‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’ (Audio)

‘DONNA NOBLE: KIDNAPPED!’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Donna’s Adventures with Nat

Can Donna Noble cope without the Doctor for a change?

After enjoying ‘Rose Tyler: The Dimension Cannon’, I was looking forward to checking out the next spin-off CD box set featuring a new series companion in ‘Doctor Who’. That is of course Catherine Tate as Donna Noble as she stars in own CD box set called ‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’ It’s so exciting!

In many respects, Donna is one of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companions as well as Nyssa, Zoe, Sarah Jane and Rose. Series 4 of new ‘Doctor Who’ with David Tennant and Catherine Tate is one of my favourite seasons. Getting the chance to hear some Tenth Doctor/Donna audios is so irresistible.

I’ve written my own ‘Doctor Who’ stories featuring Donna Noble, including ‘The Vexo Knights Experience’, ‘The Five Doctors at Christmas: The Tenth Doctor’s Story’, ‘The Popiz’ and a story in the ‘Zorbius’ series. I have my own perception of who Donna is as a character from seeing the TV series.

So, it was going to be fascinating for me to discover how other writers in ‘Doctor Who’ via Big Finish provide their own take on Donna as a character through this spin-off. It was also exciting for me to hear Catherine Tate, Jacqueline King, Niky Wardley and a ‘special appearance’ by David Tennant in it.

‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’ is a 5-disc CD box set. There are four episodes on each of the first four discs and there’s a behind-the-scenes documentary on Disc 5. The four episodes are ‘Out of this World’, ‘Spinvasion’, ‘The Sorcerer of Albion’ and ‘The Chiswick Cuckoos’. All are by different writers.

Incidentally, ‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’ takes place between ‘Forest of the Dead’ and ‘Midnight’ from Donna’s point of view. There’s also a prequel scene with Catherine Tate as Donna Noble and Jacqueline King as Sylvia, which isn’t in the box set. You can check the prequel scene out via this link.


Anthony Howell, Jacqueline King, Isla Blair, Niky Wardley and Dan Starkey in ‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’

1. ‘OUT OF THIS WORLD’

The first episode of this box set, ‘Out of this World’, is by Jacqueline Rayner. Sometimes Jacqueline’s stories can be hit or miss for me in ‘Doctor Who’, but I did enjoy her take on Donna in this episode. 🙂

In the story, Donna returns home after her ordeal in the Library two-parter. She’s upset, having lost her imaginary husband Lee. As the Doctor decided to give her break, Donna spends time with family.

Sadly, Donna doesn’t get much peace at home with her mum Sylvia nagging at her all the time. Her granddad Wilfred has gone too with the Silver Cloak somewhere. So, not much of a break for Donna!

Eventually, Sylvia has Donna meet up with an old school friend of hers – Natalie Morrison. She also has Donna involved with a speed-dating event. It’s something Donna isn’t entirely happy with here.

Donna is glad to meet up with Nat. As they get reacquainted during this speed-dating thing, a mysterious stranger dogs their steps. Donna wonders if it’s the Doctor who’s keeping tabs on her. 😐

It’s great to hear this audio set with Catherine Tate back as Donna Noble. I’ve heard Donna on audio before in previous ‘Tenth Doctor Adventures’ by Big Finish. She’s got it all there with no-nonsense. 🙂

I like how Jacqueline Rayner writes for Donna, making her suspicious around other people. She gets the rough aspects to Donna spot-on. It’s also very intriguing how Donna investigates a mystery here.

And this is when the Doctor’s not around. I like how Donna has her scenes with her mum Sylvia and how they don’t see eye-to-eye on the Doctor. They also talk about the death of dear Geoff Noble. 😦

Having read the book and heard the audio version of ‘Beautiful Chaos’, it is nice how the domestic aspects of Donna Noble’s family life get reflected here. Catherine Tate shines throughout this series!

Jacqueline King is back as Sylvia Noble. I can assure you, Jacqueline King is not as mean and snooty as Sylvia is in ‘Doctor Who’. I’ve met Jacqueline at conventions e.g. the London one in March 2019. 🙂

She’s a nice lady and she complimented me about the daffodil I wore in London. 😀 I’ve also had the pleasure of hearing Sylvia in other audios like ‘No Place’ and the ‘Lady Christina’ episode ‘Skin Deep’.

