‘THE GHOST OF N-SPACE’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
N-Space with the Third Doctor, Sarah Jane and the Brigadier
This is the second radio drama to be made with the Third Doctor! ‘The Ghosts of N-Space’ is a six-part adventure by Barry Letts and it stars Jon Pertwee as the Doctor, Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith and Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier. I enjoyed listening to this strange, surreal adventure!
‘The Ghosts of N-Space’ was made after the success of ‘The Paradise of Death’ in 1993. It was made in 1996, three years later. These two radio dramas are what the Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’ could have been like, had Jon Pertwee survived beyond his death that same year this was produced.
I’m still disappointed that they used the 1980s Peter Howell theme music for this radio drama as well as ‘The Paradise of Death’. It’s the wrong theme music for that era, although I’m glad that all six episodes of ‘The Ghosts of N-Space’ have been spread across a 3-disc set which feels right somehow.
Barry Letts was the producer of ‘Doctor Who’ in the early 1970s for Jon Pertwee’s era of the show. Because of this, Barry knows the Doctor, Sarah Jane and the Brigadier inside out and writes them well in these radio dramas. Jon Pertwee, Lis Sladen and Nick Courtney bring those characters to life.
Saying that, I don’t think ‘The Ghosts of N-Space’ has been good as ‘The Paradise of Death’. I’m not saying the story is bad. I just found it lack something and it didn’t have the same energy that ‘The Paradise of Death’ had. Also most of it was very complex and surreal to understand and follow here.
‘The Ghosts of N-Space’ has the Brigadier visiting his uncle at his castle in Sicily. I’m surprised that the Brigadier has an uncle. The Brigadier summons the Doctor to Sicily to help as strange goings-on are happening where he is. Sarah Jane comes along too and also her photographer Jeremy Fitzoliver.
Once there in Sicily, the Doctor, Sarah Jane, the Brig and Jeremy see some ghostly-like being appear in the place. These are ghostly beings from N-Space and the Doctor is determined to find out why they’re here. This will lead to the Doctor and Sarah Jane having to travel back in time in the TARDIS.
I was fascinated by the concepts in this story, especially with the story being called ‘The Ghosts of N-Space’. Beforehand, I thought N-Space was the name given to our universe to distinguish it from E-Space. But it turns out there’s more to it than that as N-Space is really the ‘null-space’ for the ghosts.
In terms of where this story takes place in the Third Doctor’s timeline, it takes some time long after ‘The Paradise of Death’. ‘The Ghosts of N-Space’ takes place between ‘Death to the Daleks’ and ‘The Monsters of Peladon’. Sarah Jane has had a fair amount of adventures since ‘The Paradise of Death’.
Jon Pertwee is very good as the Doctor in this radio drama. I like Jon’s enthusiasm as the Doctor through these radio dramas and it’s a testament that he did these before his death in 1996. The Doctor gets to do plenty with being the action hero as well as the inquisitive scientist with N-Space.
In the story, the Doctor takes Sarah Jane with him on a journey back in time to a number of time zones away from the 1970s. They visit two period settings and the Doctor and Sarah Jane get to dress up in period clothes. I do like how Jon’s Doctor becomes heroic as he fights against Maximilian.
Elisabeth Sladen is lovely as Sarah Jane Smith. She’s pretty plucky in this story, although it’s interesting how at the beginning she starts off giving up journalism and decides to do writing instead. Will the events of this story change Sarah Jane’s mind when she’s travelling with the Doctor.
I like the scenes that Sarah Jane shares with the Doctor in this radio adventure, as they spend a lot of time together compared to ‘The Paradise of Death’. Sarah Jane also forms a close bond with Louisa when they visit her period and she and the Doctor have philosophical debates whilst in the TARDIS.
Nicholas Courtney is equally good as the Brigadier in this adventure. It was interesting to hear how the Brigadier coped without his U.N.I.T. forces and relies on people like his Uncle Mario and Jeremy Fitzoliver to tackle with the menaces of the ghosts. The Brigadier gets to be very military in this one.
I like how the Brigadier coordinates things whilst the Doctor and Sarah Jane are away and sometimes his Uncle Mario and Jeremy get on his nerves. It’s unusual that the Brigadier didn’t get to go with the Doctor and Sarah Jane in the TARDIS, since he was a travelling companion in ‘The Paradise of Death’.
Richard Pearce returns as Jeremy Fitzoliver, Sarah Jane’s hopeless photographer. Jeremy made his first appearance in ‘Doctor Who’ in ‘The Paradise of Death’. In that, he tended to be pretty annoying and very clumsy throughout. It’s been stated that there’s no sign of improvement for him in this tale.
However, I would disagree slightly on that point since Jeremy does get to have his moments in the story. I liked it when he feels dejected about being left behind by Sarah Jane and he gets to do some investigating of his own. I liked his scenes with Maggie and he gets to help the Brigadier a lot in this.
Stephen Thorne guest stars as Max Vilmio or Maximilian in this adventure. Stephen Thorne is well-known to ‘Doctor Who’ fans for playing many villains like Azal in ‘The Dæmons’ and Omega in ‘The Three Doctors’. He also, for me, played Treebeard in the radio series of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ too.
In ‘The Ghosts of N-Space’, Stephen plays a mobster called Max Vilmio, who is keen to stop the Doctor and his friends in unravelled the ‘ghosts’ mystery in Sicily. When the Doctor and Sarah Jane travel back in time, they find out that he’s Maximilian, who’s hell-bent on taking control of N-Space.
Sandra Dickinson guest stars as Maggie in this radio adventure. Sandra Dickinson was at one-time married to Peter Davison who played the Fifth Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’. Sandra has also played Trillian in the TV version of ‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. It was nice to hear Sandra in this.
In this story, Maggie is a seemingly dumb-blonde who joins Max Vilmio on his trips to Sicily. She turns out to be a nice character as she helps Jeremy to escape after he was brutally interrogated by Max. I did find Sandra’s voice as Maggie a little grating, since it is high-pitched and tended to be silly.
Harry Towb guest stars as Mario, the Brigadier’s uncle in this adventure. It was nice to hear one of the Brigadier’s relations make an appearance in this story. It was unusual that the Brigadier should have one who is an Italian, compared to him since he’s a Scot as confirmed in ‘Terror of the Zygons’.
Mario did tend to be rather too eager to get into the action of things when sorting out the ghosts at his castle and using a gun, which got on the Brigadier’s nerves. But Mario is very pleasant and hospitable, especially as he does treats the Doctor, Sarah Jane and Jeremy upon their arrival in Sicily.
Deborah Berlin guest stars as Louisa, a girl that Sarah Jane meets and forms a close connection to on her travels with the Doctor back in time in the TARDIS. Louisa first appears to be Sarah Jane as the white lady and gradually Sarah Jane puts the pieces of the jigsaw together when finding who she is.
‘The Ghosts of N-Space’ has been an enjoyable radio drama to listen to with Jon Pertwee, Elisabeth Sladen and Nicholas Courtney starring in it. It’s not as good as ‘The Paradise of Death’, but it is a pleasant addition to the Third Doctor adventure and it would have been nice to hear more of these.
‘The Ghosts of N-Space’ rating – 7/10
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