Big Finish ended their 2018 run of excellent stories in the Doctor Who Early Adventures range with another strong story, Jonathan Morris’s The Crash Of The UK-201. It’s another First Doctor story, with Peter Purves acting as narrator, Steven Taylor and the Doctor. The main focus, though, is Maureen O’Brien as Vicki, who suddenly wakes up on the spaceship UK-201, just before the crash that would leave her stranded on the planet Dido where the Doctor would find her; or would he?
Over two discs, the cast create an intriguing what if story exploring the classic Doctor Who position that history can’t be altered. As she comes to grips with her new setting, Vicki does indeed find that history can be altered, and as she moves forward through a life she never lived, a host of difficult decisions will be made.
Maureen’s performance as Vicki at many different ages is outstanding and hats off to director Lisa Bowerman for keeping her finger (and ear) on the various moments in Vicki’s life. This is not to demean the rest of the cast: Peter Purves delivers his usual engrossing take on William Hartnell’s Doctor, and the rest of the cast do far more than make up the numbers.
It’s not plain sailing, and even if the listener suspects the nature of the ending, the story is never less than compelling and even invokes Groundhog Day as Vicki (and the crew of the UK-201, and Steven) relive the events leading up to the crash (or not) multiple times. The story is well-paced and suited to the four episode two-disc format, giving the plot time to develop, the ethical consequences of changing history time to be explored as well as just what exactly is a right decision?
Not only is the The Crash Of The UK-201 a proper time travel story, it’s also a great way to explore more of Vicki’s character, meet her father (Newton Pallister, played by Michael Lumsden) and see the life she could have had under other circumstances. The idea of meeting a companion before the join the TARDIS rather than after they have left is a great way to tell a story, and congratulations to Jonathan (and no doubt producer David Richardson/script editor John Dorney) for making this great story.
The 2018 series of Early Adventures may have only been four titles in total, but they’ve been amongst the best of the Doctor Who releases from Big Finish this year. The Crash Of The UK-201 is no exception.