It was fascinating to hear Sylvia’s interaction with Donna here and how she tries to dissuade her having more associations with the Doctor. She still doesn’t know what Donna does with the Doctor.

Niky Wardley stars as Nat in ‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’ Before this spin-off series, Niky Wardley was in the Tenth Doctor audio adventure called ‘Technophobia’ where she had played the character Bex.

I’m surprised Niky Wardley didn’t play that same character from ‘Technophobia’ in this spin-off series. It’s very intriguing how Nat ends up being a sort-of companion for Donna during this spin-off.

The rest of this episode’s cast are as follows. There’s Isla Blair, who’s been in the ‘Doctor Who’ stories ‘The King’s Demons’ and ‘Exotron’, as Marge. Marge runs the speed-dating event in this tale.

There’s Anthony Howell as Adrian, who ends up being Donna’s date in the story. Anthony Howell has done plenty of ‘Doctor Who’ Big Finish audios over the years and it was great to hear him in this tale.

Dan Starkey guest stars in this episode as Dennis, who ends up being Nat’s date in the story, even though she’s already married. 😮 Dan Starkey is well-known for playing Sontarans in ‘Doctor Who’. 🙂

It was a surprise when the story unveiled who the true villains were. There were quite a number of twists and turns, especially once Donna had a face-off with Adrian, who wasn’t what he appeared. 😐

It was also a shock when Marge didn’t turn out as she appeared in the episode. Soon, Donna and Nat get ‘kidnapped’ and are taken on board a spaceship run by Marge where the TARDIS has been taken.

Nat is pretty much out of her depth when she finds she’s aboard a spaceship and seeing aliens. Donna soon announces to Marge that the TARDIS is really her own ship and that she…is the Doctor!

There’s Donna doing what Clara did in ‘Death In Heaven’, isn’t it? 😀 Overall, ‘Out of this World’ is a good start to ‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’ I wonder what will happen to Donna and Nat next episode!

‘Out of this World’ rating – 9/10


Niky Wardley, Phil Cornwell, Nisha Nayar, Tim Bentinck and Dan Starkey in ‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’

2. ‘SPINVASION’

The second episode of ‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’ is ‘Spinvasion’ by John Dorney. John Dorney has written plenty of ‘Doctor Who’ audios over the years and it’s nice to hear his take on Donna in this. 🙂

I must admit, I’m surprised we didn’t have a follow-up scene where Donna declared to Isla Blair’s Marge that she was the Doctor at the end of the previous episode. Disappointed we didn’t have it! 😦

Instead, we have Donna and Nat in the TARDIS with Dan Starkey as Collector Nine forcing them to show him how to pilot the TARDIS. Luckily, Donna manages to pilot the TARDIS and it soon takes off.

They eventually crash-land on the alien world of Valdacki. Collector Nine attempts to make his invasion plans clear to the people of Valdacki. But a successful invasion’s already underway in this. 😐

After Collector Nine gets bumped off by the people of Valdacki, Donna and Nat find themselves embroiled in the business aspects of a planetary invasion. And it involves the very best PR person. 😀

I must admit, I did find this episode a bit underwhelming. This is a shame because, for the most part, John Dorney has written some excellent ‘Doctor Who’ tales. I can’t think he’d write an average story.

I mean, the concept behind the episode is interesting. Its how a business group tries to do a planetary invasion successfully with good marketing skills! And how to get good people to be slaves.

I suppose in many respects, ‘Spinvasion’ is a comedy episode about a planetary invasion. I would’ve appreciated it if I was fully invested with the story’s plot. Sadly, I found it a bit of struggle to listen to.

Catherine Tate still excels as Donna Noble in this episode. I like how she takes on the Doctor role whilst the Doctor’s not around. Her TARDIS piloting skills from ‘The Sontaran Stratagem’ paid well. 🙂

I also like how Donna and Nat team up to sort out the invasion of Valdacki. It was fascinating to hear how Donna shares her experiences of travelling in the TARDIS with Nat who’s quite out of her depth.

Speaking of which, Niky Wardley is equally good as Nat. Nat ends up being Donna’s companion in this ‘Kidnapped!’ story. It’s ironic since Niky played Tamsin, who was the Eighth Doctor’s companion.

Nat ends up getting separated from Donna and ends up being a PR with the team who are trying to take over the Valdacki planet. She’s shocked by the invaders’ tactics of bumping off people to death.

