Range producer Alfie Shaw takes the writing role for March 2019’s Short Trips story Doctors And Dragons. Read by Sophie Aldred, it’s a seventh Doctor story and if the title isn’t obvious enough, it’s a riff on the RPG Dungeons And Dragons.
The setup is a girl called Reya needs the blood of the last dragon to save her sister from poisoning. She embarks upon a quest to find the dragon us guarded by a man with a strange crooked staff called the Doctor. The story focuses on her attempts to first persuade, then force and finally trick the Doctor into letting her take the dragon’s blood – but who can trick the trickster Doctor? And just what do those numbers mean that only Reya can see?
It’s entertaining, and more so if you’ve ever spent any amount of time playing D&D (1980-83…) but familiarity with (or enjoyment of) the game is no requirement to follow and be entertained by this story. Sophie Aldred’s reading is spirited and engaging, encouraged by the directing talents of Lisa Bowerman. When the scenes with the dragon are reached you can imagine Sophie in studio giving it 110% in studio and coming out with a smile. By the end listeners too will be grinning as they’ve enjoyed yet another of this range of great stories. Those Dungeons And Dragons fans won’t be disappointed either though the writing does enough to suggest but avoids letting the idea dominate.
Doctors And Dragons is one of those adventures that reaches the three-quarter mark with a fun, if straightforward idea, then slips up a couple of gears to make a good story great. It might be the first Alfie Shaw story we have but, on this evidence, it won’t be the last.
Coming in at just over 39 minutes, producer Alfie Shaw sets a high standard for his stable of writers to meet in coming releases and this is yet another example of how Big Finish can package a Doctor Who story in any number of formats with great success.