And this is quickly followed by some serious phlegm-hocking and gunk-filled fun (not to mention the use of “fart” and “number twos” in the second episode), reminiscent of the more care-free early instalments in the previous series. But ‘Vice Versa’, as the title suggests, also has some body-swapping type shenanigans going on.
After their meeting with the creature of the Neverside, the aforementioned Hobbledehoy Squiggly, Tom and Benny find that certain personality and physical traits have swapped from one to another. Everyone’s favourite wizard, Tom, finds himself divested of his magical abilities whilst everyone’s favourite science geek, Benny, discovers he can use magic. However, the young wizard does have the advantage of acquiring his mate’s intelligence just as Benny acquires Tom’s physical prowess with the ladies and football.
Percelle Ascott and Scott Haran have a whale of a time impersonating one another but we discover much about their characters, and how one envies the other. It’s touching to note that Tom’s magic is a very real reminder of his dead mother – and just why he doesn’t want to lose his skills for good.
It’s not just Tom and Benny who’ve been tampered with by Squiggly though, Ursula (Tom’s gran) and Varg (one of alien race, the Nekross) have also switched places. Annette Badland takes great delight in cladding up in leather and impersonating her enemy as does Jefferson Hall (Varg) who causes much mirth as he uses phrases such as “darling boy,” “tickety boo” and referring to his fellow Nekross as “dear”. Both actors also do a superb job with the witty and fun script from former Doctor Who Magazine editor, Clayton Hickman (writer of last year’s cracking adventure, ‘Friend or Foe’).
The merriment is also interrupted by the rather shocking, and slightly graphic, death of Squiggly (though thankfully he had a twin, Stickley, who ended up helping out after being bested by Tom in a word game). Add to that some Nekross double-crossing where Lexi wants to get rid of her brother Varg (using his magical transformation as a catalyst to turn her father against him) and Drathro appearing to be involved in some plans as he secretly reports to their home planet. Very intriguing indeed.
On the face of it ‘Vice Versa’ could be mistaken for a typical WvA romp, and the cast certainly do a fantastic job of portraying this, but Hickman’s script gives more layers to enjoy and learn from, giving us a further understanding of the show’s heroes.
Aired at 5pm on Monday 4 November 2013 and at 5pm on Tuesday 5 November 2013 on CBBC.
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