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Colditz Castle with the Doctor and Ace
“Nazis! I hate these guys!”, as Indiana Jones would say to Ace.
‘Colditz’ is the fourth Seventh Doctor and Ace audio adventure, starring Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred. It’s a four-part adventure by Steve Lyons. It’s a gripping historical yarn where the Doctor and Ace face the Nazis and try to escape the inescapable prison of Colditz Castle in 1944.
I enjoyed this audio adventure very much, especially as it features a superb guest cast including a future face of the Doctor. Steve Lyons really grips you into this story, especially with the Nazi Germany element. It brought back memories for me when I was studying history back at school.
The Doctor and Ace arrive at Colditz Castle unawares before they get caught. The Doctor gets shot by Feldwebel Kurtz. Ace conspires with British prisoners to make an escape from the castle whilst the Doctor is forced to give up the secrets of his TARDIS to the mysterious Elizabeth Klein.
I must admit, I’m not familiar with Colditz Castle as a historical setting in the story. I did Nazi Germany for history, but never dealt with the place in detail as I did for the July Bomb Plot of 1944. I found it interesting and certainly the tension and drama is found throughout this drama.
Sylvester McCoy delivers a superb performance as the Doctor. He’s not manipulative at first, as he gets coerced to cooperate with Klein and give up the secrets of the TARDIS to her. But as the story progresses, he works out what’s going on and makes his plans to stop changing the future.
I liked how the Doctor is forced to cooperate with Klein when she orders Kurtz to kill Ace right before him. The Doctor is very fond of Ace as he reluctantly agrees to help Klein. The interaction between the Doctor and Klein is very spell-bounding as he finds her an extraordinary opponent.
Sophie Aldred as Ace has a strong outing for her character. This is one of Ace’s best stories as her anti-racist and anti-fascist views come across really well. She clearly hates the Nazis and hates Kurtz who bullies her. Those scenes where Ace defies Kurtz are truly mesmerising indeed.
I liked Ace’s resourcefulness in this tale as she gets to be friends with the British prisoners with the likes of Flying Officer Gower and Tim Wilkins. I liked Ace developing a friendship with Tim, before she accuses him of betraying her to Kurtz and the Nazis when making an escape attempt.
David Tennant appears in this story! That’s right! David Tennant! This story is extra-special featuring an actor who would go on to play the Tenth Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’. This is one of two audios stories that David guest stars in (the other one is ‘Medicinal Purposes’ with Colin Baker).
David guest stars as Feldwebel Kurtz, a Nazi officer at the Colditz Castle prison. Kurtz is a mean person and very cruel to Ace, when he bullies and puts her in her place. I couldn’t believe how nasty David was as Kurtz. I’m sure that David and Sophie got on well with each other really.
This story also features the first appearance of Tracey Childs as Elizabeth Klein. Tracey appeared in the TV episode called ‘The Fires of Pompeii’. Klein is a character that Tracey is well-known for in ‘Doctor Who’ circles, as she goes on to be a companion for the Seventh Doctor in later stories.
Klein is a scientist who worked for the German Third Reich where the Nazis won World War II in an alternative timeline. She travels back in time to acquire the Doctor and his TARDIS for study. The Doctor however is determined not to let her force him to change the history of the future.
The story also guest stars Nicholas Young as Flying Officer Bill Gower. Gower is the main British prisoner at Colditz Castle who gets on well with Ace. He helps to discuss a plan of escape. Gower seems to have some influence with the guards, but to what extent will that influence take him?
The remaining guest stars are Toby Longworth as Hauptmann Julius Schäfer, the leading Nazi at Colditz Castle; and Peter Rae as Timothy Wilkins, one of the British prisoners that Ace befriends.
At the end of the story, the Doctor and Ace escape in the TARDIS before Kurtz tries to get in and is halfway through the doors. The TARDIS dematerialises and Kurtz is killed as his body is split in half by the time vortex. This shocks and horrifies Ace, as it is a very shocking, horrifying moment.
This is a turning point in Ace’s character as after seeing the horrifying death of Kurtz, she decides not to be called Ace anymore. Instead she refers to herself as Dorothy McShane or simply ‘McShane’. I did wonder how and where the story would go next for Ace in ‘Doctor Who’.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 2, there’s a trailer for the next ‘Doctor Who’ audio called ‘The One Doctor’ with Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor and Bonnie Langford as Mel.
‘Colditz’ is a very gripping and enjoyable audio adventure with the Seventh Doctor and Ace. I enjoyed listening to this audio, especially with the special appearances of David Tennant as Kurtz and Tracey Childs as Klein. This is highly recommended and one of the best by Big Finish.
‘Colditz’ rating – 9/10
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