‘SEVEN KEYS TO DOOMSDAY’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Playing Daleks With Trevor Martin’s Doctor, Jenny and Jimmy On Audio
I’ve enjoyed listening to this audio production of a ‘Doctor Who’ stage play with the Daleks!
In December 1974, the ‘Doctor Who’ stage play called ‘Doctor Who and the Daleks in the Seven Keys to Doomsday’ was performed at the Adelphi Theatre in London in the UK. The play received positive reviews, although it wasn’t the success it could’ve been due to bomb scares that happened back then.
At that time, ‘Doctor Who’ was entering a phase of transition. Jon Pertwee had left the TV series playing the Third Doctor for five years before Tom Baker took over as the Fourth Doctor. Jon Pertwee was originally meant to play the Doctor for the ‘Seven Keys to Doomsday’ stage play. Sadly he did not.
Instead the role was given to Trevor Martin who had played a Time Lord in the Patrick Troughton swansong story ‘The War Games’. Trevor Martin as the Doctor was joined by his companions Wendy Padbury as Jenny and James Matthews as Jimmy. The stage play itself was scripted by Terrance Dicks.
Many years later in 2008, Big Finish decided to do audio adaptations of the ‘Doctor Who’ stage plays that were shown back in the day. This included ‘The Curse of the Daleks’ from 1965 and ‘The Ultimate Adventure’ from 1989 as well as ‘Seven Keys to Doomsday’. Terrance Dicks was invited to come back.
Essentially, Terrance Dicks was given the chance to adapt the original stage play of ‘Seven Keys to Doomsday’ in an audio drama. Terrance happily took on the challenge, though he would’ve preferred it if the audio didn’t include the opening scene from the stage play. Big Finish wanted to keep it though.
I purchased all three ‘Doctor Who’ stage play audios from Big Finish in a bundle including ‘The Curse of the Daleks’, ‘Seven Keys to Doomsday’ and ‘The Ultimate Adventure’, though I didn’t get a chance to hear them properly. Thankfully, I’ve been able to hear ‘Seven Keys to Doomsday’ with an interest.
It’s interesting that this audio production of a ‘Doctor Who’ stage play features a Doctor who was in-between Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker. It would’ve been better if Jon Pertwee played the Doctor instead, but it was fun to think there could’ve been a Doctor instead of Tom Baker in Trevor Martin.
Trevor Martin is very good as the Doctor in this audio adaptation of ‘Seven Keys to Doomsday’. I can’t say how this compares to his performance in the actual stage production since I wasn’t around back in 1974 to watch it. But from what I’ve heard, Trevor Martin comes across as sounding great as the Doctor.
His Doctor is almost a replica of the Jon Pertwee Doctor which I assume is who Terrance Dicks would’ve based the character on since he originally wrote it for the Third Doctor in the stage production. There are also traces of William Hartnell’s featured in Trevor Martin’s performance in this audio production.
This audio production of ‘Seven Keys to Doomsday’ is divided into two acts, though you could say it’s two episodes. Big Finish wanted these audio versions of the ‘Doctor Who’ stage plays to sound authentic as if they were stage plays themselves. It’s a bit of a challenge to get your head around that.
The story opens in a very unusual way. It starts with Jenny and Jimmy sitting down with a theatre audience as they’re about to watch a play. This is before the title music comes on. It’s quite surreal that Big Finish took the approach in starting the story like that as the theatre production begun it like that.
After the title music, the TARDIS conveniently materialises on the theatre stage for the Doctor to step out and collapse before Jenny and Jimmy go over to aid him. They get him back inside his TARDIS before the real adventure starts. Like I said, Terrance Dicks didn’t want to include that original opening for audio.
By the way, when the Doctor first appears, it’s Nicholas Briggs playing him and not Trevor Martin as you would expect. A regeneration scene occurs in the TARDIS where the Doctor does become Trevor Martin. Originally it was just images of Jon Pertwee on a monitor screen before Trevor Martin appeared.
From hearing the audio production, the stage play does feel like a traditional ‘Doctor Who’ adventure. It could easily have the pantomime feel to it especially since this was shown before Christmas 1974. But from hearing the audio, there were thankfully no songs performed as in ‘The Ultimate Adventure’.
Charlie Hayes plays Jenny, one of Trevor Martin’s companions in this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure. Charlie is also the daughter of Wendy Padbury who played Jenny in the stage production of ‘Seven Keys to Doosmday’ as well as Zoe in the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series. It’s amazing Charlie is playing Jenny in this audio.
