grave.
The story’s additional voice is provided by Jacqueline King (better known to television viewers as Donna Noble’s caustic mother, Sylvia). Her Madame Violet is hilarious yet her Medium’s patter hides some darkness too. King is building an impressive list of audio credits at Big Finish of late, including roles in Dark Eyes 2 and the upcoming Charlie Pollard spin-off.
Enthralling and bittersweet, ‘Starborn’ is another superb Companion Chronicle which makes a positive virtue out of the two-hander format and we cannot recommend it highly enough.
Released in March 2014 by Big Finish Productions Ltd.
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