For International Women’s Day 2022, Big Finish have created three more adventures led by Doctor Who‘s female heroes.
Back in 2019, Big Finish celebrated International Women’s day with a special release: The Eighth of March. It took the opportunity to bring some of the Doctor’s female allies to the fore in adventures of their own.
Building on the success of that release, Protectors of Time, focusses on a different set of characters. However, the principle is the same – we join their adventures after having met or travelled with the Doctor.
Launching off the back of ‘Warriors Gate’, Lizbeth Myles answers the question of what Romana and K9 did next. We find out promptly; she has dedicated herself to riding the time winds and freeing enslaved Tharils.
Romana’s ability to lead the action has never been in doubt, she did so on the television and countless times in the Gallifrey audio series. However, it’s great to hear her finding her feet; without the Doctor, she makes her own choices and decides who to trust. Through the tale Romana is uncompromising, driven to do the right thing and avowedly against wanton destruction and murder.
With Gundan robots and mirrors, Lizbeth Myles brings forth the high-concept flavour of ‘Warriors Gate’ but manages to give us a wider sense of the Tharil’s fight against enslavement. We are not sure any of it makes much more sense than the original, but it is all stylishly done with direction by Louise Jameson.
With a few new Tharil characters in the mix, John Dorney shines as the gruff Biroc; he first took the role he first took on for The War Doctor Begins. So too does David Warwick as Tyro, a Tharil with his own vision for their species future, and Nimmy March as the passionate Lupan.
The story begins with Christina as she plans to steal a diamond currently possessed by an old school friend; Alethea has married the businessman Cal Norwood and become the voice of his ubiquitous AI product. This means sneaking into the launch party and dealing with a group of activists (conveniently led by another old chum).
Meanwhile Jenny, with Noah in tow, finds herself rescued from her latest (stolen) ship’s destruction. Welcomed into a high-end intergalactic corporate hub, she finds herself conveniently on their books thanks to her genetic connections. Able to roam, she soon discovers all is not well on board.
With plenty of satire on voice activated AI technology and corporate mergers, Abigail Burgess’ story is a busy one. It wisely keeps Jenny (Georgia Tennant) and Christina (Michelle Ryan) apart for the most part; in truth, the characters feel quite alike and their scenes together groan with the weight of all that sass and sarcasm. In a hard-working guest cast, Ffion Jolly, Debbie Morley and Graham Vick all entertain in multiple roles.
The Turn of the Tides
Of the three stories here, the last is the one that really catches our attention. It features Rani Chandra (Anjli Mohindra), from The Sarah Jane Adventures, and also draws some other familiar faces together; Katy Manning’s Jo Jones (née Grant), former time-traveller turned ecological activist and Jac (Jaye Griffiths), the UNIT science officer seen in the Capaldi era.
It’s the SJA that gives Nina Millns’ story its tone, with ecological changes happening all over the world that draw the trio together. At its heart, it is not particularly complex tale; one reveal is easily anticipated, primarily due to the lack of available candidates. However it is thoroughly entertaining, with a trio of female heroes coming together for a mission which ends up on the Moon. Jo’s friend and protégé Rio (Sheena Bhattessa) does not trust Rani initially and is particularly dismissive of her. The same is true of Jac, however both learn to appreciate the young journalist’s contribution.
Thanks to Jo, the story is peppered with plenty of references to Sarah Jane; this is the first time an SJA character has been recreated on audio. Given the ecological theme of the story, Mike Yates’ actions in ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’ are addressed too’.
One frustration we did have with this tale however is Jac’s lack of a surname. It might have been okay onscreen, but it’s almost painful here during introductions. Surely Big Finish can get permission to grant her one – especially if the character is to have further outings? Which we hope she does!
Although all different in tone, these are three entertaining tales. ‘Stolen Futures’ has the feel of a Romana-focussed The Companions of Doctor Who novel, while ‘Prism’ is more like a holiday special, bringing two heroes together as a one-off.
For us however, it’s ‘The Turn of the Tides’ which impresses the most: Rani fills the shoes of a young Sarah Jane Smith admirably and there’s boundless potential in pairing her with the seasoned explorer Jo. Jac feels like a character with further potential to explore too. We will gladly take some more adventures with this trio!