‘THE SECRET HISTORY’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
First Doctor Adventure with the Fifth Doctor, Vicki, Steven and the Monk
Here’s to the Mighty 200…of Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’!
This is ‘The Secret History’, the third and final story of ‘The Locum Doctors Trilogy’ by Big Finish! It stars Peter Davison as the Doctor, Maureen O’Brien as Vicki and Peter Purves as Steven. This is the grand finale and it answers questions on what has been puzzling me about this ‘Doctor Who’ trilogy.
As before with ‘The Defectors’ and ‘Last of the Cybermen’, ‘The Locum Doctors Trilogy’ are stories where the main range Doctors in Big Finish are put in earlier Doctor adventures with past companions. The arc goes back from Seven to Five. Here Five gets paired up with Vicki and Steven.
‘The Secret History’ is a four-part adventure by Eddie Robson, who has penned many great ‘Doctor Who’ audios for Big Finish. The story begins with Vicki and Steven being chased by the alien Antoim. They run into the TARDIS and find…the Fifth Doctor, who has swapped places with the First Doctor.
As I said, ‘The Secret History’ is the 200th release of main range audios of ‘Doctor Who’ by Big Finish. I was expecting there to be another four single-episode story CD that had been done with ‘100’. But it’s nice that Big Finish are able to celebrate 200 releases this way with their ‘Locum Doctors Trilogy’.
I loved that first scene where Vicki and Steven meet the Fifth Doctor for the first time in the TARDIS. They’re both, quite understandably uncertain whether to believe this young cricketer is their Doctor from the future. I liked that Vicki gradually seems willing to believe it’s him whilst Steven is sceptical.
Having the Fifth Doctor associated with Vicki and Steven in this story of the trilogy feels right somehow. Peter Davison had watched ‘Doctor Who’ as a kid from the William Hartnell era and the Fifth Doctor has met the First Doctor (sort of) in the 20th anniversary special story, ‘The Five Doctors’.
The Fifth Doctor also emits certain aspects of the First Doctor in his persona. Although younger looking compared to the First Doctor, the Fifth Doctor does have similar traits like his grumpiness and curiosity. This sort-of explains why Vicki is willing to accept and believe that he is the Doctor.
I love the references to past First Doctor stories when Five is trying to prove to Vicki and Steven that he is the Doctor. I liked it when references are made to ‘The Rescue’ and ‘The Romans’ as the Doctor is proving himself to Vicki. There are also references to ‘The Time Meddler’ here, but that’s for later on.
I’m pleased the First Doctor’s theme music is used throughout this story instead of the familiar Fifth Doctor theme music. It’s also great that this story is an historical adventure. The stories set in history are what made the William Hartnell era so memorable. The original cast members also loved them.
I must admit I’m not familiar with ‘the secret history’ that’s detailed in this story about Constantinople. But I enjoyed the experience of discovering and learning about a new period of history. I could feel the atmosphere of previous First Doctor historical adventures in this audio drama.
Peter Davison is superb as the Doctor in this adventure. I imagine that this is the Fifth Doctor from his third season of ‘Doctor Who’ (Season 21), since he makes no mention of his companions. I like how he’s very fond of Vicki and Steven; discovers who the villain is and gets determined to sort things.
Maureen O’Brien is equally superb as Vicki. She manages to recreate Vicki as she was from the TV series, despite being older as an actress. I liked Vicki’s spirit in this adventure and how she gets to be resourceful. She’s clearly a girl who wants an adventure and to help the Doctor when he’s in prison.
Peter Purves is also superb as Steven in this adventure. Sadly, Steven gets separated from the Doctor and Vicki when he’s shipped off to Constantinople. He gets cured by Quintus and gets to work for Yazid to gain money to return back to the TARDIS. Oh, and he also gets to ride in a chariot race in this.
The villain of this story is Graeme Garden as Quintus…who turns out to be the Monk! Yes, you heard me! The Meddling Monk! I got shivers down my spine when I heard that first scene between Peter Davison’s Doctor and Graeme Garden’s Monk. The Doctor is shocked when he recognises the Monk.
In the TV series, the Monk was played by Peter Butterworth during William Hartnell’s era of ‘Doctor Who’. Graeme Garden plays the Monk for the Big Finish audios. More recently, he played the Monk in the Eighth Doctor audio adventures. This tale takes place directly after those audios for the Monk.
I like Graeme Garden’s performance as the Monk on audio. He’s clearly not Peter Butterworth, but he sounds easily likeable when he’s masquerading as Quintus. The balance of humour and menace in the Monk is just right. He’s clearly someone who wants to make things better but makes it worse.
It turns out ‘the whole Doctor swapping places with earlier Doctors’ in ‘The Locum Doctors Trilogy’ is all the Monk’s doing. This is part of the Monk’s revenge on the Doctor for the death of someone close to him that happened in the Eighth Doctor audios. But it hasn’t happened for the Doctor yet.
I found it disturbing when the Doctor makes a mistake by changing his timeline and was tricked by the Monk. He gets removed from his timeline before the Monk steps in. The fourth episode has the Monk as the Doctor now travelling with Steven and Vicki. How will the ‘real’ Doctor get out of this one?
Lysette Anthony guest stars as Sophia, someone who helps the Monk in his revenge plan against the Doctor. Sophie is told about the Doctor by the Monk and the ‘horrible’ things he did to him. Sophie believes the Monk and it turns out she’s a time-sensitive who uses her powers against the Doctor.
There’s also Tony Millan (who guest-starred in ‘Mother Russia’ with Peter Purves) as Procopius, the author of ‘the secret history’. But he hasn’t written it yet in this. There’s also Giles Watling as Belisarius, a general in the Roman Army who helps the Doctor and Vicki with finding Steven in Constantinople.
There’s also Tim Wallers as Emperor Justinian and Sarah Woodward as Theodora. Both rule Constantinople together. They sound comedic like Emperor Nero and his wife from ‘The Romans’. They both get taken over by the monstrous-like Ostardi which the Monk had intended in his plans.
I like how the story is resolved and how the Doctor manages to defeat the Monk. It was good there were audio clips from the two preceding stories, ‘The Defectors’ and ‘Last of the Cybermen’ to explain ‘The Locum Doctors Trilogy’. It was sad when Five left the TARDIS before Vicki’s and Steven’s eyes.
‘The Secret History’ is a satisfying conclusion to ‘The Locum Doctors Trilogy’ and a great landmark 200th release of ‘Doctor Who’ in Big Finish. I enjoyed the historical atmosphere of this tale that harkened back to the First Doctor era and enjoyed the Fifth Doctor, Vicki and Steven with the Monk.
‘The Locum Doctors Trilogy’ has been an enjoyable trilogy of ‘Doctor Who’ stories. It was an interesting idea to have future Doctors swapped with earlier Doctors and have their adventures. I wonder what it would be like with having new series Doctors with past companions in ‘Doctor Who’.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there are two tracks of incidental music to enjoy. At the end of Disc 2, there’s a trailer for ‘We Are The Daleks’ with Sylvester McCoy. There are also behind-the-scenes interviews with Peter Davison, Maureen O’Brien, Peter Purves, Graeme Garden, etc.
If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘The Secret History’ via a 6 or 12 CD/Download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There is a PDF script and extended extras for ‘The Secret History’. There’s also a bonus Short Trip called ‘Sphinx Lightning’ with the Third Doctor, read by Stephen Critchlow.
‘The Secret History’ rating – 8/10
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