‘THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Charley’s Final Adventure with the Eighth Doctor vs. the Cybermen!
Charley Polland never wanted it to end with the Eighth Doctor!
‘The Girl Who Never Was’ is the final adventure with Charley Pollard in her travels with the Eighth Doctor. She gets to join the Doctor and faces the Cybermen in this four-parter. India Fisher as Charley Pollard has been Paul McGann’s ‘Doctor Who’ companion since the beginning of his audio adventures.
From ‘Storm Warning’ to ‘The Girl Who Never Was’, Charley was always been there at the Eighth Doctor’s side in adventures through time and space. But as the Eighth Doctor was about to enter into new territory with a new companion, it was time to end Charley’s story that had been running so long.
It’s a well-deserved departure for Charley and I’m sure for many fans a heart-breaking one. This story follows on directly from ‘Absolution’ where it ended with the shocking death of C’rizz, who was with the Eighth Doctor and Charley in the later adventures of the series. Charley is shocked by C’rizz’s death.
She’s even more shocked by the Doctor’s reaction to it as he has to move on. Not willing to accept the Doctor’s reaction, Charley asks the Doctor to take her home. The Doctor takes Charley home and after much pleading and arguing, the TARDIS arrives in Singapore. It is where it comes full circle for Charley.
Singapore was where Charley was supposed to head for during her trip on the airship R101 in ‘Storm Warning’. But it turns out the Doctor’s got it wrong again. He’s landed the TARDIS in the right place but the wrong time. It’s 2008 in Singapore when it should have been 1931. Charley is angry about this.
She leaves the Doctor whilst he’s trying to work out the problem. Eventually the two of them meet each other again and solve the mystery together for one last time. It soon takes them onto a battleship in an ocean near Singapore within separate time zones from 2008 to 1942 and the year 500,002 itself.
‘The Girl Who Never Was’ is a bracing adventure that is quite a one to follow and keep up with since we’re shifting from various time zones from 2008 to 1942. But Alan Barnes manages to get across a well-deserved companion exit for Charley. He’s enjoyed writing her since the start in ‘Storm Warning’.
It’s fitting that the writer of Charley’s first adventure should pen this final tale of her adventures with the Eighth Doctor. Usually that doesn’t happen for so many companions, unless you get a really good writer who knows the character inside out. It is a complex tale, but it has a nice historical Earth setting.
The story’s guest cast is pretty good. There’s Danny Webb as the story’s villain, Byron. Danny was in the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series with David Tennant where he played Mr. Jefferson in ‘The Impossible Planet’/’The Satan Pit’. Byron is a smuggler and a sly dodgy character for the Doctor and Charley here.
Danny plays two versions of Byron. One is Byron Senior with Charley in 1942 and Byron Junior with the Doctor in 2008. Both have similar personalities and objectives which got me confused a little. But Danny plays both Byrons with such believability and his Australian accent for both of them are superb.
There’s Amanda Root who I loved listening to in this story. I know Amanda for playing the main lead of a BBC production of ‘Persuasion’ in 1995. To hear her in a ‘Doctor Who’ story by Big Finish was such a treat. I was intrigued and wondered what Amanda Root would be like appearing in a ‘Doctor Who’ story.
In this story, she’s at first playing a sailor boy called Simons. But it turns out she’s actually a stowaway disguising herself as one of the crew. She’s in actual fact Madeleine Fairweather. Madeleine gets to share an adventure with Charley. She also meets up with the Doctor towards the end which is superb.
I really have enjoyed Amanda Root in this audio adventure. She’s got such a sweet lovely voice for audio and is great at playing period characters like she does one set in 1942 during this audio adventure. It was a real treat and good to know her from a classical period drama before ‘Doctor Who’.
A notable guest star is Anna Massey as Miss Pollard. Yes, Miss Pollard! The Doctor comes across her in 2008 when he’s trying to find Charley and get back the TARDIS. He’s curious about who she is. Miss Pollard doesn’t seem to recognise the Doctor. But isn’t she supposed to be a future version of Charley?
Miss Pollard happens to be the mother of Byron Junior in 2008. This is very strange and it got me puzzled when I heard it. But there’s a lot more to Miss Pollard than we listeners may think. It took me by surprise to find out exactly who she is. Anna Massey pulls off a marvelous performance in this story.
Jake McGann also guest stars as a ‘Young Man’ in the story. Jake is Paul McGann’s son and would later play Susan Campbell’s son, Alex, in later Eighth Doctor stories starting with ‘An Earthly Child’. There’s also Tim Sutton (not related to Sarah Sutton I don’t think and certainly not me! 😀 ) as Colville in this.
In the story, there’s a jovial sea-shanty sung by the crew of the mysterious battleship next to Singapore called ‘Botany Bay’. The lyrics are by Tim Sutton who plays Colville in the story and he also sings it in the audio adventure. The audio story’s music does feel quite eerie, haunting and beautiful to listen to.
The story’s monsters are of course the Cybermen. I enjoyed these Cybermen as they’re ‘The Invasion’ ones with a mix of new series voices and a hint of ‘The Tenth Planet’ Mondas Cybermen voices somewhere. I liked it when they were stomping about with metallic footsteps in this audio adventure.
