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Tribute for Tom Baker – Celebrating 50 Years of ‘Doctor Who’
April 2013. It’s time to celebrate the Fourth Doctor era of ‘Doctor Who’ with Tom Baker!
The Tom Baker era of ‘Doctor Who’ for me had classic stories like ‘Genesis of the Daleks’; ‘The Robots of Death’; ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang’; ‘The Key to Time’ season and ‘City of Death’. These are some of favourite stories of Tom Baker’s era as he was the Fourth Doctor for seven years on TV!
The Fourth Doctor had many adventures. He witnessed the creation of the Daleks and met their creator Davros; he battled the giant flesh-eating plant-like Kyrnoid; he elected himself as President of the High Council of Time Lords on Gallifrey and he went on a quest to search for the Key to Time.
For the 50th anniversary of ‘Doctor Who’, I wrote my personal fan-fiction story with the Fourth Doctor; Leela and K9 to celebrate the Fourth Doctor era. Tom’s Doctor has had companions including Sarah Jane Smith; Leela; K9 and two Romanas. He’s also met Nyssa, Tegan and Adric at the end of his era.
The ‘Destiny of the Doctor’ series, produced by Big Finish and AudioGo, continues to celebrate the 50th anniversary of ‘Doctor Who’ in the fourth instalment with the Fourth Doctor. ‘Babblesphere’ by Jonathan Morris features the Fourth Doctor and the second Romana, taking place during Season 17.
As before with the first three ‘DOTD’ stories (previously with ‘Vengeance of the Stones’), this story is narrated and performed by an actor/actress who was in the TV series with a guest star as a supporting character. ‘Babblesphere’ is performed by Lalla Ward as the second Romana from the TV series and guest stars Roger Parrot as Aurelius.
I’ve had the CD cover of ‘Babblesphere’ signed by Lalla Ward, who I met at the ‘Project Motor Mouth 2’ convention in Slough, August 2013. I had a nice chat with Lalla about this story and told her I was a fan of ‘Shada’ to which she approved of. We also chatted about the Douglas Adams era of ‘Doctor Who’.
I’ve also met writer Jonathan Morris at the ‘Big Blue Box 2’ convention in Tunbridge Wells, March 2013. I had a nice chat with him about the ‘Doctor Who’ stories he wrote for Big Finish audio and told him how much I love the Peter Davison stories he wrote. I hope I’ll meet Jonny again soon at a convention.
Jonny writes ‘Babblesphere’ in the style of the Douglas Adams era of ‘Doctor Who’. It’s clear there are jokes and scenes filled with Adams-esque humour. The ‘mostly harmless’ joke and the opening scene with Tiberius 134 who dreamt he was a balloon and talking about breakfast was funny to hear.
I’ve always liked the Douglas Adams stories of ‘Doctor Who’. Some of the science stuff featured in the stories is a bit beyond me, but I’ve always liked the humour in those stories. Jonny Morris captures the feel and essence of the Douglas Adams era of ‘Doctor Who’ in ‘Babblesphere’ superbly.
Lalla Ward reprises her role as the second Romana. It’s clear that she enjoyed this story, as the Douglas Adams era of ‘Doctor Who’ was her favourite on the show. I enjoyed Lalla reading and performing this audio story. She also read the novelization/audiobook of ‘Shada’ by Gareth Roberts.
‘Babblesphere’s setting was so intriguing to listen to. It’s set on a hostile, volcanic world with the palace of Versailles in the middle of it, containing a colony of composers; writers and artists. There’s a ridiculous feel of a French Revolutionary setting with men in powdered wigs and women in frocks.
The Babble network was a very inspired idea to listen to. The concept of the colonists connected to each other by computer chips in their head and sharing each other’s thought in their personal lives is frightening if not disturbing. It’s not too dissimilar to the social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
Romana gets to have her own adventure in this story, as she gets locked up in a cell by herself most of the time. She then meets up with Aurelis and learns more about the Babble network. She also meets up with eccentric freedom fighters Phyllis and Hortensia, who are old ladies, which is bizarre.
I don’t think that Lalla does a very good impersonation of Tom Baker’s Doctor, but has a good go at it. I would have liked to have heard more of the Fourth Doctor as the story focuses mostly on Romana. I also would have liked K9 to be in this as he was put on recharge in the TARDIS throughout.
Roger Parrott guest stars as Aurelius and the Prolocutor of the Babblesphere. As Aurelius, he’s the outsider who doesn’t want to get involved in the Babble network. The twist in Roger’s performance was unexpected as he gets possessed by the Prolocutor and treats the Doctor and Romana so badly.
The link between these ‘DOTD’ stories is starting to make more sense as the Eleventh Doctor pops in and out of the eleven stories. It seems the Eleventh Doctor is sending messages to his former selves as something’s going to happen in the last story of the ‘DOTD’ series. I wondered what it was about.
The music and sound design of ‘Babblesphere’ is very good to listen to. The incidental music put me very in mind of the scores composed by Dudley Simpson during the Tom Baker era of ‘Doctor Who’.
There aren’t any CD extras, apart from the Fourth Doctor and Romana’s biographies in the CD sleeve notes. If you purchase the complete ‘DOTD’ series as a bundle from Big Finish, there’s a behind-the-scenes making-of documentary on the series called ‘Meeting with Destiny’ with ‘The Time Machine’.
‘Babblesphere’ has been a very enjoyable audio adventure with the Fourth Doctor and Romana. It isn’t the best of the ‘Destiny of the Doctor’ series so far, but it served well to celebrate Tom Baker’s era of ‘Doctor Who’. I was looking forward to finding out what happens next as this series continued.
‘Babblesphere’ (DOTD) rating – 8/10
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