When I first started listening to Big Finish, one of the earliest audios I heard was Steve Lyons’ Son of the Dragon, a Fifth Doctor, Peri and Erimem story that saw them arrive at the time where Vlad the Impaler was, well, impaling people. But it quickly became one of my favourite Doctor Who stories ever and since then, probably back in 2012 when I started getting into Big Finish properly, I’ve loved almost all of the Fifth Doctor stories from this era, though the less said about Nekromanteia the better!
As a result, I’ve always looked forward to the Fifth Doctor and Peri stories, something that doesn’t really happen very much anymore, probably because there are only two on-screen adventures with the pair. Luckily for us, The Meaning of Red is another excellent entry into their time together.
When the TARDIS leaves Peri behind on a strange planet following an earthquake, she finds that she has to cope on her own and become the Doctor to solve the mystery surrounding Calleto, until the Doctor can return for her. Author Rod Brown, a newcomer to Big Finish, handles the story with ease, in some places, the environmental elements are a little forced but handled nowhere near as bad as they were in Orphan 55, and it does actually add to the story. But those issues and elements he is talking about are handled nicely and it never feels like a lecture as Peri has to become a detective to solve the mystery.
At 45 minutes, its one of the longer Short-Trips of the range but it never feels like it drags, thanks to Brown’s script and the tight direction from Helen Goldwyn who always seems to know how to get the best from everyone she works with.
Brown’s script is a brilliant piece though, for the character of Peri, and actress and narrator, Nicola Bryant takes the script and runs with it, easily making the 45-minute runtime feel a lot shorter. One might feel like her changing between accents from Peri’s American one to everyone else’s English could be a little distracting, but it doesn’t happen enough to really be noticeable. Brown’s script really shows the character of Peri growing up and that is something we can sense from Bryant’s performance here. It’s a nice thing to hear, especially if you have only just joined the adventures of the Sixth Doctor and Peri, where she is a little older and much more mature, this might be a good listen to get used to that.
The Meaning of Red is a sterling debut script for Rod Brown, with elements of environmental dangers as well as the meaning of remembrance, one wonders why, given the final line, this wasn’t released a little closer towards Remembrance Sunday, however its a thought-provoking piece which Nicola Bryant delivers with excellence. This is certainly worth the £2.99 price tag!