Continuing their adventures with the Doctor, Vicki and Steven find themselves on a strange new world. This series of Early Adventures sees the TARDIS team go on a series of connected stories and An Ideal World, from Ian Potter picks up quickly where The Dalek Occupation of Winter left off. Quickly separated from the TARDIS, the gang find themselves amongst a crew of explorers in cryo-sleep, there are terraforming drones which are running amok, bad weather and something else stirring on the planet’s surface…
Ian Potter delivers another fairly solid Doctor Who adventure in the form of An Ideal World. It is a story where all the ingredients are there but don’t mix as well as one would like. That is a crying shame because Potter has delivered some very enjoyable stories to the world of Big Finish in the past. Perhaps the biggest problem I had with this story was how bleak it felt. Set during the early days of human exploration in space, thus setting it before Steven and Vicki’s time, everything is very strict. And this might have worked, believe it or not, I actually enjoy Nekromantia, an audio drama considered to be one of the worst Big Finish stories of all time, but I found An Ideal World got off to slow a start to really hold my interest.
There are some nice things though, Potter’s descriptions of things really capture the imagination and it is clear that he has a way with words. And his world building is brilliant. Even if I didn’t find the finished product all that great, the world and characters that Potter has created here worked very well. So for that, he must be given a lot of credit.
The performances from the main and guest cast were also really enjoyable. Maureen O’Brien and Peter Purves are always fantastic and they just seem to have an uncanny ability to turn back time. It feels like its 1965 all over again and the pair has a great chemistry. O’Brien is just amazing as Vicki, she’s always been considered by me as a great companion and hugely underrated by the rest of the Who community and she once again proves why she is a great addition to the cast, both in 1965 and in 2018.
Purves does a brilliant job as the narrator, Steven and the Doctor. Potter quickly takes the Doctor out of the action with a little nod and wink to the fact that the actors back in the day would always have an episode where they didn’t appear because they were on holiday and this mostly works here. It does mean though that most of the action is placed on Vicki and Steven and even though O’Brien and Purves are more than up for the challenge, it is a story that might have benefited from the Doctor has been in it more. Purves also performs the narration duties well, alongside O’Brien whom the linking duties are shared between. He has a way of bringing everything to life so he is always a welcome presence in this audios and he is obviously still fantastic as Steven Taylor.
Director, Lisa Bowerman has also assembled a strong guest cast to perform the characters of the less-than-perfect crew of the Magellan as well as those the crew meet on the planet’s surface. For her part, Bowerman does a great job of keeping the story going, even if there are a few pacing issues with the script. It is clear how much she loves working with Big Finish and that is still clear here!
Overall, An Ideal World is an enjoyable enough adventure. It boasts a strong cast whose performances are excellent and some strong direction from Lisa Bowerman who always does a tremendous job with anything she puts her mind too. If the script starts off slowly and then struggles to pick it up its pace, then we can rejoice in the fact that there is nothing here that, while I don’t think their budget would have stretched this far, wouldn’t have been in a 1965 story. We’ve got two companions at the height of their popularity, a brilliant Doctor, even if he isn’t in it that much, an interesting story and premise, a dodgy crew and a great guest cast. So maybe this is classic Doctor Who through and through?
Light years from Earth, a vast human spaceship hangs in orbit over a cloudy alien planet. The crew have been travelling in cryosleep for many years, looking for a habitable world to settle, and have at last located one with potential.
However, they’re not the only people to have arrived in this place. The TARDIS has landed on the planet’s surface. The Doctor, Steven and Vicki explore and quickly find themselves separated.
But it isn’t merely the hostile environment and rogue terraforming drones they’ll have to deal with. Something else is living on this world. Something deadly and waiting to consume.
It’s an ideal world. But ideal for whom?
Written By: Ian Potter
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman
Maureen O’Brien (Vicki / Narrator), Peter Purves (Steven Taylor / The Doctor / Narrator), Angela McHale (Kay / Christophe), Alex Jordan (Heathcote), Tom Stourton (Factotum / Fitzgerald / Samsara), Carolyn Pickles (Traherne), Oliver Mason (Grant / Danuka), Lisa Bowerman (Elias). Other parts played by members of the cast.
Producer: David Richardson
Script Editor: John Dorney
Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs