This fifth set of third Doctor adventures delivers two milestones and both in the first story. Alongside Kay Manning’s Jo Grant and Tim Treloar’s Doctor, we now have a recast Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Jon Culshaw) and Liz Shaw (Daisy Ashford, daughter of Caroline John who played the part originally). It’s also two intriguing two-disc stories.
Writer John Dorney has the honour of introducing the recast characters in The Primords. It’s a clever setup, with some great initial scenes of Jo getting ready to meet the previous companion Liz and it’s every inch in the style of meeting someone’s ex. It provides some wonderful moments as we also realise Liz Shaw has moved on from her time with the Doctor, has new interests and new imperatives. John has given Liz a plausible evolution and makes the point ex-companions are like everyone else: they change as they get new experiences and sometimes recapturing the past isn’t simple.
Without giving too much away there are some very third Doctor era villains as well as the Primords, plenty for Tim Treloar and like the writing in a stick of rock the Brigadier is in the core of the story, every inch as we remember.
The second two-part story is The Scream Of Ghosts by Guy Adams. This time it’s the Brigadier and Sergeant Benton (John Levene), an interesting dip into experimental early 1970s music and a look back at what was then leading-edge modern technology. What starts as two apparently separate strands and joins the dots at yet another research laboratory. The story also brings back an audio-friendly alien (no spoilers) used before but also dives a bit too far into fantasy science at the expense of separating the characters for longer than is often the case. It does, though, give Jo plenty of opportunity to be a lead in her own right.
Really it’s job done and Big Finish now has a bigger set of pieces with which tell stories from this less-explored era. Jon Culshaw is as brilliant as we always expected he would be and Daisy Ashford must surely return. The third Doctor era is truly with us. Long may it continue.