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Steven’s Story of Russia, 1812
This is the first of Series 2 of the Companion Chronicles in ‘Doctor Who’ by Big Finish!
‘Mother Russia’ is a lovely ‘Doctor Who’ audio story from the First Doctor era, starring Peter Purves as Steven Taylor, companion of the First Doctor. It’s a two-part story by Marc Platt and is wonderfully read by Peter. I enjoyed the historical atmosphere and the engaging plot throughout these episodes.
I like Steven as a ‘Doctor Who’ companion and have met Peter Purves in real life at conventions. Peter has an engaging reading voice for audio and his impersonation for William Hartnell’s Doctor is spot on. I found it so easy to immerse myself in this story as it is a historical with a sci-fi element in it.
The story begins with Steven being interrogated by the Interrogator. I wondered what was going on as the Interrogator was trying to make Steven remember a certain event that happened to him when he was in Russia, 1812. I was keen to find out what would happen as Steven recalled his story.
‘Mother Russia’ takes place during Steven’s travels in the TARDIS with the Doctor and Dodo, following ‘The Gunfighters’. They find themselves in Russia and are hoping to have a nice holiday during the winter. But this is Russia in 1812. Napoleon and the French are about to invade Moscow.
Marc Platt enjoys doing historical adventures in the First Doctor era and he especially enjoyed this one set in Russia. Marc previously wrote the Companion Chronicle called ‘Frostfire’ with Vicki and that too was an historical adventure. On the strength of that story, Marc wrote this one for Steven.
I must admit I’m not familiar with Russian history in the 19th century or with what Napoleon did at that time. But it was interesting to discover as Steven recalled this tale. The sci-fi element of an alien who changes history with a certain Russian invasion is not very dissimilar to ‘The Time Warrior’ story.
Peter Purves does a fine job reading this audio story. Peter clearly enjoyed doing the historical adventures on TV, so it’s not surprise that he approved of doing this one with an historical aspect to it. He does a fine job capturing the atmosphere of this one as it does feel like an historical on audio.
It was interesting where Steven has scenes with the Interrogator and he gradually unravels things whilst remembering the incident he witnessed in Russia. I enjoyed how Steven tries to relax and make a life for himself in Russia. He makes friends and he becomes a best man at a Russian wedding.
I really like Peter’s impersonation of William Hartnell’s Doctor. He sounds exactly like him, especially when he knew him pretty well during working with him on the TV series. Peter gets the First Doctor’s tones and mannerisms spot on with his voice. You can almost feel the Doctor’s presence in this one.
I also liked how Peter does Dodo’s voice in this audio adventure. He clearly doesn’t do a female voice for Dodo in the audios of ‘Doctor Who’. But I was able to pick up the cheekiness and light-hearted manner of Dodo from watching her in the TV stories. If only Big Finish can get Jackie Lane to return.
Tony Millan guest stars as the mysterious Interrogator. I wondered who this Interrogator was and why Steven resents him so much when being questioned by him. I like the twist in the Interrogator’s character, as it transpires he’s really a ‘shape thief’ after he crash-landed on Earth via his spaceship.
There is a creepiness about Tony Millan’s performance as the Interrogator, especially when he keeps calling Steven ‘monsieur’. It got interesting when the ‘shape thief’ became more than one character and an identity crisis ensues with there being two Doctors in the same room when Napoleon is there
I enjoyed it when Steven was on his own for a while after it seemed like the Doctor and Dodo have abandoned him. I was afraid for Steven’s life as he gets betrayed by the Doctor once he arrives in Moscow with Napoleon. I was relieved when he was saved by Dodo and the real Doctor turning up.
I liked those moments of tension when Steven’s life is at risk. That confrontation between the two Doctors was intense. It was good to have Steven guiding us on who was the real Doctor or not. The clue is in the fake Doctor’s eyes when they’re glittering colours and also when he mistreats Steven.
Napoleon’s appearance in this audio adventure is interesting. I don’t know much about him as an historical figure, but I like how he is written. He’s not clearly defined as a total bad guy in ‘Doctor Who’, but he does have faults and I like how Peter balances the charm and ruthlessness of the man.
The conclusion to this story has Steven in a confrontation with the Interrogator who turns out to be the ‘shape thief’. The Interrogator tries to make Steven forget about. But Steven won’t allow and the Interrogator is soon defeated. In the end, the Doctor, Steven and Dodo leave Russia in the TARDIS.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of this disc, there’s a trailer for ‘Helicon Prime’ with Frazer Hines. There’s also an enjoyable interview with Peter Purves about the making of ‘Mother Russia’. There’s also a brief and enjoyable suite of incidental music from this story. It is very easy to listen to.
‘Mother Russia’ is a lovely Companion Chronicle featuring Peter Purves as Steven Taylor from the First Doctor era. I enjoyed this audio story as it was interesting when Steven recalls an adventure set in Russia, 1812. It was tense when the shape thief causes trouble for Steven in this audio adventure.
‘Mother Russia’ rating – 8/10
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