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Big Finish Review: An Alien Werewolf in London

Concluding the brilliant trilogy with the Seventh Doctor and his new companion, though returning character, Mags, is An Alien Werewolf into London, which sees the Doctor and his alien Werewolf arriving in London and reuniting with the Doctor’s previous companion, Ace, who, presumably, has just been sent away from Gallifrey at the beginning of the Time War and had her memories of that time scrambled. But does An Alien Werewolf in London stand up to its namesake?

Alan Barnes is on hand here as the writer for this story and over the course of the story, he takes his time setting up the breadcrumbs for us to follow. He makes sure there are plenty of twists and turns peppered throughout the adventure and there is certainly a lot of plot to follow.

As usual, though, there is more than one alien in London and the real baddies turn out to be a group of vampires and anyone who knows their Doctor Who mythos knows that the Time Lords and Vampires are old enemies so we can expect some explosive moments.

Indeed, there were a few moments littered throughout this story that I didn’t see coming and Alan Barnes certainly kept the twists coming so much so that one wonders maybe if there were one-two-many but his creation of the Sin-Eater was an inspired one, even I wasn’t too sure what it was actually about! This might have been because I was listening to this at the same time as I was sorting my comic-book collection out so might not have been concentrating but I would have maybe liked a few more bits of information on the creature. But it all gave us a satisfying conclusion so it couldn’t have confused me all that much!

Barnes also gives us something new and interesting for Jessica Martin as Mags to do here. Making her spend much of the story in a health care facility, he carefully makes sure that we don’t know what is real and what isn’t but he blends it nicely in with the story’s main mystery and Mags has proved herself a capable companion so luckily for us, these scenes are some of the best this story has to offer.

The cover for An Alien Werewolf in London
The cover for An Alien Werewolf in London

The other thing that Barnes handles well is the inclusion of Ace. Sophie Aldred as Ace has had a bit of a confusing timeline with Big Finish, leaving the Doctor in Love and War, then re-joining the Doctor, going to Gallifrey, then back to Earth when the Time War kicks off which is where we find her in the Class series. But there is little cohesion between these events so Barnes rightly ignores this, leaving us to surmise that Ace is currently running her charity that Sarah Jane mentions in The Death of the Doctor, (A Charitable Earth. Get it?) Indeed, Ace doesn’t hate the Doctor like she does at the end of Love and War so some considerable time has passed for the pair since they last saw each other. But as always Ace is a welcome inclusion here and Barnes makes sure she gets enough to do.

In amongst the vampire references, nods to things that the actors have done in their own careers and action sequences, there is actually a rather imaginative story to enjoy, which Barnes should be praised for. It isn’t every-writer who can pen a rip-roaring adventure that goes from the streets, skies and back again in London! The motives of the vampires are original too, these aren’t creatures who want to feed on humanity, indeed they strive to do the opposite, though they go about it in the wrong way, putting many people in harms way in process. Its a very original way to look at these creatures and the dynamic between the Doctor and them, I’d be happy to see them return at some time in the future.

Sylvester McCoy is excellent as always and like with any great Seventh Doctor story, he straddles the line between good and evil with ease. Its always nice to hear the Doctor switching between sides, never fully knowing which side is good and the other evil. McCoy’s Doctor is the one who battled darkness with darkness the most and it’s great to hear McCoy continue to do that here! With this being his last Main Range release of this year, I’m really looking forward to hearing another trilogy of adventures with his Doctor next year!

Jessica Martin has no doubt been the breakout star of this year. Originally Mags was a one-off character in 1988, designed for one story and then destined to never be seen again. But Big Finish are magicians at bringing beloved characters back and Mags is no exception. Throughout this trilogy she has shown us why she is such a capable companion, sneakily stealing things that will help the Doctor, solving much of the mysteries without the Doctor being around, being funny and brave. Martin’s performance throughout these three adventures has been fantastic too and she is clearly having a ball getting to play this character again. I’ve no doubt she will become a very popular companion thanks to these adventures, already she ranks up there with Evelyn, Hex and Erimem for me! And it’s nice that promises not to be the last story for the Seventh Doctor and Mags as the story ends with the pair heading back for the TARDIS. Please, can we have more with this team Big Finish?

Sophie Aldred is always a welcome presence with Big Finish, no matter what range of Doctor Who audio’s she is featuring on. Here, she gets to play a slightly older version of the character and as a result, Ace is a little wiser. That’s not to say that her fun-loving attitude has gone as Aldred delights in playing the scenes here where she is flying around in helicopters and stealing cars! Buts its interesting to see some of Ace’s later timeline playing out across Big Finish and as long as they continue, I’ll always be here to listen to them!

The guest cast here is excellent too. Shiloh Coke has brilliant chemistry in the hospital scenes with Jessica Martin, making sure you don’t know quite what side she is on! Jacob Collins Levy makes for a great villain in the form of Rufus and Rex Duis, Lara Lemon and Gideon Turner are also excellent in their roles as different vampires. Overall, this is an excellent guest cast with no weak link between them.

New coming director Samuel Clemens who has directed this trilogy has done another brilliant job here, wrapping us this set of stories in style. His cast is excellent and he never lets up, keeping the story moving along at a real pace. Hopefully, we’ll see more from him at Big Finish in the near future!

Overall, An Alien Werewolf In London does stand up to its movie counterpart. In fact, it goes above and beyond to make sure its something completely new, different and fresh with its great script from Alan Barnes. The main cast is on fire and makes a great team, it’s a shame that Ace doesn’t go with them at the end. Hopefully, this won’t be the last we hear from her with Mags and the Seventh Doctor!

Mags continues to be a great inclusion in the companion ranks, working brilliantly alongside McCoy’s darker Doctor which was nice to hear again. The guest cast was strong too and this is a case where everything comes together to make something excellent! I can’t wait to hear more!