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The Doctor reunites with Elizabeth Klein with Will Arrowsmith
‘Persuasion’ is the title of one of Jane Austen’s novels.
It is also the title of this four-part ‘Doctor Who’ audio story by Jonathan Barnes. This is the first of a trilogy of stories starring Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor with Tracey Childs as Elizabeth Klein. If you’re not familiar with the previous Klein stories, then I suggest you listen to those before this one.
The Doctor comes back into Klein’s life once again, where she is the scientific advisor to U.N.I.T. Klein re-joins the Doctor in the TARDIS. But they’re not alone as they’re now joined by Klein’s assistant, Will Arrowsmith. This new trio embarks on a journey to find Kurt Schalk and his Persuasion machine.
Klein made her first appearance in ‘Doctor Who’ before in ‘Colditz’. Since then, she had adventures with the Doctor including ‘A Thousand Tiny Wings’; ‘Klein’s Story’; ‘Survival of the Fittest’ and ‘The Architects of History’. She last met the Doctor with Raine Creevy in the epic tale ‘U.N.I.T.: Dominion’.
It was interesting to hear Klein again for this new trilogy of Seventh Doctor audios, as he’s still keeping watch on her and needs her for these adventures. She wonders why Raine isn’t with the Doctor now, but it turns out she isn’t travelling with him anymore by this point which was intriguing.
This story of course takes place towards the end of the Seventh Doctor’s life before he regenerates in ‘The TV Movie’. It was interesting how Jonathan Barnes interprets Sylvester’s Doctor by this point as he’s planning to make things easier for his eighth self, knowing he won’t be manipulative as he is.
Jonathan Barnes has written for ‘Doctor Who’ before, since he wrote ‘The Interplanetarian’ story for ‘1001 Nights’ with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa. I enjoyed that story very much and it was well-written. But I’m afraid I found this four-part story by him for the Seventh Doctor and Klein very disappointing.
Not meaning to disrespect Jon Barnes’ writing; but I found this story a struggle to listen to. It has a good start with the Doctor reuniting with Klein and meeting Will Arrowsmith. But I did get lost in the plot sometimes and this wasn’t exciting enough with regards to Schalk and the Persuasion machine.
Also the first three episodes begin with prologues and the fourth episodes ends with an epilogue featuring the Shepherd and Shepherdess. I couldn’t really follow these sequences and I didn’t understand the point of them. When listening to the Doctor, Klein and Will, it was easier to listen to.
This story takes us to three distinct places for the audio adventure with the Doctor, Klein and Will. The story starts in London, where Klein and Will discover the Doctor. When they join the Doctor in the TARDIS, they head off for Dusseldorf, Germany and for an island in Greece, 1945 to find Schalk.
Sylvester McCoy delivers a sensational performance as the Doctor. It is interesting how he continues to be manipulative, even towards the end of his life. He has some interesting scenes with Klein and seems to like Will. He gets to outwit the Shepherd and Shepherdess when he becomes two Doctors.
Tracey Childs is great to listen to as Elizabeth Klein. Klein was once a Nazi before her timeline was changed by the Doctor. She still doesn’t trust the Doctor and suspects he’s not telling her the truth. She tolerates Will’s persistent inquisitiveness and it was interesting she returns to Germany in 1945.
Christian Edwards makes his first appearance as Will Arrowsmith, Klein’s assistant. Will is an interesting character who seems a bit of a nerd and wants to impress Klein. He tends to be annoying when he’s recording on his Dictaphone, but he’s loyal and has admirable qualities when helping out.
This story guest stars David Sibley as Kurt Schalk, a German scientist that the Doctor, Klein and Will try to find. David Sibley also appeared as Pralix in the ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘The Pirate Planet’ with Tom Baker. Schalk is so significant to this story and the trilogy as he created the Persuasion machine.
There’s also Jonathan Forbes as Lukas Hinterberger. He’s a Nazi that the Doctor, Klein and Will meet in Dusseldorf, Germany. Jon Forbes has also done a number of ‘Doctor Who’ audios before with Big Finish. Lukas turns out to be a friend of Schalk and he seems to recognise Klein as someone he knew.
There’s also the Shepherd and the Shepherdess (played by Paul Chahidi and Miranda Raison), who come from another dimension looking Schalk and his Persuasion machine. Miranda has appeared in ‘Doctor Who’ before both in TV and audio and has played Constance, companion to the Sixth Doctor.
The Shepherd and Shepherdess are rather strange beings that speak in a Shakespearean language (iambic pentameter) and kill those who they think are insignificant. I don’t really understand these creatures and I found them a struggle to listen to, especially in those prologue and epilogue scenes.
There was a moment in the story that I found mind-boggling and amazing to listen to. The Doctor tricks the Shepherd and Shepherdess as he materialises his TARDIS around their world in space. This was quite astonishing to imagine – the TARDIS around a whole planet. That is incredible to conceive!
I was unhappy with the ending of this story. I felt unsatisfied since I didn’t grasp the whole plot and there were questions still left unanswered. But of course this story is the beginning of a linked trilogy as the Doctor; Klein and Will head off into the TARDIS to continue looking for Schalk, wherever he is.
‘Persuasion’ is a very average tale and not the best I’ve listened to with the Seventh Doctor. It starts the trilogy off and reintroduces the Doctor and Klein with Will very well. But I found it a struggle to listen to this and I could not grab the entire plot. I hope I’ll enjoy the next two stories for this trilogy.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there’s a suite of incidental music. At the end of Disc 2, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with cast and crew. These include Sylvester McCoy; Tracey Childs; Christian Edwards; writer Jonathan Barnes and executive producer Nicholas Briggs.
If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘Persuasion’ via a 6 or 12 CD/Download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There is a PDF script and extended extras of ‘Persuasion’.
There’s a trailer for the next story with the Doctor, Klein and Will called ‘Starlight Robbery’.
‘Persuasion’ rating – 5/10
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