The Cybermen don’t appear until the end of ‘Part Two’, but are certainly glorious when they come into the story proper. They’re on board this battleship where the Doctor and friends find them. They have with their own agenda and are intent on converting everyone aboard the ship, including Byron Junior.
There’s also a Cyber Planner who soon transfers its mind into Charley’s and converts her into one of them. She gets implants when she’s becomes the Cyber Planner. It was a really chilling moment when we hear Charley cyberfied in the cliffhanger for ‘Part Three’ and Madeleine becomes shocked by it all.
This is years before ‘Nightmare In Silver‘ came along with Charley getting Borg-like implants from ‘Star Trek’ in becoming the Cyber Planner. India is really chilling and frightening when I heard her in that monotone voice and I was thinking the Cybermen really got her in this one. It was exciting and chilling.
The Cybermen are still allergic to gold when they’re threatened with gold ingots aboard the ship. This was a bit annoying for me since it’s always an easy way out to beat against these metal meanies. But they still keep the menace of the Cybermen in the story though. I’d like to see a ‘Gold’ Cybermen next.
This story of course is all about India Fisher as Charley and her final adventure with the Eighth Doctor. She gets separated from the Doctor most of the time, but handles it well. Charley shares an adventure with Madeleine and she reminds her a little bit of herself when she first stowed away aboard the R101.
Charley recognises and remembers the Cybermen from ‘Sword of Orion’ and is willing to go against them since she recalld what they are from the Garazone System. I liked it when Charley plays a prank on the Doctor in the first episode. It made me laugh. Despite leaving, she’s still in love with the Doctor.
I also found that moment in ‘Part Four’ when the Doctor tries to erase her memories very gut-wrenching. It’s something he would again with Donna Noble in ‘Journey’s End’. Yet Charley manages to retain her memories since her adventures with the Doctor is something she does not want to forget.
Paul McGann as ever excels as the Doctor. He doesn’t want Charley to leave and is working out the mystery with the time zones and the mysterious battleship containing Cybermen next to Singapore. He is curious about Anna Masey as Miss Pollard and wonders what her connection is to Byrons in this.
Paul’s Doctor fits this audio adventure well as he is finding himself in a tricky situation when he’s trying to save Charley and stop Byron. It’s a marvelous performance on Paul McGann’s part and his scenes with Charley are truly moving and intense. It’s heartbreaking to know that this era’s coming to an end.
The last scene is with the Doctor when he’s lost Charley and he tries to find some trace of her but can’t. He eventually returns to the hotel in Singapore 2008 where Charley left a message for him. The Doctor takes the letter from the receptionist and reads it. It’s a message that is so heartbreaking to hear.
It affects the Doctor deeply and it’s a beautifully written message from Charley on how much she enjoyed her adventures with the Doctor and that she ‘never wanted it to end’. The Doctor, heartbroken with the loss of Charley, departs the hotel, knowing that everyone leaves him in the end.
There’s a post-credits sequence to listen to at the end, so don’t stop! There’s still more. Charley’s story isn’t over yet. After being washed up on the shore when the Cyber-ship crashed, Charley continues writing her memoirs of an Edwardian adventuress. She’s lost and alone. The Doctor is nowhere about.
Charley needs rescuing, so she sends out an SOS message to anyone who can hear it. That message is continuing to be sent out. Never stopping, never ending. Charley then hears the TARDIS. It whooshes and grinds, echoing close to her. Charley is filled joy and brought to tears and she runs off to the sound.
She eventually finds the TARDIS; bangs on the door and calls out the Doctor’s name. The TARDIS doors open and she enters inside, so happy! But it isn’t the Doctor! Not her Doctor! Charley is surprised and taken back. It’s the wrong console room she’s entered in. She looks to the man at the console in shock.
Charley thought the man at the console was someone else. Who is he? Who is this man’s TARDIS she’s forced her way into? I’ll give you a clue. It’s in the end theme music that follows after this. I’ve yet to hear Charley’s first audio adventure with this particular incarnation of the Doctor. I look forward to it.
The CD extras are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s a trailer for ‘The Bride of Peladon’ with Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant and Caroline Morris. At the end of Discs 1 and 2, there are some behind-the-scenes interviews with cast and crew including Paul McGann, India Fisher, Danny Webb, Anna Masey, etc. There are also trailers for two ‘Doctor Who’ stories with Paul McGann, India Fisher and Conrad Westmaas, including ‘Memory Lane’ and ‘Absolution’.
‘The Girl Who Never Was’ is a well-deserved story to finish off Charley’s adventures with the Eighth Doctor. It’s a sad and moving end for Charley, but it’s clear that her adventures aren’t over yet. There’s more to come with another set of adventures for Charley and with a completely different Doctor as well.
‘The Girl Who Never Was’ rating – 8/10
|The previous story
For the Eighth Doctor was
For Charley was
|The next story
For the Eighth Doctor is
For Charley is
|Return to The Eighth Doctor’s Timeline|
|Return to Charley’s Timeline|
|Return to The Doctors’ Timelines Index|
|Return to The Companions’ Timelines Index|
|Return to Doctor Who Timelines|
|Return to Doctor Who|
|Return to Sci-Fi|