Tom Baker concludes his twelfth series of audio adventures with a bumper boxset of four stories. Angels and Demons sees the irrepressible Fourth Doctor travelling with Leela (Louise Jameson) and Margaret Hopwood (Nerys Hughes).
Angel and Demons is comprised of four stories – three two-parters and a ripping four-part encounter with the Weeping Angels.
The Wizard of Time
The box set begins with a two-part tale which weaves in and out of an old man’s life. As the author Jacob Harmer (Ronald Pickup) is interviewed, he recalls the remarkable inspiration for his most fondly remembered stories.
We skip through Jacob’s memories, as he interacts with both a monster – as well as the Doctor and his companions – though the years, meeting him at 16 and 35 years old.
With an engaging meta-narrative, Roy Gill’s story is a homage to children’s fiction which unravels in a surprising and innovative way.
Of course, the tale gains an added piquancy as we remember that it is Ronald Pickup’s final Doctor Who role. Marvellously, one of his earliest appearances was in the Hartnell era historical ‘The Reign of Terror’.
The Friendly Invasion
Writer Chris Chapman brings us another smaller scale mystery, albeit one with global implications. During the WWII, the Doctor, Leela and Margaret become involved in the fate of a company of American soldiers. Dainty Company are a unit the time-travellers know will become pivotal in the coming invasion.
As well as an interesting idea, which we won’t spoil, there’s plenty of good character work. While Leela gets to marshal the troops, the Doctor becomes the landlord of The Old Boot. We also discover a little of Margaret’s past as events mirror her personal history in the conflict.
Writer Roland Moore brings us the angels of the title, as we enjoy an early encounter with the quantum-locked masonry menaces. On this occasion, they’re plaguing a crashed pleasure cruiser, picking off the crew and passengers.
When the TARDIS trio arrive, on a planet the Doctor believes has no indigenous life, they’re surprised to find a gravestone. They’re even more surprised when they meet the person who’s buried in it alive and well – the captain of the crashed ship.
Naturally, the three are immediately suspected of being responsible for the crimes, but that soon gives way into the Doctor assisting the survivors. The story cleverly uses our pre-existing knowledge of the Weeping Angels and deploys familiar sound design to bring the monsters to life. It’s always fun to match an older Doctor up with a new series monster, and the idea works very well here.
There’s a superb guest cast for ‘Stone Cold’, including the entertaining double act of Victor McGuire and Joe Sims as the troublesome passengers Huthro and Tench.
The Ghost of Margaret
Finally, writer Tim Foley concludes Margaret’s tale as she decides that the time-travelling life is not for her. As this story starts, the Doctor returns her to her home of Ravencliff for a low-key goodbye.
Of course, it couldn’t be that simple. He has accidentally delivered her to somewhere far more dangerous – a reality inhabited by her own fears and insecurities.
While the story is gloriously fantastical, it digs into Margaret’s nature and provides context for her decision to leave the TARDIS. Additionally, with a returning character, it also dangles the prospect of a happier future for her too.
Doctor Who has a chequered history when it comes to companion departures with some regulars getting the most perfunctory of goodbye scenes. Here, Big Finish deploy a much more satisfying approach with a companion who simply isn’t terribly well suited to the Doctor’s lifestyle.
As a character, Margaret Hopwood brought a fresh dimension to The Fourth Doctor Adventures, particularly through her interactions with Leela. While she didn’t take to TARDIS travel, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed her adventures thanks to a brilliant performance from Nerys Hughes. We’re sorry to see her go!
Doctor Who – The Fourth Doctor Adventures: Angels and Demons is available on Collector’s Edition CD (+ download) or download only from Big Finish.
The Fourth Doctor Adventures: Series 13
It might be a year away, but Series 13 (lucky for us!) promises three more box sets of adventures. Tom Baker well be joined by UNIT’s finest: Dr. Harry Sullivan (Christopher Naylor) and Naomi Cross (Eleanor Crooks). We’ve already heard the pair later in their respective time lines, with the Seventh Doctor and also UNIT. This series should fill in the gaps!
The first set features Sea Devils and a tale involving Alan Turing – roll on March 2024!