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The Fourth Doctor Adventures – Storm of the Sea Devils audio review

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The Doctor reunites with an old friend and finds a new companion in adventures that take them from the mangrove swamps of West Bengal to an alien holiday resort.

Tom Baker’s thirteenth series of Doctor Who audio adventures kicks off (another) new era. For this run, he’s joined by former companion Surgeon-Lieutenant Harry Sullivan as well as a new face: UNIT’s Naomi Cross.

While the Sea Devil story bags the box set title, it’s actually comprised of two quite different tales.

Storm of the Sea Devils

When UNIT get wind of something afoot at an exclusive resort, Harry Sullivan is diverted from his holiday to investigate. Accompanied by the enthusiastic Naomi Cross, who relishes the opportunity to escape her desk, Harry goes in undercover. However, responding to the call for a medic, he’s not the only Doctor to attend.

Wealthy industrialist Ramesh Kamal’s high-end hotel is built in the mangrove swamps of the Sundarbans and surrounded by pet crocodiles. It’s strangely devoid of guests though – there’s just the unprincipled businessman, his anxious wife, a henchman and a wounded professor. Oh, and a Sea Devil chained up in the swimming pool…

Doctor Who - The Fourth Doctor Adventures: Storm of the Sea Devils cover art

Writer David K Barnes brings us a familiar monster in a fascinating setting. His tale has a Bond movie feel; this villain’s all-consuming avarice might just provoke an inter-species war!

Saltwater Sea Devils

Unlike their land-dwelling cousins, the Sea Devils have never quite troubled the top tier of Doctor Who monsters. It’s challenging to find something new to do with them too, as we’re surely resigned to ending in a stalemate or a bloodbath, like other Silurian and Sea Devil stories. Here, the excitement comes from a different and dangerous environment – why wouldn’t there be saltwater dwelling species – and an unscrupulous human villain.

The rich soundscape of pouring rain and snapping crocodiles from Toby Hrycek-Robinson helps sell this atmospheric location too and Jamie Roberston’s score evokes the atonal electronic sounds from Malcolm Clarke’s memorable score for The Sea Devils too.

Sullivan and Cross

In addition to providing a ripping good yarn, this tale (re)introduce two companions. Thanks to the non-linear nature of the Big Finish schedule, regular audio devotes may know their futures from other stories, but from their perspective the time travelling adventures of Sullivan and Cross begin here.

It’s great to have Harry return and the Doctor’s delight at finding his old friend mirrors our own feelings. Meanwhile, Naomi comes across strongly with the Doctor weighing her suitability as the story proceeds.

Among the guest cast, Nick Briggs voices the Sea Devil leader Taurix, while Tracey Wiles plays the captured scientist Shorak. It’s a first to have a female Sea Devil, although surely they must exist, so a welcome move. As Ramesh Kamal, Silas Carson is wonderfully evil, while Amina Zia impresses as the fretful Amita.

Worlds Beyond

The box set’s second tale is an engaging two-parter from writers Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky. After a little criticism of the TARDIS, the Doctor aims to impress Naomi with a visit to a holiday resort. They arrive at a planet which provides bespoke diversions for each guest after a brain scan – the Doctor’s not impressed but persuaded to stay by his companions.

What follows is a fun character study with a thought-provoking little twist. Throughout, Naomi grows in self-confidence, while there’s a little nod to Harry’s backstory.

Meanwhile, the Doctor gets to interact with a version of Alan Turing, the famous wartime mathematician and computing pioneer. It’s a nice turn by Anthony Howell but doesn’t delve particularly deep into the character.

In Summary

Poor Harry Sullivan got such short shift on television, so it’s a thrill to have him return for more adventures. We’ve praised Christopher Naylor’s performance before, and both these stories give Harry the opportunity to shine rather than making him the butt of the joke. He might be rather mannered, but Harry is also a trained medic and a naval officer with a certain set of skills.

Eleanor Crooks’ Naomi Cross brings a fresh, modern voice to the proceedings. Perhaps too modern? Although it’s never stated, we assume she and Harry encounter the Doctor sometime around the mid-to-late 70s but she hits the ears like a forthright 21st century character. Regardless, Naomi is compassionate and nobody’s fool, two essential characteristics for a TARDIS traveller.

For his part, Tom Baker seems to delight in the new dynamic between the three and his thirteenth series on audio gets off to a solid start. Lucky for us!

Four Stars

Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures: Storm of the Sea Devils is available now, on CD and download, from Big Finish.

Next: Metamorphosis

With a puzzle of a cliffhanger ending we’re set up for the next box set from this trio. Metamorphosis is released in June and promises three stories. The first of which features the Toymaker in a new guise, played by Annette Badland, while the last is an encounter with the Master (Geoffrey Beevers).

You can pre order Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Adventures: Metamorphosis from Big Finish now.