Doctor Who: Classic Doctors New Monsters Volume 4 audio review

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Four classic Doctors take on monstrous creations from the mind of Moffat in Classic Doctors New Monsters 4: Broken Memories

Across their countless adventures, the Doctor often runs into foes they have met before. Classic Doctors, New Monsters gloriously exploits this fact by imperilling pre-2005 Doctors with threats from the modern series.

As the range reaches its fourth volume, Broken Memories showcases three creations from former showrunner (and returning 2024 writer) Steven Moffat.

Classic Doctors New Monsters 4 - Broken Memories cover art

Invasion of the Body Stealers

The bizarre body stealing brains of the Shoal of the Winter Harmony first appeared for ‘The Husbands of River Song’, as devotes of King Hydroflax – the target of River’s latest scam. They reoccurred as Harmony Shoal, much earlier in their timeline, threatening the Earth in the subsequent Christmas special. However, on both occasions, they hardly felt like the main event of their episodes.

Here, writer Jonathan Morris recasts them as a B movie style threat. The action begins with the Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor and Sadie Miller’s Sarah Jane discovering a crashing freighter bound for a crystalline forest. The seemingly dead pilot is alien insectoid who sports a telltale head wound.

The action plays out as the sinister Shoal slowly take over the Systalzyn’s mining colony. It’s an entertaining romp with a strong guest cast – notably Juliet Aubrey as Lina Kalpar and Timothy Bentinck as Lucas Welland. We also enjoyed Peter Bankolé’s everyman miner Eban Hope Jansen, who rises superbly to the occasion.

The story is a lot of fun with a particularly ingenious solution. Also, it was great to hear the Doctor describe himself as an intergalactic first responder!

The Queen of Clocks

Writer Jacqueline Rayner’s story begins with the Sixth Doctor and Mel already in the thick of the action – trapped in a castle besieged with droids from the Catherine de Medici colony ship.

Expanding their original premise, these malfunctioning clockwork droids have not only started using the colonists as spare parts but are replicating themselves too: outside the castle walls are legions of “droidspawn”.

However, unlike the love story of ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’, this tale focusses more on the threat and the quest to understand it. Bonnie Langford’s Mel enjoys a substantial role, paired with the Jennifer Saayeng’s Annette, while the Colin Baker’s Doctor befriends the Royal Clockmaker Harbolt, amusingly played by Patterson Joseph. Meanwhile, Finty Williams is impressively imperious as the titular Queen.

We’re hesitant to say more for fear of spoilers, but the story certainly packs its own hearty emotional punch.

The Silent Priest & The Silent City

The Silence were the terrifying priests who bedevilled the Eleventh Doctor – creatures who fail to stay in your memory once you’ve turned away from them. It’s in that confessional role that David K. Barnes find his inspiration for this two-parter, examining the effect that one ambitious Silent could have on a whole city. His story plays with time too: the first half stars Paul McGann, while the second features his immediate predecessor, Sylvester McCoy. To that end, there’s possibly a case to be made for listening to them in either order.

The action in ‘The Silent Priest’ begins with the Eighth Doctor visiting the city of Sunset. Weary of the futility of his actions on the fringes of the Time War, he seeks solace in a church. Speaking to the priest lightens his load, although he comes away without knowing what happens in the confessional.

However, the church’s secret has captured the interest of two bitter rival factions. One led by casino owner Kavita ‘Kay’ Aradhana (Mina Anwar), the other by the mobster cyborg Albion Graves (Alistair Petrie). Both are keen to turn the church’s secret to their advantage – if only they can work out what it is!

This episode ends with a revelation, the truth behind the start of the gangland turf war. It also sets up the prosperous conditions into which the Seventh Doctor arrives in ‘The Silent City’, two years later. Here we meet wealthy businessman Maynard Harker (Glen McCready) and his indulged daughter Jessica (Genevieve Gaunt).

Among a varied cast, with Mina Anwar clearly relishing her role, Nicholas Briggs steals the show. We’ve not met specific individuals before, but he delivers an interesting and nuanced performance as the Silent Priest.

Away from their regular role in opposition to the Doctor, this is an intriguing two-parter which further explores the nature of The Silence and their abilities.

In Summary

  • All three stories take the premise of the monsters on screen and offers a slightly different slant on them, with ‘The Queen of Clocks’ a particular highlight. Thanks to Barnaby Edwards’ adroit direction and impressive casting, this is another engaging volume of Classic Doctors New Monsters tales.

Interestingly, the box set was recorded back in 2021 so it’s been a long time coming. Let’s hope there are more such encounters in the pipeline, especially if the 13th Doctor era is now up for grabs. Anyone for Pertwee vs the Pting?

Four Stars

Doctor Who: Classic Doctors New Monsters 4: Broken Memories is available now from Big Finish as a collector’s edition 4-disc box set (CD + download) or on download only.

Check out our reviews of previous Classic Doctors New Monsters releases.