It wasn’t too long ago that it seemed impossible for Big Finish to produce the audio adventures of the Modern-Era Doctors. But over the last few years, we’ve had new adventures for the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors. And fans didn’t think that the first of the Tenth Doctor’s companions they would get back would be Catherine Tate! But it was in 2017 that the first of the Tenth Doctor’s three sets of stories came out with David Tennant and Catherine Tate at the helm.
Now, they are back for three new adventures and the first of which also sees the return of Bernard Cribbins and Jaqueline King as Wilfred Mott and Sylvia Noble!
Some fans might not know that there was intended to be a story with the Tenth Doctor that followed the ghost-television show that was made famous thanks to Most Haunted. However, like many stories and concepts, it never made it to screen. But No Place, from James Goss, works almost like an entry into The Lost Adventures range from Big Finish.
As usual for stories with this TARDIS teams, things are pretty light and amusing in the beginning and Tennant and Tate are obviously having a blast pretending to be a married couple and it’s so funny to hear! And it’s great to hear Sylvia and Wilf having to keep up the pretence, even if they do sometimes amusingly slip up.
But things quickly take a turn for the more ghostly and bizarre from the middle of the second act with the gang, along with a television crew, discovering a skeleton and a bunker in the garden of an old house. It is a nice way that Goss ties the house and its history into the lives of the Noble family as it allows for some exploration of the characters. Donna learnt piano here, even if Sylvia can’t think of anything nice to say about her talent. Indeed, we get a scene where she plays the grand piano and Donna isn’t that bad. For all of Sylvia’s funny lines in this story, it is a nice reminder that she was always hard on Donna.
But it is also not hard to see Sylvia’s point of view in this adventure as she says that people tend to get hurt whenever the Doctor’s around. She does say that he is doing the right thing in the end but its the journey there that’s perilous around Donna’s friend. But Wilf puts it much more eloquently when he describes the Doctor after everything’s popped off. He says that the Doctor is like fire, standing between humanity and the darkness. It’s one of the best speeches from the audio adventures of Doctor Who I’ve ever heard and it’s delivered brilliantly from Bernard Cribbins.
Goss makes sure there are references and nods to different horror movies and the clichés that plague them, including creaking doors and floorboards, drafty corridors and people splitting up. And the nods of shows like Most Haunted are evident from the beginning and while we all know that they make a lot of stuff up, Goss handles talking about those shows, their audiences and their participants with dignity and without offence, when anyone else might not.
It goes without saying that David Tennant is one of the most popular incarnations of the Doctor in the show’s history and rightly so, here, he effortlessly reprises his role as if he never left nearly ten years ago! His chemistry with Catherine Tate is superb too and as a result, this episode really does feel like a missing adventure from the modern series.
Likewise, Catherine Tate does a brilliant job, picking up her role as Donna like she never left in 2008. I’ve always loved Donna and she is one of my favourite companions in all of Doctor Who history so this would have always been a success to me. But with so much character being injected into Donna from Goss, Tate seems to really relish this script, obviously enjoying playing around with the character!
Perhaps the biggest selling point for this story though was the inclusion of Donna’s relatives, Wilf and Sylvia. While we’ve heard from Sylvia in Big Finish before this as she appeared in an episode of Lady Christina, Jaqueline King really shines standing beside her former co-stars. It is clear how much she loved being in the show proper and that love for her character continues here as she gets some great lines and moments for us to enjoy.
Bernard Cribbins has done some audio work with Big Finish before too but this is the first appearance of Wilf since he left in 2010. But like the rest of the cast, it feels like he has never been away. Like Donna, I’ve always loved Wilf and the idea of the Doctor travelling with an older character is something that I’ve enjoyed. We’ve had Evelyn Smythe and Graham to prove this dynamic works and it still does on audio with Cribbins and Tennant easily falling into the Doctor/Companion dynamic. With some great moments and lines, some serious and some extremely funny, Wilf will no doubt enjoy a brand new love from the listeners. Hopefully, there will be further adventures for Sylvia and Wilf soon in the future!
Overall, No Place is a triumphant return for the Tenth Doctor in the Big Finish landscape. As the first adventure in a trilogy, it kicks things off nicely. Goss manages to throw in a number of small references to things that we have seen in Series 4 of the television show, to help ground it into that season of the show and there are fun for die-hard fans to pick out and digest.
Ken Bentley does a great job in the director’s chair here too, keeping things moving along at a real pace and the story is aided by some brilliantly ghostly soundscapes from Howard Carter who manages to give the whole thing a really spooky feel. Well done guys.
With the whole story owing to masterpieces like The Others, The Conjuring, Ghostwatch and Most Haunted, this story was going to be a hit with me as I’m a tremendous fan of horror. But I didn’t know how much I would enjoy it! This is one of those adventures that is not be missed!