Doctor Who: The Return of Jo Jones cover art crop

Doctor Who: The Third Doctor Adventures – The Return of Jo Jones audio review

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The redoubtable Jo is back at the Doctor’s side for three more audio adventures in The Return of Jo Jones.

The wonderful thing about Doctor Who’s audio afterlife is the possibility to create impossible things.

The latest The Third Doctor Adventures release from Big Finish is one such marvel – it’s a trio of tales which reunite former companion Jo Jones (née Grant) in the present day with her Doctor, circa 1970-something.

The Return of Jo Jones cover art


Jo Jones, ecological activist, is en route to the Isle of Wight. She’s meeting up with an old friend, Dr Lorna Holmes (Wanda Opalinska) to investigate incidents of birds attacking people. Jo also has an unscrupulous podcaster in tow, who is making a feature about her exploits.

Meanwhile, the Third Doctor arrives for the same reason, with the TARDIS alerting him to some anachronistic alien technology. What follows is the tale that reunites them as they deal with the villainous Ms. Frost (Corinne Wicks), a scientist who is running illegal experiments that get out of hand.

Matt Fitton provides an authentic Pertwee-era run around which illustrates that Jo is clearly capable of looking after herself. She makes sure the Doctor know it too. However, she is also grieving the loss of her husband – a reference to the real-life passing of actor Stuart Bevan. At the end of the tale, there is an implication that this was a brush with Torchwood too, although the organization is not directly named.

The Conservitors

Felicia Barker’s story brings us a dose of satire on a world run by a tyrant reliant on big data. Viltris is a world controlled by an enforced safety system, with conservitor robots who perform on the spot risk assessments and dispense justice.

Naturally, Jo is at her activist best, fighting for peace and justice while the Doctor gets himself locked up. There are family dynamics at play here as well as political ones – they befriend the likeable Laire (LJ Parkinson) who is stuck in the middle of her cautious father Wendell (Paul Copley) and freedom-fighting aunt Vykane (Poppy Miller).

As the villain, Gary Turner is fun as Premier Maldon whose motives for a society free of violence and destruction are laudable, even if his methods of achieving them are not. It is a shame the story played out over two episodes, as we would have liked to have heard more of Viltris.

The Iron Shore

The set concludes with a tale that is much darker in tone, and partially narrated by Jo too. She tells us of a haunted dock on the world of Mercator, the creature that dwells within it and the baleful influence its presence has on the local inhabitants.

Of course, Jo believes she can help the creature – but it is something far beyond her capability to deal with. Deep, dark and a bit scary, with some evocative sound design, this is a lot of fun. Samuel Clemens is particularly creepy as the creature Solomun.

In Summary

Reuniting Jo with the Doctor of her youth is a joy – as long as we’re happy to nod along with the notion that the Eleventh Doctor was keeping mum when they met. Doubtless he was preserving the web of time or some such.

These three tales all manage the neat trick of maintaining that relationship we know and love, but also refreshing it and taking it somewhere new. Jo Jones is still the same person, but older, wiser and – if it’s possible – more filled with compassion.

In terms of performance, Katy Manning’s irrepressible spirit shines through. For his part, Tim Treloar continues to be quite remarkable as the Third Doctor.

We hope The Return of Jo Jones is not a one-off. Fingers crossed for a few more adventures with this splendid new/old TARDIS team!

Four Stars

Doctor Who: The Third Doctor Adventures – The Return of Jo Jones is available now on collector’s edition CD box set (+ download) or as a digital download only, exclusively from Big Finish.