‘Regeneration Impossible’, the latest Short Trip, sees range editor Alfie Shaw pushing the constraints of the regular format. Thanks to the remarkable vocal talents of actor Jacob Dudman, this story chronicles a meeting of two Doctors: one during his Victorian isolation, before the events of ‘The Snowmen’, the other at the latter end of his tenure at St. Luke’s University, just prior to ‘The Pilot’. With no narration, this is a full-cast audio drama – albeit with that cast consisting entirely of Dudman.
The tale starts with the Eleventh Doctor coaxed out of his self-imposed withdrawal. When the TARDIS registers both artron and regeneration energy together he cannot resist; unmistakable signs that another Time Lord is in the vicinity. For this Doctor the lure is too great – he still believes that he destroyed Gallifrey and his whole race. The Time Lord he locates however is his later self, impossibly regenerated into an ill-tempered Scotsman.
Alfie Shaw’s story tackles the incongruity of this pairing, of all the Doctors, as the Eleventh believes himself the last. After some amusing badinage, and a touch of temporal contact, they soon crack on with solving the matter at hand. Namely that the Doctor appears to have fallen into a made-to-measure escape room, designed to sap his remaining lives.
He constructs a pleasing mystery and the treatment of regeneration energy as a transferable commodity feels very era appropriate. It is all too easy to believe that this is how these two incarnations might interact! We particularly enjoyed some of the gags, such as the reference to regenerating in a mortuary, and the nearly thirty-minute duration files by.
While some fans might take issue with anyone but the original actor, for us it is not an issue. Jacob Dudman’s take on Matt Smith’s Doctor is uncanny, and his Twelfth is impressive too; certainly good enough for us to become engaged in the story without being unduly distracted. Your mileage may vary, it is doubtless a matter of personal taste. As a performer, Dudman now has three, soon to be four, Doctors’ voices in his repertoire – he is a real find!
Listeners to the Big Finish podcast will be aware of the additional complexities involved in making ‘Regeneration Impossible’: director Nicholas Briggs helped out by voicing the “other” Doctor as Dudman performed each part in turn, giving him a foil to react to.
With music from Ioan Morris and another super Mark Plastow cover, ‘Regeneration Impossible’ is a great experiment in what else the Short Trips can be. Perhaps there are other possibilities too, such as Frazer Hines providing his Second Doctor for a two-hander with Jamie, or Peter Purves doing the same for the First Doctor and Steven?