As he begins his twelfth series of audio adventures, Tom Baker’s Doctor returns for Margaret Hopwood.
New Frontiers is the latest box set of tales featuring Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor and Louise Jameson as Leela. Despite sharing only nine onscreen adventures together, the pair have become an enduring Doctor Who combination on audio.
However, this pair of stories adds a new companion too. Nerys Hughes, who appeared as a guest star in last year’s ‘The Ravencliff Witch’, joins the TARDIS crew and reprises her role as the sculptress Margaret Hopwood.
Guy Adams’ tale begins with Margaret Hopwood feeling all at sea since her encounter with the Doctor. Luckily, he decides to return for her and give her a trip. However, it’s a misguided notion on the Doctor’s part as Margaret struggles with the revelation of her art surviving beyond her lifetime. It’s a neat counterpoint to what he’ll do in the future for Vincent van Gogh. Handily, Leela is on hand to help her through it and they form a quick bond.
The story itself surrounds a heist, as the title suggests, but manages to do something different with the Ice Warriors. Rather than the noble military creatures we are used to, the motives of their group are far less honourable.
While the Doctor is open-minded, Leela comes with pre-conceived notions about the Ice Warriors thanks to an unseen adventure in Blackpool (one we’d like to hear!) It’s a smart move and saves a good deal of explanation.
The guest cast are having a ball, from Adele Lynch (the Ice Queen from ‘The Empress of Mars’) to Oliver Chris as the dodgy artist. Also, Robert Whitelock and Beth Chalmers, both entertain in their dual roles. Plus, naturally, director Nicholas Briggs who adds another few ice Warriors to his repertoire.
Antillia the Lost
With Margaret beginning find her TARDIS legs, the second tale brings us to a mysterious island in space. One that comes and goes like a sort of interdimensional Brigadoon (with the tale presumably taking its name from the Portuguese island of legend).
Antillia is a former science research base which disappeared 50 years ago and whose original purpose is lost to time. Was it a staging post for deep space missions. Or something else? Boarding an experimental craft and led by enthusiastic scientist Dr Vance, plucky reporter Theodora Markway (The Sarah Jane Adventures’ Anjil Mohindra) intends to find out. However, as “The Blade” travels, it drags the TARDIS with them…
With a puzzle at the heart of his tale, writer Phil Mulryne splits the TARDIS team in different ways, pairing the Doctor with the scientist, Leela with the company man and his muscle, Margaret with the reporter. It’s a good strategy and allows them all time to shine as they embark on an adventure which involves underground tunnels, grotesquely disfigured creatures and a suspicious scientist.
However, with Antillia having only been lost for five decades, we did wonder at how it has seemingly passed into legend quite so quickly. Perhaps such things happen much faster in the future?
The guest characters are all engaging, and we enjoyed the blustery Sanderson Craske (Andrew Wincott) with his trigger-happy “muscle” Brett (Keziah Joseph). It would have been nice to spend more time with the capable Dr Vance (Richard Lumsden).
While we never tire of the Fourth Doctor and Leela, a new companion adds a fresh dimension to the mix. Leela gets to show off her experience, despite their contrasting ages, and her relationship with Margaret is a charming one. It’s also good to hear the Fourth Doctor have a new friend to share his exploits with.
Both tales in this box set are a lot of fun. We look forward to seeing where this newly minted TARDIS trio heads next.
Doctor Who – The Fourth Doctor Adventures: New Frontiers is available on Collector’s Edition CD (+ download), or digital download only from Big Finish.
The Fourth Doctor Adventures: Angels and Demons
Next up for the Fourth Doctor is a bumper four-story box set.
Releasing in June, Angels and Demons promises a guest star appearance from the late Ronald Pickup and an encounter with the Weeping Angels. Check out the details here.