The story’s guest stars also include Phil Cornwell as Parsnip. Phil Cornwell is no stranger to ‘Doctor Who’, having appeared in the episode ‘The Fires of Pompeii’ and was in ‘Serpent In The Silver Mask’.

Parsnip is a rather vain person, who works closely with his boss Ganthak. He’s surprised by Nat’s horror of their invasion plans to take over Valdacki. He even threatens to drop her from a high place.

Nisha Nayar guest stars as Coleridge, a spokeswoman against the invaders’ plans. Nisha Nayar is also no stranger to ‘Doctor Who’ since she was in the two-part tale ‘Bad Wolf’/’The Parting of the Ways’.

I like how Donna meets up with Coleridge and tries to get her help in order to stop the invaders from their plans to take over Valdacki. Donna and Coleridge use a successful marketing plot in this story. 🙂

Tim Bentinck guest stars as Ganthak, who is like the main villain of the story. Tim Bentinck has done plenty of Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’ including ‘The Contingency Club’ and ‘Kingdom of Lies’. 🙂

It was interesting and quite amusing to hear Ganthak in scenes with Parsnip as they make their adverts. Tim Bentick’s voice for Ganthak sounds very silly and posh-sounding like an upper-class twit.

Actors like Dan Starkey and Tim Bentinck play other parts in the episode including workers who seem happy to work for the invaders. When another offer by Donna comes, they become impressed.

The episode ends with Valdacki saved. Donna and Nat return to the TARDIS so that they can return to Earth. Donna even says “Allons-y!” as she presses the take-off lever. Hopefully it’s the right one. 🙂

‘Spinvasion’ is an okay episode in ‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’ I wouldn’t say it was great, which is a shame as John Dorney is usually a great writer, but I liked the performances by the cast in this story.

‘Spinvasion’ rating – 7/10


Lydia West, Niky Wardley and Sebastian Armeto in ‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’

3. ‘THE SORCERER OF ALBION’

The third episode of ‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’ is ‘The Sorcerer of Albion’ by James Goss. James is no stranger to Donna, having written for her in the episodes ‘Death and the Queen’ and ‘No Place’. 🙂

Whilst I found ‘Spinvasion’ underwhelming, I did find ‘The Sorcerer of Albion’ is be quite compelling. Mind you, Donna doesn’t do a lot since she gets locked up in a dungeon cell, which was disappointing. 😦

The episode has Donna and Nat trying to get back home in the TARDIS. But they end up in the right place at the wrong time. They happen to be in the Middle Ages as they end up inside this monastery.

They meet this great sorcerer called Parval who considers Donna to be Merlin! Wait! Merlin?! Oh hang on! Parval must know the Doctor from long ago and has also considered him to be Merlin then.

Just like in ‘Battlefield’! It is surreal that Parval and his granddaughter Vivien consider Donna to be Merlin and that Merlin can have a sex change. But then the Doctor can sex change too nowadays. 😀

The monastery that Donna and Nat find themselves in happens to be under siege from the Burning Knights. Sorcerer Parval calls on Donna as Merlin to wipe out the Burning Knights with her powers. 😐

When Donna is unable to oblige, Parval does it himself. When Parval demands to know the knowledge of Merlin’s powers, Donna refuses. Thus Donna gets locked up in a dungeon by Parval. 😐

Catherine Tate, despite having a limited role in this episode, does well as Donna. I enjoyed the scenes she has when she is in the dungeon and when she gets visits from people like Vivien and Nat.

Thankfully, Donna does get to have a moment to shine in the episode, especially when she confronts Parval at the story’s conclusion. She also shares a nice scene with Vivien at the end of the episode. 🙂

I suppose you could argue that Donna is taking on the Doctor role with being locked up whilst the story focuses Nat more as the companion figure, which is probably why I found this very fascinating!

Niky Wardley delivers a superb performance as Nat in this episode. Through this episode, we get to learn more about Nat’s history as a character and how she was a friend to Donna in their early lives.

This is a contrast to how we first met here n the opening episode ‘Out of the World’. We also get to meet Nat’s husband Garrison, or rather it’s the Doctor’s TARDIS using the hologram of Garrison here.

It’s unveiled that Nat is currently having an unhappy marriage with Garrison at this point. During this story, Nat sort-of rekindles her feelings for Garrison, as it’s fascinating how she copes alone without Donna.

