‘A DEATH IN THE FAMILY’
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Nobody No-One Returns and the Doctor Dies
This is a terrifyingly good audio drama with the Doctor, Ace and Hex!
‘A Death in the Family’ is a pretty strong character-driven story of the Seventh Doctor era. I enjoyed listening to this one. It’s pretty complicated to listen to and you do have to keep alert, but I enjoyed the character journeys of Ace and Hex in this one as they come to terms with the Doctor being dead.
This is a four-part story by Steven Hall and is a sequel to his one-episode story ‘The Word Lord’ from ‘Forty-Five’. It features the return of Nobody No-One, the Word Lord (now played by Ian Reddington) and the story features the return of Maggie Stables as Evelyn, former companion to the Sixth Doctor.
This story follows on directly from the end of ‘Project: Destiny’. Hex has fallen out with the Doctor after learning the truth about his mother in connection to the Forge. The Doctor and Ace also learn that a sarcophagus that contains a Time Lord is kept within the Forge and they go off to investigate.
When they find this sarcophagus, the Doctor and Ace discover who’s inside. It is the Doctor! And he’s dead! It’s a matter of time before the Doctor and Ace realise that Nobody No-One, the Word Lord, has returned to cause havoc. Stopping Nobody No-One means the death of someone in the family.
I really liked how Steven Hall constructs this four-part adventure with the Doctor, Ace and Hex in it. Some of the story is pretty complex to listen to, but each of the four episodes stand out on their own as they each have different stories to tell. They all connect and grip you into the emotional dramas.
The first episode has Hex coming to terms with the fact the Doctor lied to him for not telling him about his mother. Hex soon comes across someone who turns out to be Nobody No-One and he’s changed his appearance. Nobody is soon about to cause havoc and he starts with killing the Doctor.
Ian Reddington delivers a chilling performance as Nobody No-One. Ian appeared in ‘Doctor Who’ before on TV with the Doctor and Ace in ‘The Greatest Show in the Galaxy’ and is very well-known in ‘Coronation Street’. Ian nails the villainous character of Nobody so spot on and with manic precision.
Nobody No-One is someone from another dimension that exists through words. When somebody says “nobody has the power to do that”, Nobody is given that power and he uses it to hurt people with chilling glee. See how many times I’ve said ‘nobody’ in this review. Oh dear! I’m in trouble now!
The first episode ends with a shocking cliff-hanger. The Doctor manages to defeat Nobody No-One with his super technology. But as a result, it costs him his life and he ends up dead. This was a shock to listen to when Hex told Ace that the Doctor was dead. And when I say he’s dead, he really is dead!
But by the second episode, an older Seventh Doctor appears to Ace and Hex and takes them away to live in different places and times to have their own lives. This gives Ace and Hex the chance to have their own episodes with Hex having ‘Part Two’ to himself and with Ace having ‘Part Three’ to herself.
Phillip Oliver as Hex is brilliant. I really liked how Hex is developed in this story, since he gets to have a life on another world called Pelachan. Hex comes to terms with the fact the Doctor’s dead, as he’s welcomed and looked after by Evelyn and he begins to fall in love with Alison Thea-Skot as Ayl-San.
This story guest stars Maggie Stables as Evelyn Rossiter (nee Smythe), who was a companion to the Sixth Doctor. It was nice to have Evelyn appear in this story. This is set after Evelyn ended her travels with the Doctor, since she is now a widow and is living her life on Pelachan with Aly-San as her ward.
I really liked those scenes where Hex and Evelyn meet and get to know each other. Evelyn is linked to Hex, since she knew his mother Cassie from ‘Project: Twilight’ and ‘Project: Lazarus’. Evelyn is able to tell Hex what had happened to her mother when she and the Doctor met her all those years ago.
The third episode has Ace ending up back in Shoreditch, London in the 21st century. Sophie Aldred is lovely as Ace. Unlike Hex, Ace is not willing to give up and can’t accept the fact the Doctor is dead for good. I liked the life Ace tries to make for herself, as she tries to find a way to bring the Doctor back.
Ace falls in love with John Dorney as Henry Noone who she meets at the Rabbit pub. Henry becomes an important person in Ace’s life, since he inadvertently helps her to find a way to bring back the Doctor. This is where Ace gets to be really clever and proactive, compared to her usual gun-ho self.
In the end, the Doctor is brought back to life. Sylvester McCoy delivers a super performance as the Doctor. He is pretty absent for most of the story, since he had died fighting Nobody No-One. But even in death, the Doctor is still so cunning with his companions to help him and he cheats his death.
I like the last scenes where the Doctor meets Evelyn. Evelyn clearly misses her Sixth Doctor, but she’s glad to meet this Seventh Doctor who she knows already. The scenes where they have a cup of tea; talk of old times and forgive each other over harsh words are really touching and moving to listen to.
Then Nobody No-One appears and becomes terrifying when the Doctor and Evelyn confront him. Nobody threatens to kill everyone and gets to do it, believing that he has. The Doctor and Evelyn however manage to outwit Nobody. But in killing Nobody, Evelyn dies too and it is so heart-breaking.
It is sad that Evelyn dies in this story. But Evelyn has lived a good life and has had many adventures in ‘Doctor Who’. It’s even sad that Maggie Stables is no longer with us, as I would have liked to meet her and to talk with her about Evelyn. The story ends on a note of memorial and in tribute of Evelyn.
‘A Death in the Family’ is a really good audio drama with the Doctor, Ace and Hex facing Nobody No-One and featuring Evelyn in it. This is a great character-driven story throughout. I wonder where the Doctor, Ace and Hex will go next, as this story continues for them in their travels in time and space.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there is a suite of incidental music to enjoy. At the end of Disc 2, there is a behind-the-scenes interview with writer Steven Hall, conducted by John Dorney. I’m so surprised there weren’t any interviews with Sylvester, Sophie and Phillip on this story.
If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘A Death in the Family’ via a 6 or 12 CD/Download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There is a PDF script and extended extras of ‘A Death in the Family’.
There’s also a trailer for the next story with the Doctor, Ace and Hex called ‘Lurkers At Sunlight’s Edge’.
‘A Death in the Family’ rating – 9/10
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