‘Cry of the Vultriss’, the latest Doctor Who Monthly Adventure, kicks off a new Sixth Doctor trilogy. Travelling with companions Philippa ‘Flip’ Ramon (née Jackson) and Mrs Constance Clarke, their latest journey culminates in a crash landing; the TARDIS falling foul of a rupture in the Space-Time vortex.
The trio have arrived on the avian dominated world of Cygia-Rema at an auspicious moment, with the native Vultriss poised to make first contact with an alien species.
However, it is also a time of political turmoil. The Vultriss ruler Queen Skye seeks to expand their planet’s horizons by reaching out to the stars. Meanwhile former leader Jabule, whom Skye deposed, vehemently violently believes in isolation. Consequently, Jabule’s supporters act as terrorists and persecute a campaign of violence from the mountains.
In addition to the courtly intrigue, Darren Jones’ story provides pleasing echoes of Peladon with a planet on the cusp of extra-terrestrial contact and the visiting ambassadors revealed as Ice Warriors. Knowing the Martians of old, the Doctor is wary, desperately hoping they are not in one of their warlike phases. He has more to worry about too, as the cause of the TARDIS malfunction hits a little close to home.
In classic style, the travellers are separated early on, allowing us to explore both sides of the argument. The rival Queens are both flawed leaders, yet both also seem to inspire devotion from their followers.
Colin Baker is on top form here, remonstrating with Queens and ambassadors, and ably supported by Lisa Greenwood’s inquisitive Flip and Miranda’s Raison’s capable Constance. Together they make a positive team who enjoy their travels; we loved Flip’s enthusiasm at the feast and Constance’s can-do attitude, adapting her riding skills to flightless beasts. We were also pleased that the story began by addressing the fallout of this TARDIS team’s previous adventure, 2017’s ‘Static’.
Playing another Martian Queen, after her onscreen role as the ‘Empress of Mars’, Adele Lynch leads the Ice Warriors as Vextyr, ably supported by Nicholas Briggs in multiple chilly roles. For their part, both Natasha Cowley and Caroline Lawrie are suitably imperious as the regal rivals Skye and Jabule.
With multiple factions in play throughout a busy script, director John Ainsworth keeps the story moving and composer Simon Power supplements the action with a suitably dramatic score. ‘Cry of the Vultriss’ makes an entertaining start to this new trilogy.