Subterfuge concludes the latest trilogy of Doctor Who Monthly Adventures from Big Finish. Each story has brought back allies and set familiar foes against the Seventh Doctor. Dark Universe saw him teamed with an older Ace and battling The Eleven, while The Psychic Circus involved The Master. Similarly, Subterfuge sees the Meddling Monk interfering in Winston Churchill’s post-war election campaign.
The 1954 election was a complex one, as the country reverted to adversarial politics after a wartime coalition. Allies resumed their roles as enemies; Churchill’s Conservatives set against Clement Attlee’s Labour Party.
Likewise, the two Time Lords are at odds from the outset. The Monk has been busy working to ensure Churchill’s victory, seeking to forestall the creation of the welfare state. This places the Doctor in an invidious position; he must steer his friend back to established history and back on course for a landslide defeat.
Meanwhile, MI5 are on the trail of a former Nazi agent – active througout the war and now looking to make their escape in incendiary fashion. Added to the mix are a pair of alien orphans, also keen to flee, but forced to use their remarkable powers under duress.
Historically, various reasons contributed to Churchill’s defeat, but writer Helen Goldwyn astutely focuses on his campaign rhetoric; events coalesce around a particularly divisive speech in which he famously equated socialism to a dictatorship, before suggesting Labour would need some sort of Gestapo to implement its policies.
The wonderful Ian McNeice again brings his Churchill to life, with this Doctor’s goal making for an unusual dynamic. Rufus Hound reprises his Monk and is conniving, petty and terrifically entertaining to boot! He is a great foil for Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor and his detestation for the Monk’s self-serving antics shines through.
In the wider cast, Mimi Mdiweni and Phillip Labey play the Dowan siblings and Brian Capron is great fun as Kulcade of MI5.
A highly entertaining celebrity historical set at a fascinating moment, with plenty of thought-provoking light to shine on the present, Subterfuge is certainly well worth a listen!