Hearing the audio, Charlie Hayes does almost sound like a younger version of her mother in this. Jenny comes across as a likeable companion character to Trevor Martin’s Doctor. She seems a more enthusiastic, willing and adventurous person to go on time and space adventures compared to Jimmy.
Speaking of Jimmy, Joseph Thompson plays the character. Originally it was James Matthews who played Jimmy in the stage production. I don’t think there’s an actual connection between Joe Thompson and James Matthews. The director John Ainsworth cast Joe Thompson since he’d worked with him in ‘I.D’.
I found Jimmy unlikeable as a character compared to Jenny. I assume he’s Jenny’s boyfriend since it’s not made clear, but he comes across as moany, whiny and complaining a lot. He seems sceptical and doesn’t appreciate it when he and Jenny help the Doctor out and he wants to get back to that theatre.
The story of ‘Seven Keys to Doomsday’ is essentially the Doctor trying to collect seven crystal keys on the planet Karn before the Daleks get them to form an ultimate weapon of theirs. Yeah, the planet Karn featured in the ‘Doctor Who’ stage play before Terrance Dicks reused it for ‘The Brain of Morbius’ story.
The concept of a quest to collect crystal keys to form a weapon was also used for ‘The Key To Time’ season when Tom Baker’s Doctor went out with Romana to collect the six segments of the aforementioned key. It’s very nice how these references in the stage play resurfaced in later TV stories.
The Daleks, voiced by Nicholas Briggs, appear as the story’s enemies with Trevor Martin’s Doctor. This was the first time the Daleks appeared in a stage play with the Doctor present in it. Previously, the Daleks had their own stage play in ‘The Curse of the Daleks’ back in 1965. It was great to hear them here.
I think it’s assumed if you ever do a ‘Doctor Who’ stage play, you’ve got to have the Daleks featured in it. That’s the case for ‘Seven Keys to Doomsday’ as well as the other stage plays adapted by Big Finish. I also experienced seeing the Daleks on stage in the ‘Doctor Who Live’ stage show back in 2010.
The Dalek Emperor also makes an appearance in ‘Seven Keys to Doomsday’. It’s interesting that the Emperor gets addressed as ‘your majesty’ by its Dalek subordinates. I’ve not heard a Dalek Emperor be called that in the TV series. Would it be better to address the Emperor as ‘excellency’ instead of ‘majesty’?
In the story, the Daleks also have servants called the Clawrantulars. I imagine they must have looked like crab-like spiders in the stage production and would’ve been difficult to maneuverer by the actors playing them. The Clawrantulars serve as the story’s monster in the first act before the Daleks turn up.
The story’s cast also includes Nicholas Deal as Jedak, not Ian Ruskin as in the stage production. Nicholas Deal has also guest starred in ‘Renaissance of the Daleks’ with Peter Davison. There’s also Christine Brennan as Tara, not Patsy Dermott as in the stage production. Jedak and Tara are fighting the Daleks.
Steve Wickham guest stars as Garm, not Anthony Garner as in the stage production, as well as the Master of Karn, not Simon Jones as in the stage production. Wait a minute! Simon Jones was in the ‘Seven Keys to Doomsday’ stage play. That was before he did ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’! Super wow!
There’s also Paul Thornley as the Computer on Karn, not sure who did the original in the stage production, as well as Marko, not Robin Browne as in the stage production. It seems there’s a connection between Marko and Tara in this story, since Tara almost betrays her friends to the Daleks.
The CD extras are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s a trailer for ‘The Curse of the Daleks’. There’s also the documentary ‘Remembering ‘Seven Keys to Doomsday’ with Trevor Martin and Terrance Dicks. On Disc 2, there’s ‘Growing Up With ‘Doctor Who’ with Charlie Hayes and the documentary ‘Remaking ‘Seven Keys to Doomsday’ with behind-the-scenes cast and crew interviews, including Trevor Martin.
‘Seven Keys to Doomsday’ has been an enjoyable ‘Doctor Who’ stage play to listen to as an audio production. Trevor Martin is very good as the Doctor and I like how the Daleks are presented in this adventure. It’s interesting how the initial stage play came to be before becoming an audio adaptation.
The story is left open-ended as the Doctor returns Jenny and Jimmy to the theatre where they started before asking them to accompany him on another adventure. Sadly that can’t happen as Trevor Martin passed away in October 2017. But if it did happen, I would like Jenny to go with the Doctor. Not Jimmy.
‘Seven Keys to Doomsday’ rating – 8/10
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