Our first encounter with endless battle of Sontarans vs Rutans finds the enemies in Ancient Ireland… but why do the Sontarans believe they are Roman Legionnaires battling the Celts?
Remarkably, it’s been fifty years since we were first introduced to Linx the Sontaran (in 1974’s ‘The Time Warrior’). As we met him, we also heard tell of his species’ mortal enemies the Rutans and the perpetual war between the interstellar empires.
While the Sontarans reoccurred across Doctor Who‘s classic era, and through into the new, we only saw one onscreen encounter with a shapeshifting Rutan – the terrific ‘Horror of Fang Rock’.
Bringing the enemies together to explore their enduring enmity is such a good idea. To be honest, you’ve got to wonder why it has taken Big Finish so long!
‘The Battle of Giant’s Causeway’
Drawing the Eighth Doctor and his companions back to Ancient Ireland, this is just the sort of story we love – taking a familiar historical location and giving it a science fiction twist.
It’s companions because, in addition to Charley Pollard (India Fisher), the Eighth Doctor’s first companion on audio, there’s also C’rizz (Conrad Westmaas) who accompanied the pair for a run of stories in those early years. The alien C’rizz, who’s more reserved and empathic, with some shape changing ability himself, contrasts well with the gung ho Charley.
Writer Lizzie Hopley’s story plays with the theme of identity. The Sontarans we meet here are under the delusion that they are Roman Legionnaires, persecuting a war against the Celts. Meanwhile, the shapeshifting Rutans have found their own place to hide in this evocative landscape.
While the stalwart Sontaran actor Dan Starkey (best known for Strax) plays the Commander Caecilius Crassus Procullus, John Banks voices the leader of these forces, General Ignatius Antias Salutio. It’s a welcome return for the versatile Banks who is no stranger to the clone warriors. Thanks to the Sontaran’s group delusion, there’s plenty of fun to be had – including a remarkable bathing scene (a rare occasion where we are glad this story is on audio!)
With a crisis averted, but elements of the tale left unresolved, ‘The Battle of Giant’s Causeway’ does a great job of reintroducing the Rutans and their deceptive modus operandi. However, we’re not sure that an endless intergalactic conflict should be quite this much fun!
Doctor Who: Sontarans vs Rutans: The Battle of Giant’s Causeway is available now, on CD and download, from Big Finish.
Next Month: ‘The Children of the Future’
February 2024 brings the second installment of Sontarans vs Rutans. It’s a Third Doctor tale from writer Tim Foley titled ‘The Children of the Future’.
The Brigadier is used to the Doctor acting strangely, but this time there’s something decidedly different about the whole affair. As he looks into the Time Lord’s odd activities outside of UNIT, there’s a mystery that’ll take Lethbridge-Stewart to a site very familiar to Sarah Jane Smith.
Can the Brigadier trust his old friend? Who are his mysterious new allies? And is the future of humanity really at stake? A Sontaran threat could spell the end of their long-standing friendship… and the entire planet!
Tim Treloar stars as the Doctor, with Sadie Miller as Sarah Jane Smith and Jon Culshaw as the Brigadier.
Doctor Who: Sontarans vs Rutans: The Children of the Future is available to pre order now.