Doctor Who - Sontarans vs Rutans 3 - Born To Die cover art crop

Sontarans vs Rutans: Born to Die – Doctor Who audio review

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We’ve enjoyed adventures with the Eighth and Third Doctors, now it’s the turn of the Sixth and Charley Pollard. 

The third story in this mini-series which explores the endless conflict between the clone warrior Sontarans and the shape changing Rutan host takes us away from Earth.

In terms of the Sixth Doctor, it takes place in that odd period where he was travelling with Charley Pollard. He’s unaware that she is a future companion, while Charley’s keeping quiet for the sake of the web of time.

Born to Die

The story begins with a case of wrong place, wrong time for the Doctor and Charley – a Doctor Who staple. Visiting the rainforest planet of Taxodon, home to the notoriously reclusive Nox, they come across an ailing Sontaran who promptly dies.

Naturally, they’re accused of the crime but, thanks to the Doctor invoking an arcane piece of law, he has until sunset to prove their innocence. He gets to work while Charlie is held in custody, as Sontarans begin to drop like flies around him…

Doctor Who - Sontarans vs Rutans 3 - Born To Die cover art

Tiegan Byrne’s accomplished debut tale brings us an element of the Sontaran war machine on a monstrous mission, attempting to acquire the natural camouflage abilities of the Nox for themselves. However, as the Doctor peels back the layers of what is occurring on Taxodon, there’s a much deeper and disturbing scheme at play.

There’s plenty provided for both Colin Baker and India Fisher to do, with the Doctor investigating and Charley finding an ally among the indigenous Nox as she uncovers part of the puzzle. Plus, more than a little fun had with the whole future companion situation.

More than any other Doctor Who species, the case is easily made for returning actors playing individuals. Here, the two stars of 2007’s ‘The Sontaran Stratagem’ / ‘The Poison Sky’, Christopher Ryan and Dan Starkey, return with their clone force augmented by the talents of Jon Culshaw. Dan Starkey particularly shines as the honourable cadet Skole, who’s assigned to assist the Doctor, and the actor also provides the vocalisations of the Nox too.

Composer Joe Kraemer provides a varied score, with a pleasing touch of the Sontar-ha! as well as themes which, alongside David Roocroft’s sound design, capture the spirit of the unusual setting.

In summary

This is another solid tale in the Sontarans vs Rutans saga, with a couple of clever twists and turns. Also, given that this is an interstellar conflict, it was good to have a story with no apparent connection to the Earth. We’re not quite sure exactly how ‘Born to Die’ it connects to the other stories, as it feels quite standalone, but doubtless all will become clear in the final instalment.

Four Stars

Doctor Who: Sontarans vs Rutans: Born to Die is available now, on CD and download, from Big Finish.

Next Month: ‘In Name Only’

April concludes the Sontarans vs Rutans mini-series with an adventure for the War Doctor, penned by John Dorney.

In the depths of the Time War, a Rutan attack on a Time Lord facility leads to Gallifrey declaring a vicious reprisal. But not all Time Lords support the action. One thinks there’s more to the situation than meets the eye. And this Time Lord… was once called the Doctor.

Jonathon Carley plays the War Doctor and Debbie Korley is Blaxill. John Banks, Christopher Ryan and Dan Starkey play various Sontarans.

Doctor Who: Sontarans vs Rutans: In Name Only is available to pre order now.