The episode’s guest cast includes David Schofield as Parval. David’s done a few ‘Doctor Who’ stories before this certain episode, like ‘The Doomsday Quatrain’ on audio and ‘The Girl Who Died’ on TV. 🙂

It’s interesting how Parval gets developed as a villain in this episode. He starts being hungry for power in getting what he wants from Merlin. He also becomes very dismissive of his granddaughter.

Speaking of which, Lydia West guest stars as Vivien in the episode. I like how it gets unveiled that Vivien happens to be the one who’s a source of power for Parval’s magic and that she cares for him.

The episode also features Sebastian Armesto as Garrison Lord, Nat’s husband, who is actually the Doctor’s TARDIS taking the form of him as a hologram. I was disappointed it wasn’t the real Garrison.

The TARDIS as Garrison wants Nat to fetch something rather important, which happens to be a book belonging to the Doctor. By the end of the story, it turns out the book is actually a TARDIS manual. 😀

I like how ‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’ contains two stories – one set on an alien planet (‘Spinvasion’) and one set on Earth in the past (‘The Sorcerer of Albion’). It does provide the spin-off a sense of variety.

At the end of the story, with the TARDIS manual on hand, Donna and Nat use it to find a way to get back to their home time without any problem. Nat also feels confident that she can pilot the TARDIS.

‘The Sorcerer of Albion’ is an enjoyable, entertaining episode in ‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’ I was put off by a lack of Donna, since she’d been put in a dungeon cell, but I did get very invested throughout.

‘The Sorcerer of Albion’ rating – 8/10


David Tennant and Catherine Tate in ‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’

4. ‘THE CHISWICK CUCKOOS’

The final episode of ‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’ happens to be ‘The Chiswick Cuckoos’ by Matt Fitton. I found this a very satisfying conclusion to this spin-off featuring Donna and it was compelling.

In this episode, Donna and Nat return home to their own time in Chiswick, 2009. But something has gone wrong. An alien plot is nearing completion and Donna and Nat must save the world together. 🙂

What I found exciting in this episode is how twisty-turny it is with satisfying results. For starters, we’re at Donna’s home when she’s about to leave for work and her mum Sylvia says goodbye to her.

I found this was set in an alternative timeline or something. But it turns out Donna and Nat are still returning to Earth in the TARDIS by the time Donna leaves for work. I found that a puzzling at first. 😀

But then it gets revealed that the Donna going to work isn’t the real Donna at all. She happens to be an alien Collector who’s taken on the guise of Donna as part of the Collectors’ invasion of Earth here.

I was relieved that there was a real Donna who was returning home from having adventures in time and space with Nat. It was also exciting when Nat discovered that the Donna at work was a fake one.

Donna also receives messages from the Doctor via psychic paper. Don’t worry, the Doctor isn’t completely absent from this episode. We do have a ‘special appearance’ by David Tennant in this. 😀

I was thrilled to find that David Tennant’s Doctor made an appearance at the end of ‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’ and that it wasn’t just a brief cameo. He may not be much in this episode, but he is in it.

It turns out the Doctor has been a prisoner of the Collector aliens since Donna and Nat last left Earth. It also turns out that Donna and Nat have been away for about four weeks and nobody realised this.

Catherine Tate continues to excel as Donna Noble in this audio episode. I liked it when she got to play two versions of Donna – including the real one as well as the fake one who’s really a Collector. 🙂

It was also enjoyable to hear Donna taking charge of the situation, especially when she puts on the Doctor ‘mantle’ and negotiates with the Collector aliens. She manages to save the world by the end.

Niky Wardley is equally good as Nat in this episode. Nat has had a fair experience of adventures with Donna in this ‘Kidnapped’ story. She does come across as resourceful and being a proper companion.

I like how Donna and Nat’s friendship gets explored throughout this four-part adventure. However, Nat isn’t very willing to continue travelling in time and space and wishes to stay put on planet Earth.

Jacqueline King returns as Sylvia Noble in this episode. Sylvia is unaware that Donna has been missing for a long time as she just assumed the fake Donna was her real daughter in all of that time.

I liked it when Sylvia stood up for Donna when she wasn’t around against Marge who was openly insulting her. Jacqueline also gets to play the Collector Prime assuming Sylvia’s form for a bit here. 🙂

It is a shame though that Donna’s granddad Wilfred didn’t make an appearance in this ‘Kidnapped!’ story. I do wonder if Bernard Cribbins was too busy at the time this spin-off box set was being made.

