‘Doctor Who’: ‘White Ghosts’ (Big Finish 4th Doctor Adventures 3.02) audio story review

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Feelings still run high after Leela’s explosive actions at the conclusion of ‘The King of Sontar’, but as we return to the TARDIS we find the Doctor in a reflective mood.

Wondering about the quality of his mentoring, he discovers the savage attempting to educate herself by reading. Her choice of material, a book of fairy tales that she has sought to learn about the monsters of Earth, sets the tone for a quirky adventure that kept both chuckling and guessing throughout.

With the TARDIS having arrived at the very edge of the universe, the Doctor smells Time Lord intervention again. After a near miss with a lone missile in the starless black, some nifty calculations take the travellers to its intended destination; a planetoid which remains in shadow.

Investigating with Florence Nightingale’s lamp, they promptly discover some rather hostile vegetation which, as well as being flame retardant, responds with a frightening rapidity to light.

Hooking up with a four strong planetary survey team of genetically adapted humans, led by Senior Tutor Begel (Farscape’s Virginia Hey), they soon discover that the vegetation waits over a thousand years for a single day light and that it is much safer to remain in the dark.

‘Doctor Who’ ‘White Ghosts’ Big Finish

In ‘White Ghosts’, writer Alan Barnes cleverly hides plans within plans and turns conventions on their head, which takes this beyond what at first appears to be a regular base under siege story. We are mindful of not spoiling anything here, but it is enough to say that after holding Leela’s moral code up to question, it is the Doctor’s turn to have his actions scrutinised.

While Tom Baker is as magical as ever, forming an interesting rapport with Begel and her “star pupil” Aranda (Bethan Walker), it is Louise Jameson’s Leela who really benefits from the tale. Pairing up with another of the students, there is an impressive sequence where she narrates the battle action with her inner voice – a device that works superbly and really drew us in.

As well as some amusing gags drawn from her literal take on the fairy tales, we loved the idea that Leela has been carving symbols into the TARDIS walls to help navigate the interior. We also enjoyed the notion of proximity sensors which seem to have a habit of only going off just after it has been pointed out that they haven’t.

Fast paced, witty and clever, this is another highly enjoyable adventure for the Fourth Doctor but with so much going on, we only wish it could have been granted more than two episodes to expand on its ideas.

Extras: A little over 17 minutes of interviews with the writer and cast, including some interesting comments on Leela’s continued development.


Released in February 2014 by Big Finish Productions Ltd.

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