Grace Knight is a relatively new author for Big Finish and having listened to her Torchwood story, Iceberg not too long ago, I was looking forward to this new Short Trip. And I wasn’t disappointed.
These Stolen Hours, on the surface, is a love story, but from that, we get the undertone of how people don’t know a good thing until it’s gone and how they’ll do anything to get back to the glory days. This is most notably apparent with one of the base’s scientists, who has gone back in time to visit her husband before she met him to comfort him when he felt the loneliest.
That doesn’t sound too harmful, but the Doctor, rightly so, is horrified. Not only could it cause all sorts of paradoxes if the man works out who she will be to him, but it has also allowed for a number of small creatures to infiltrate the base. While this part of the plot, as good as it is, is wrapped up quickly, Knight seems happier to spend time on the Charley part of the story of trying to recapture the glory days.
In the main range, she left the Doctor in a fight, following the death of their friend C’rizz and then found herself stranded on an island with no way to getaway. Somehow she creates a device to call the TARDIS to her, but she is dismayed to find it isn’t ‘her’ Doctor, but an earlier incarnation, this time the Sixth Doctor. Charley is one of those companions who work brilliantly with other Doctors and her time with the Sixth Doctor was as swift as it was fun. Indeed, they deserved more adventures together so it’s nice that Knight has given us this little outing, which sees the action take place between two big adventures for this Doctor/companion.
India Fisher is a great narrator here, taking Knight’s script and adding another layer to it with her soft reading. Having heard many of the Charley audios its been a lot of fun to hear how much Fisher has developed the character and her acting abilities, that’s not to say she’s never been anything other excellent but if you go back and listen to Storm Warning and then this story, you’ll understand the difference. Her Sixth Doctor captures the character of Colin Baker’s performance perfectly and no one expects a perfect impersonation of the Doctor. Just capturing the essence of a particular incarnation is enough to bring that particular Doctor to life, something Fisher does brilliantly.
These Stolen Hours is a great way to spend forty minutes thanks to the brilliant script from Grace Knight, tight direction from Lisa Bowerman and excellent narration from India Fisher. And it poses the question would you do anything to see those you’ve loved and lost again?