Tenth Doctor Classic Companions

Tenth Doctor Classic Companions – Doctor Who audio boxset review

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David Tennant had a very productive lockdown… but is this the last of his Tenth Doctor efforts for now? 

While the pandemic was catastrophic for the creative arts, it did produce a few unexpected surprises. One such ray of light in dark times was the sudden availability of David Tennant to audio producers Big Finish.

Perched in his attic, the Tenth Doctor actor recorded a number of audio dramas including the terrific Dalek Universe series, three double-doctor encounters and this boxset: Tenth Doctor Classic Companions.

With the Thirteenth Doctor meeting old friends onscreen in ‘The Power of the Doctor’, reunions are clearly en vogue. Here, the Tenth reunites with Leela (Louise Jameson), Nyssa (Sarah Sutton), Ace (Sophie Aldred) and the redoubtable K9 (John Leeson). As a fan, we can only imagine that David Tennant was in his element… but how do the stories turn out?


Beginning with Leela relating a tale, we find the Doctor reuniting with K9 (Romana’s MK II, we assume). Floating in space, the Doctor’s canine companion is on a mission to track down Time War related temporal anomalies; he’s been waiting for his old master to arrive.

Heading for Earth, they soon encounter Leela. Ever the warrior, she defiantly protects a cursed Cornish village; as each child reaches its eighteenth birthday, they are spirited away by the forest minions of the Spriggan.

With a puzzle to work out, the Doctor draws on Leela’s local knowledge. He’s also fascinated that she survived the Time War seemingly unscathed; this is not the Lady of Obsidian who met the War Doctor.

Amid the story’s twisted fairy tale trappings, drawing on the real Spriggan myth, John Dorney’s story contains plenty of heart. As ever, Louise Jameson is marvellous as Leela who works incredibly well with the Tenth Doctor – although I’m fairly certain she’d pair well with any Doctor. There’s also a terrific monster performance with the Spriggan too.

The Stuntman

Lizzie Hopley’s tale takes us in the realms of Hollywood where we meet Nyssa. Although she seems to believe she’s a stuntwoman named Kasey-Ann Frost (one for the anagram fans) who works with her father at a film studio.

With K9 (Kent Novum) caught up in this fictional reality too, it is up to the Doctor to help her back to reality, stirring up memories of Melkurs and Masters.

There’s a wider plot which connected to mis-appropriated Time War technology but, in truth, this is more of a character piece. As well as revisiting the more mature Nyssa, it also gives John Leeson a chance to stretch his acting legs, providing the “tin dog” actor with a lot more to chew on.

Quantum of Axos

Roy Gill’s tale brings us to the present day, with that older Ace (now Dorothy McShane) of book and Blu-ray, who runs her foundation “A Charitable Earth” – so much spun from a line in The Sarah Jane Adventures! She’s also now the custodian of a K9 unit herself, one which arrived in a crate at Christmas time… sounds familiar?

Returning from a mission, she’s intrigued when an employee demonstrates a new app. Purportedly using AI, it regresses photos, however it is too accurate, showing the Ace of 1988, bomber jacker, blue peter badges and all.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and K9 are on the trail of an anomaly in Cambridge, which leads them to the makers of that app; Demonstrating an impossibly advanced hands-free, blink-controlled camera, student Kayla (Lucie Goldie) set them on the path.

All roads lead to a corporate presentation, where Ace and the Doctor reunite to battle Axos’ latest attempt to free their temporal prison and conquer the Earth.

This is a superb story and easily the highlight of the set. Fast moving and funny, playing on the fears of modern technology, it is very much in the Russell T Davies-era style. Also, there’s an irresistible pun about “The Clause of Axos”.

In summary

As Doctor Who advances through the years, companions become the Doctor’s best friend. Then they, and we as viewers move on. This churn keeps the programme fresh for new viewers and full of engaging material for the actors who play the roles. However, it’s fun to think that he might drop in on old friends sometimes. Of course, that’s tough to do onscreen, although it does happen, and far easier on audio.

This set of re-encounters with classic companions channels the vibe of ‘School Reunion’, finding all four old friends still fighting the good fight, just like Sarah Jane Smith did. One of them shines with spin-off potential too… what is it about pairing K9 with former TARDIS travellers?

In short, not perhaps the most challenging set of stories, but lots of nostalgic fun.

3 1/2 stars

Doctor Who: Tenth Doctor Classic Companions is available now on collector’s edition CD box set (+ download) or as a digital download only, exclusively from Big Finish.