‘THE CHURCH AND THE CROWN’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
17th Century Paris with the Doctor, Peri and Erimem
This is a fun, pure historical adventure with the Doctor, Peri and Erimem.
I’ve enjoyed listening to ‘The Church and the Crown’. It’s a light-hearted ‘Doctor Who’ audio adventure where the Doctor, by accident, takes Peri and Erimem to Paris in 1626. There they meet King Louis and Queen Anne. It is also an intriguing tale of a conflict between the king and the church.
‘The Church and the Crown’ is the second story in the series of adventures with the Fifth Doctor, Peri and Erimem, which previously started with ‘The Eye of the Scorpion’. Erimem is an Egyptian Pharaoh who joined the TARDIS team with a pet cat at the end of that story, much to the Doctor’s reluctance.
This four-part audio adventure is by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright, who I believe make their first contribution to the Fifth Doctor era. They deliver a witty tale that’s echoes ‘The Three Musketeers’ and is also influenced with Dennis Spooner-style humour and a ‘Black Orchid’ doppelganger element.
The Doctor, Peri and Erimem arrive in Paris 1626 to enjoy themselves. But they soon get caught up in political intrigue, as the king intends to hold a ball for his queen and a cardinal is against the king’s policies during his reign. Very soon, there’ll be an English invasion about to take place on French soil.
I found this audio adventure very easy and engaging to listen to. It was a refreshing change to listen to a fun-filled adventure compared to the usual bombastic nature of Peter Davison stories in ‘Doctor Who’. It isn’t the best story by any means, but I enjoyed the addition of humour by Cavan and Mark.
Peter Davison is very good as the Doctor in this adventure. I like how he interacts with the historical characters in this. He seems reluctant to allow Erimem as his companion, which is intriguing. There’s a reverse to Peter’s Doctor in this, as he intends on changing history unlike William Hartnell’s Doctor.
Nicola Bryant gets to play two characters in this audio adventure. Not only does she play Peri in this, but she also plays Queen Anne of Austria. This gives Nicola a chance to do what Sarah Sutton did in ‘Black Orchid’. I enjoyed Nicola’s performance as she plays both Peri and Queen Anne superbly well.
I like how Nicola plays Peri with being captured (when she’s mistaken for Queen Anne) and when she escapes and attracts the attention of the Musketeers, as she tries to find the Doctor. Nicola gets to use her British voice as Queen Anne and also portrays Anne’s bitterness to her husband (the king).
Like ‘Black Orchid’, it never gets explained as to why Peri and Queen Anne look so uncannily similar, which I found interesting. Maybe there’s a connection between the two stories ‘Black Orchid’ and ‘The Church and the Crown’. After all, both Queen Anne and Ann Talbot have similar names (sort of).
Caroline Morris as Erimem is really good in this adventure too. I’m getting to know Erimem through these Big Finish audio adventures and I like the friendship she forms with Peri. Her wonder at being in Paris 1626 compared to Egypt gets played upon pretty well, as well as her warrior skills in a battle.
I did like how Erimem gets to be resourceful in this audio adventure. She likes being a princess when she’s in Paris 1626 and gets to call the Doctor her Vizier. It was interesting how her royal views from Ancient Egypt compare to Paris 1626, especially when King Louis and Queen Anne are arguing in this.
This audio adventure features a superb guest cast in it. There’s Andrew MacKay as King Louis XIII, Queen Anne’s husband. From this audio adventure, it’s clear that Louis is a pretty selfish character who insists that her wife attends the ball. There’s also this bitter feud between him and the cardinal.
There’s Michael Shallard as the cardinal himself named Richelieu. Richelieu appears as a mysterious character at first, since it’s not clear what his true motives are. He’s clearly against the king and he’s religiously in favour of the church. Richelieu tries to win his way to Queen Anne and talk to the king.
There’s also Marcus Hutton as the English Duke of Buckingham that comes to Paris in 1626. He’s another character with mysterious motives. The Duke may turn out to be the villain of this story. He’s clearly selfish; has his own agenda; and he may/may not be having this affair with Queen Anne.
The guest cast also includes two musketeers in this audio story. There’s Andy Coleman as Rouffet and Peter John as Delmarre. There’s also Robert Curbishley as Captain Morand and Wendy Albiston as Duchesse de Chevreuse (a lady-in-waiting). Do these characters have mysterious motives as well?
The story ends with the Doctor, Peri and Erimem returning to the TARDIS. The Doctor comes to accept Erimem as his companion and allows her to continue travelling with him and Peri in the TARDIS. I liked how the Doctor soon comes to like Erimem and have her and Peri as his companions.
There are sadly no CD extras or trailers featured at the end of ‘The Church and the Crown’. This is unusual, as most Big Finish audio CDs in those days featured ‘coming soon’ trailers for new releases.
‘The Church and the Crown’ has been a worthwhile trip. I’ve enjoyed this ‘Doctor Who’ audio story in Paris 1626 and how the Doctor, Peri and Erimem were written by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright. I was looking forward to hearing more adventures with this TARDIS trio and on how they developed.
‘The Church and the Crown’ rating – 9/10
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