‘THE AUNTIE MATTER’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
“I say!” – ‘Doctor Who’ meets P.G. Wodehouse
For Mary Tamm, the noblest Romana of them all.
I really like this two-part ‘Doctor Who’ audio adventure with Tom Baker’s Doctor and Mary Tamm’s Romana!
‘The Auntie Matter’ is a definite homage to the 1920s and the world of P.G. Wodehouse. It’s one of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ audio stories and it was lovely to hear Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor and Mary Tamm as Romana from ‘The Key to Time’ season, one of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ TV seasons.
I’ve had the CD cover of ‘The Auntie Matter’ signed by writer Jonathan Morris at the ‘Big Blue Box 2’ convention in Tunbridge Wells, March 2013 and by producer David Richardson at the ‘Big Finish Day 6’ convention in Slough, January 2015. I recall having a very nice friendly chat with Jonny Morris once.
I can’t help but enjoy the world of the 1920s as it’s one of my favourite periods of history. The style and wit of Jonathan Morris’ script for ‘The Auntie Matter’ harkens back to the ‘Jeeves & Wooster’ stories by P.G. Woodhouse. I’m sure Douglas Adams would have welcomed this story as a script editor. 😀
I used to have a Christmas tradition where I would watch the ‘Jeeves & Wooster’ TV series starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie every December. It’s one of my favourite TV comedy shows. It’s something Tom Baker and I share in common, as he enjoyed that series too according to the CD extras.
Hearing this story put me in mind of the various tales by P.G. Wodehouse. There’s Reggie trying to find a suitable lady for marriage to please his aunt. For him to be ‘moulded’ and to have someone ‘strong, self-reliant and sensible’. Phrases like “What ho!”; “I say!” and “By George!” gave me goose bumps. 😀
I wasn’t sure whether I would take ‘The Auntie Matter’ seriously at first. But then when the alien menace crept into the story, it was well worth a listen. I like those kinds of stories where you have familiar Earth-like situations presented to you before an alien menace comes in to turn things around.
In this adventure, the Doctor and Romana are on Earth in the 1920s. They’re still escaping the wrath of the Black Guardian at the end of ‘The Armageddon Factor’. The Doctor builds a device to scan energy disturbances whilst Romana goes to a bookshop to find some recent developments in scientific theory.
Romana meets the aristocratic gentleman called Reggie who seems to be taking an interest in her. The two have a spot of lunch together before Reggie invites Romana back to visit her aunt in the Hampshire countryside. Can Romana and the Doctor sort out the alien menace that’s posing as Reggie’s aunt? 😀
I enjoyed how this story has the Doctor and Romana separated for most of the time. Neither of them knows of each other’s presence and it was so funny when the Doctor instructed Mabel not to mention anything to her ladyship (meaning Romana) for being with him. It seems she can ‘so easily be jealous’.
I also enjoyed how this story had Romana with Reggie. He seems to be firm on his mind to marry Romana. I found that scene where she turns him down beautifully-written. Mary delivers those lines very beautifully and politely as her Romana would say them and is how it should be from the TV series.
I liked it when Mabel bumped into Romana and she can’t reveal the Doctor to her. But Romana susses it out already which I thought was brilliant. I also liked it when the Doctor needed someone to ask him questions and he picks Mabel as the next best thing. “Mary, isn’t it?”, “Mabel, sir.”, “I thought so!” 😀
The guest cast are brilliant! They evoke Woodhouse-type characters such as Robert Portal as Reggie. He convinced me with his performance in the style of Bertie Wooster. Reggie is a feckless, somewhat inept young man who is rather spoilt and has this keen eye for the ladies, albeit under his auntie’s eye.
Alan Cox guest stars as Grenvile, who plays the character in the style of an evil Jeeves. I find an evil Jeeves superb. Alan delivers the formal polite manner of being Reggie’s man servant/valet very well. I enjoyed the twist where it’s revealed Grenvile is really an android and Alan Cox plays two characters!
Lucy Griffiths is lovely as Mabel the maid in this adventure. Mable is a sweet, timid young girl who works at the house where the Doctor and Romana are lodging in. I loved it when the Doctor invited Mabel along to join him on this adventure. I did find that love story between her and Reggie sweet. 🙂
The story’s main guest star is Julia McKenzie as the Aunt. She also plays Florence, Reggie’s former fiancée. Julia McKenzie has played Miss Marple in the ITV series ‘Marple’. She plays the Aunt with such menace and a formidable presence just like how Aunt Agatha would be from ‘Jeeves & Wooster’ itself.
Tom Baker as the Doctor is superb. He clearly relishes this P.G. Woodhouse style of story, Who can blame him? 😀 This story suits Tom’s Doctor beautifully with Wodehouse humour and storytelling. Some of the Doctor’s lines story are funny. I enjoyed him driving a 1920s car and confronting the villains.
I also enjoyed the Doctor’s scenes with Reggie especially when he works out the mystery of his aunt. The Doctor gets to deactivate the androids with his sonic screwdriver too. My favourite moment is when the Doctor has his breakfast of burnt kippers and he tells Mabel he doesn’t want them anymore. 😀
‘The Auntie Matter’ is a very touching tribute to the beautiful and lovely Mary Tamm as Romana. She’s on top form in this adventure. She definitely suits the 1920s period. Being a Time Lady, Romana’s cool and resourceful. It was so intriguing when she and the Doctor got separated for most of this adventure.
From hearing this audio, Mary sounds exactly as she was when she played Romana on TV. Her voice is beautiful and I relished the scenes she had with either Reggie, Mabel or the Doctor. I especially enjoyed that last scene between Romana and the Doctor since it’s so well-played out in comedic style.
I greatly enjoyed hearing Mary Tamm as Romana in this Big Finish ‘Doctor Who’ audio adventure. I loved every minute of her voice on audio. Since Mary sadly passed away in July 2012, it was so right that this season of ‘Doctor Who’ audio adventures from Big Finish should be dedicated to her memory.
All in all, ‘The Auntie Matter’ is a very lovely audio drama of 1920s humour. It’s one my favourite Fourth Doctor audio adventures and it’s a lovely tribute to Mary Tamm as Romana. I was looking forward more of this audio season later in that year of 2013 with the Fourth Doctor, Romana and K-9.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of the disc, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew. These include with Tom Baker; Julia McKenzie; Robert Portal; Alan Cox; writer Jonathan Morris, etc. There’s also a lovely tribute to Mary Tamm which I found heart-breaking and touching, featuring interviews with Mary Tamm, Tom Baker and producer David Richardson. There’s a trailer for the next story with the Fourth Doctor and Romana with K-9 called ‘The Sands of Life’.
‘The Auntie Matter’ rating – 10/10
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