Stephen Noonan’s tenure as the First Doctor continues with the return of an old companion.
Now in his third boxset of adventures, Stephen Noonan’s performance of the First Doctor breaks new ground. Fugitive of the Daleks not only pits him against his deadliest foes, but also reunites the Doctor with a former companion.
Vicki (Maureen O’Brien) travelled in the TARDIS as a teenager. Rescued from a crashed spaceship on the planet Dido, she was part of the show alongside Ian and Barbara, and later Steven, before leaving for love in ‘The Myth Makers’.
Here, Vicki meets the Doctor much later in her life – she’s now both a Grandmother and a widow, following the death of her beloved Troilus. As the TARDIS arrives for her, and she finds the Doctor in need of medical attention, Vicki is again whisked off into an adventure which plays out across time and space.
Fugitive of the Daleks
What follows is a spiritual successor to ‘The Chase’, with a link to the cliffhanger ending of the previous audio boxset. From ancient Carthage to a space station monitoring a dying sun, to meeting Custer prior to the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the pair are constantly pursued by the Daleks in their own time machine.
Jonathan Morris’ script gives us plenty of that comic action feel, constantly shifting locations as the story plays out with some hearty Dalek action. He also displays his breadth of knowledge of the First Doctor’s era (and beyond), with numerous connections to onscreen adventures. These are well-judged though and don’t overwhelm the story.
In the finale, there’s also a threat to Earth’s history, but it really takes second place to the charming interaction between the characters. However, saying much more is rather difficult as there are a number of pivotal reveals that we wouldn’t dare spoil!
Vicki returns to the TARDIS older and wiser, with a lifetime of experience but no less enthusiasm for her adventures. Maureen O’Brien tackles the role with relish, as she did in her recent onscreen appearance for Tales of the TARDIS.
Initially absent from the tale, Lauren Cornelius again impresses as Dodo Chaplet when she does arrive. Despite a spirted performance, she doesn’t get that much to do. However, it is pleasing to hear Dodo interact with the Daleks and give them what for!
Throughout, Stephen Noonan’s take on the First Doctor is a joy. He captures the delightfully changeable nature of Hartnell’s performance and the scenes between the Doctor and Vicki towards the end of the story are genuinely moving.
Among the talented guest cast, Mark Elstob, Ashley Cousins and Gary Turner all take on multiple roles in various accents, while Genevieve Gaunt runs the Perpetuity Space Station as Astronomer-Scientist Hedra. Plus, director Nicholas Briggs gives us a range of Daleks – as well as popping up in a comic role too.
Fugitive of the Daleks captures the lighter hues of early Doctor Who, as well as providing a pleasing return for a classic companion. It provides six episodes of unadulterated fun and ends with an audacious parting shot guaranteed to make you smile.
Doctor Who – The First Doctor Adventures: Fugitive of the Daleks is available now, on CD and download, from Big Finish.