The Fourth Doctor Adventures Metamorphosis cover art crop

The Fourth Doctor Adventures: Metamorphosis – audio boxset review

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Harry Sullivan and Naomi Cross enjoy three more adventures with the Tom Baker’s Doctor. 

Flexing the format a little, the latest Fourth Doctor audio boxset contains three 2-part adventures.

The first brings the Doctor face to face with the Toymaker, albeit in a new different form. The second is a fantastical affair – a celebrity historical involving Rossetti and a number of wombats. Finally, there’s a further encounter with the decaying Master, played by the delightfully creepy Geoffrey Beevers.

The Fourth Doctor Adventures - Metamorphosis boxset cover art


Recorded long before the Toymaker’s on-screen return, ‘Matryoshka’ sets the game-loving villain against the Fourth Doctor. It’s not his first audio appearance however – Big Finish have dramatized the lost Colin Baker adventure ‘The Nightmare Fair’ and used him in the Eighth Doctor Companion Chronicle ‘Solitaire’ too. On both occasions, he was played by the late david bailie.

Here, the time travellers become embroiled in the fate of a little girl. Young Etta played with a Ouija board and promptly disappeared but her father, a game maker, has not lost hope and has called on the services of a medium. As Madame Bisset travels to her appointment, a seemingly chance encounter with the TARDIS crew sees the Doctor, Harry and Naomi join her.

A series of tricks and games follow, as the Doctor and the Toymaker do battle, while his companions also try to solve puzzles and stay alive.

Writer Aurora Fearnley’s tale frames the Toymaker as a trapped in another place, but able to exert influence. This allows a big, heavily accented performance from Annette Badland as Madame Bisset to morph into something far more sinister.

The Caged Assassin

For the second story, writer Matthew Sweet brings us accents and animals in a bizarre Victorian tale. It’s also a celebrity historical, as Mark Gatiss gives us his take on the Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Events begin with a wombat’s funeral and get stranger as they go along. From gun toting wombats to a radioactive tiger, it’s all utterly bonkers but charming enough to get away with it. The story is also suffused with apparently true, period detail. Compared to this, the poor old Meep was positively pedestrian!

Mark Gatiss has a blast as Rossetti, with Glen McCready as Top the Wombat. Plus, Isabella Inchbald and Michael Fenton Stevens entertain in multiple roles, both human and marsupial.


Concluding the set, Lisa McMullin’s ‘Metamorphosis’ is by far the most traditional of the three stories. Which isn’t to say there’s not plenty to recommend it.

Featuring the decaying ‘crispy’ Master, as played by Geoffery Beevers, we find him on the planet Jaxus – a world with three suns and metal skinned inhabitants.

When the Doctor and his companions arrive, they’re soon enlisted to help with a spate of disappearances. However, as both companions fall victim to the Master’s traps, the Doctor is paired with Lydia West’s Cahlo as to figure out what is going on. Of course, it’s another of the Master’s desperate schemes to revivify himself, but neither Harry or Naomi knows his true nature.

Tom Baker seems on particularly buoyant form here, quoting from Hamlet and showboating to impress Cahlo.

In Summary

This boxset offers three quite different styles of adventure, from the Toymaker’s tricks to the fantastical world of Victorian pets, and finally the depraved desperation of the Master. Throughout, Tom Baker sparkles as he sails through all the madness.

At his side, Christopher Naylor continues to impress as Harry Sullivan, who’s down-to-Earth perspective is much needed to ground the Doctor. Meanwhile, Eleanor Crooks’ Naomi Cross gladly embraces her new life of adventures, even if we remain unconvinced that she hails from the same time as Harry.

Chiming nicely in places with the latest Doctor’s more fantastical adventures on television, this is another entertaining set of stories and well worth picking up.

Four Stars

The Fourth Doctor Adventures: Metamorphosis is available as a collector’s edition 3-disc CD box set (+ download), or on digital download only, from Big Finish.