Set a little while before the Twelfth Doctor met Bill Potts in Series 10, Dead Media gives us a rather strange entry into the Doctor’s mysterious time as a lecturer at St. Luke’s University.
Each release in the Short Trips range comes with its own narrator and this time, that role has been given to the young Jacob Dudman, a very good impressionist, who so far has made his name in the Doctor Who circles for his impressive takes on both David Tennant and Matt Smith. If you haven’t already check out the collaboration video he did with fellow impressionist, Jon Culshaw called The Curator, set during The Day of the Doctor, it’s great.
Here though, he gets to sink his teeth into the role of the Twelfth Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi. And boy does he do it justice. Now, his impersonation might not be spot-on but Capaldi has a very hard voice to imitate and he is a lot older than Dudman so that must make it harder to emulate. And Capaldi stands as one of my favourite Doctor’s and certainly my favourite incarnation of the character to come out of the modern era, so I won’t be entirely happy until he turns up again and performs the role himself, maybe with a boxset with Bill, Nardole and Missy? Pretty please Big Finish?
But Dudman does a great job with the material and he captures the way that Capaldi performed the role brilliantly. All the little quirks and tweaks he did with his voice is here as well as the disdainful way the Twelfth Doctor would deal with situations. It was great to hear and I’m looking forward to seeing what Dudman can do with the upcoming Twelfth Doctor Chronicles, coming out in February 2020.
As a narrator, Dudman also does a great job bringing the story to life, barely pausing for breath. In fact, he keeps the story rattling along at a great pace.
In many ways, Dead Media is in the same experimental vein as a lot of early Big Finish releases. Some of them, like Whispers of Terror and Creatures of Beauty amongst many others, went to great pains to explore the audio format and tried to find new ways to tell a story. Author John Richards has set the story in a podcast, which the Twelfth Doctor is hosting, much to his disdain. But Richards makes sure we know the Doctor actually has a good time getting to try this out, even if the story itself is surprisingly sad by the end and hits you really hard when you realise how invested you’d become in these characters.
Richards also draws some interesting parallels between the Third Doctor’s exile and the Twelfth Doctor’s choice to stay in one place at one time. I think that was perhaps one of Series 10’s biggest successes was that it wasn’t the Doctor flying off around in space for big intergalactic battles a lot of the time, but it actually brought the action back to Earth and closer to home and that was a formula that had worked in the show’s favour in the past. Richards also gives us some nice continuity references from both the classic and modern eras of the show, my favourite being the mention of Ace and the Cybermen in Silver Nemesis.
Overall Dead Media does brilliant justice to the Twelfth Doctor and gives us another enjoyable outing for this incarnation. The script from John Richards is excellent and the story is helped along wonderfully by director Nicholas Briggs who makes sure to keep things on track. And Jacob Dudman is just brilliant, bringing the Twelfth Doctor’s spirit and energy alive like it was on the television series. He should be very proud of himself. Dead Media is certainly one to check out!