Bristol based writer / composer Timothy X Atack (who just won the biennial Bruntwood prize, Europe’s biggest playwriting prize, with Heartworn), makes his Big Finish debut with the Early Adventures story The Wreck of the World. It’s a big screen outing for the second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe, with plenty of atmosphere, a dark presence and a well-drawn set of characters.
The setting is the wreck of the vast spaceship The World, hence the title; the TARDIS has collided with the ship, leaving Zoe then Jamie and the Doctor (Frazer Hines voicing both parts) to explore as they piece together just where they are and how they can survive. On board the ship are plenty of dead, plenty of artefacts and plenty of things to crawl through. It’s all very much of the era with echoes of classic stories such as Tomb of the Cybermen, but with its own agenda and set of villains.
Even at two discs, Timothy packs in plenty of content, and a lesser writer might have failed to keep the plates all spinning in time; in Wreck we have no such problem, instead the tension builds, the body count rises, and the action keeps going, yet retains the odd moment of comedy, very much as we had back in the 1960s.
The new characters includes a set of other astronauts, armed for any eventuality, and of course not prepared to trust the TARDIS crew. There’s also a robot, played with great aplomb, and a possible romantic interest for Zoe in the form of Twenty (Adam Newington). Every single character is well-written and has depth. Any assumptions formed on first hearing them are dispelled as we understand just how they all are and what the are all doing. The script helps as does Lisa Bowerman’s usual taut direction, all topped off with Toby Hrycek-Robinson’s sound and music.
It’s a very strong story, and if this is the quality Timothy X Atack can produce, we can expect to hear more from him in the future. Once again the Early Adventures range proves itself as strong as any other output from Big Finish.