‘Downward Spiral’ (ST/Audio)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

Siobhan’s ship and COMPANY with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa

This story is by Alan Flanagan and is read by Sarah Sutton. It features the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa.

At the time of first hearing this story, the world was still going through a 2020 pandemic. Therefore, it was a pleasure to hear ‘Downward Spiral’, the latest Short Trip audio to feature Sarah Sutton who plays Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’. Hearing this Short Trip audio gave me happiness during a difficult time.

I was missing seeing Sarah Sutton at conventions at the time. Anything to fill in that Nyssa/Sarah Sutton absence was welcome and hearing this Short Trip audio provided just that. I was looking forward to hearing it, especially as I pre-ordered the download following its announcement in September 2019. 🙂

Hearing Sarah read a Short Trip audio is always a joy for me. I enjoyed it when she read ‘The King of the Dead’, ‘The Toy’, ‘A Heart on Both Sides’, ‘The Mistpuddle Murders’ and ‘The Second Oldest Question’ beforehand. I also enjoyed Sarah reading ‘The Moon Stallion’ audiobook and still do to this day!

When I saw Sarah at the ‘Film & Comic Con Glasgow’ back in August 2019, she told me that she read this Short Trip audio – ‘Downward Spiral’ – recently. It was lovely for Sarah to share that with me. I get a sense of pleasure and honour that Sarah confides in me little details like that at conventions. 🙂

I’m sure I told Sarah that I was looking forward to the Short Trips audios she’d done recently at the Glasgow comic con in 2019. I’m currently looking forward to sharing with Sarah how much I enjoyed her reading ‘Downward Spiral’ as well as the ‘Timeslip’ audios dramas she’s done and ‘Madquake’. 🙂

Sarah does have a good flair for doing voices in these Short Trip audios as well as doing narration in general. Whilst it was hard work for her, she did well with the voices and narration for ‘The Moon Stallion’ audiobook. You’re guaranteed to have a good time with ‘Downward Spiral’ being read by Sarah here.

Sarah Sutton and writer Alan Flanagan in ‘Downward Spiral’.

The story’s writer, Alan Flanagan, also wrote ‘The Jabari Countdown’ for ‘The Seventh Doctor: The New Adventures – Volume 1’ CD box set. I enjoyed Alan’s writing of this story and it was intriguing to hear his take on how the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa sounded and to hear Sarah Sutton performing it.

‘Downward Spiral’ has the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa meeting Siobhan Mayhew, not Matthews according to the synopsis, who’s been travelling on her ship (called the Reverence, I believe) for a very long time and is all alone. 😐 This reflects isolation happening in the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.

Siobhan has her ship’s AI called COMPANY. It has the stored personalities of her nearest, dearest and closest ones, including her father Mikey and her little daughter Nicole. I loved the high pitch voice Sarah gave to Nicole as well as the Irish accents for Siobhan and her father Mikey in this audio story.

As Siobhan’s ship spirals towards something in the dark that’s hungry, COMPANY may not be as reassuring as she might like. I liked how Nyssa attempts to get through to Siobhan by helping her to come out of her grief and isolation in order to stay alive. Nyssa shares memories of her father to her.

I admit; there are quite a number of complexities to get your head around in this tale. This is especially with the COMPANY concept and the floating in space thing where the Doctor and Nyssa are in zero gravity. I had to hear this story four times in July and October 2020 to understand it fully.

But that didn’t make the story less enjoyable. On the contrary, this story was relaxing and enjoyable to listen to. Sarah’s soothing tones when she’s reading the story and performing the characters help to make it enjoyable and the character journey Siobhan finds herself on does feel pretty relatable. 🙂

Incidentally, the story is presented as a recording given by Nyssa to Siobhan aboard her spaceship. Sometimes I wonder if it’s played later at a museum. It probably is. It depends on how you perceive it, especially as the recording is replayed for a bit once it comes to the end and rewinds itself back. 🙂

Nyssa even talks in a monologue whilst addressing Siobhan during the recording. Neat! I like how the pilot references are made in the story. It made me think of Sarah Sutton wanting to fly a plane. I’ve even seen Sarah in plane gear in one of the photos shown at the ‘Pandorica 2015′ convention. 🙂

Sarah Sutton in ‘Downward Spiral’.

‘Downward Spiral’ is a very enjoyable Short Trip adventure, featuring a lovely reading/performance by Sarah Sutton. It was good to hear this story during the climate of 2020 and it’s bound to be good to listen to afterwards. I’m certain it’ll be very relatable for people who are living in isolation wherever they are.

I hope more Short Trip audios featuring Sarah Sutton as Nyssa will be made as soon as possible in the near future. Otherwise, I’ll have to write more Short Trips featuring the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Billy. 😀

‘Downward Spiral’ rating – 8/10

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