The guest cast also includes Isla Blair back as Marge, who was in the first episode of ‘Kidnapped!’ Isla Blair does to be full-on villain in this episode and it’s intriguing how Marge gets so calculating in this.

There’s also Sebastian Armesto as Garrison Lord, Nat’s husband – the real one, I mean. Not a holographic version created by the TARDIS in the previous episode. Sebastian is also Collector Ten. 🙂

James Joyce makes an appearance in this audio episode as Second Lieutenant Josh Carter. I’ve not heard the new ‘U.N.I.T.’ audio series yet, but I gather Josh Carter is a major character in that series. 🙂

In the end, the world is saved and Donna is back travelling in time and space with the Doctor. The Doctor fixes the damaged TARDIS first whilst Donna says goodbye to Nat and reunites with her mum.

‘The Chiswick Cuckoos’ has been pretty gripping to start to finish. I enjoyed how ‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’ was concluded in this audio episode as the character drama is pretty strong throughout.

At the end of Disc 4, there is a suite of incidental music to enjoy!

‘The Chiswick Cuckoos’ rating – 9/10


BONUS DISC – BEHIND THE SCENES

Disc 5 of the ‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’ CD box set features a behind-the-scenes making-of documentary on the four-episode spin-off series. The documentary was very entertaining and intriguing in terms of how it got made and it was lovely to hear the cast and crew being interviewed.

The documentary begins with director Barnaby Edwards; actresses Catherine Tate and Niky Wardley and script editor Matt Fitton explaining how this series came about. Hearing Catherine and Niky be interviewed by producer David Richardson – laughing about and making jokes – was fun to listen to.

There’s a look into the making of the four episodes. First, it’s ‘Out of this World’, featuring interviews with Jacqueline King, Isla Blair, Anthony Howell and Dan Starkey. It’s a shame that writer Jacqueline Rayner wasn’t interviewed. Barnaby Edwards cast Anthony Howell in this since he has a ‘sexy’ voice.

After having seen Anthony Howell in the BBC version of ‘Wives & Daughters’; I can believe that! 😀 There’s then a look into ‘Spinvasion’, featuring interviews with writer John Dorney, Phil Cornwell, Nisha Nayor and Tim Bentinck. It was fun to hear how Tim Bentinck described Ganthak as being ‘fat’.

After that, it’s a look into ‘The Sorcerer of Albion’, featuring interviews with writer James Goss, David Schofield and Lydia West. It’s interesting that the director Barnaby Edwards recorded Sebastian Armesto’s scenes as Garrison Lord in ‘The Sorcerer of Albion’ from ‘The Chiswick Cuckoos’ recording.

Speaking of which, we have a look into ‘The Chiswick Cuckoos’ itself, featuring interviews with writer Matt Fitton, Jacqueline King, Isla Blair and Sebastian Armesto. James Joyce doesn’t get interviewed sadly and I’m disappointed David Tennant didn’t get interviewed, despite having a small appearance.

I greatly enjoyed ‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’ It was fun to hear a four-episode ‘Doctor Who’ adventure with Donna as the main star. Catherine Tate excels as Donna in the starring role and she has a great chemistry with Niky Wardley as Nat who ends up being her companion in this adventure.

I don’t know if something like this will happen again with Donna Noble. It’s probably a one-off, but for now, I’m looking forward to more exciting adventures with Donna in ‘Doctor Who’ by Big Finish. I wonder if Nat will make a return appearance in the ‘Doctor Who’ universe and catch up with Donna.

‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’ rating – 8/10


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2 thoughts on “‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’ (Audio)

  1. Timelord 007

    Epic review Tim, i don’t usually do spin offs but your review has peaked my interest to give this one a listen, this is a fantastic detailed review i don’t know how you have the patience to write such wonderful reviews because i become very lazy nowadays to review anything but then again you far way excel at producing excellent quality reviews than me.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon.

      Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘Donna Noble: Kidnapped!’.

      It did take five days to write this review since there are 5 discs to cover in the CD box set. I’m glad I’ve raised your interest about this spin-off release. I hope you’ll enjoy it when you get the chance to hear it. It’s worth hearing with Catherine Tate as Donna and a little cameo of David Tennant’s Doctor at the end. 😀

      Tim. 🙂

      Like

      Reply

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