‘THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
A Fun Adventure with Romana, the Fourth Doctor and K-9
This is a juicy Douglas Adams-styled adventure in ‘Doctor Who’ from Big Finish!
‘The Beautiful People’ is the fourth ‘Companion Chronicle’ by Big Finish in ‘Doctor Who’. It stars Lalla Ward who reprises her role as the second Romana, companion to the Fourth Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’. I greatly enjoyed this audio story as it has lots of whimsical imagination and humour from Season 17.
Like many ‘Companion Chronicles’, these are audiobooks read by one actor who played a companion from the TV series with a guest star playing a supporting character in it. This is one of the earliest ‘Companion Chronicles’ from Series 1 of the range to represent eras of the early classic ‘Doctor Who’.
In the case of ‘The Beautiful People’, this story represents the Fourth Doctor era of ‘Doctor Who’ with Tom Baker. Lalla Ward was chosen to play the second Romana for this first Fourth Doctor story in the ‘Companion Chronicles’ range. I’m pleased there’s the Douglas Adams atmosphere in this one.
Lalla Ward played Romana with Tom Baker’s Doctor from ‘Destiny of the Daleks’ in Season 17. ‘The Beautiful People’ takes place during Season 17 of ‘Doctor Who’ between ‘Nightmare of Eden’ and ‘The Horns of Nimon’. Romana narrates this story like it was her diary from her travels in the TARDIS.
This ‘Companion Chronicle’ was produced and directed by Mark J. Thompson. Mark produced and directed all of the Companions Chronicles in the first series of this range of ‘Doctor Who’ audios. Mark wrote, produced and directed the ‘Soldiers of Love’ CD series and wrote and directed ‘TravelWise’ on VHS.
‘The Beautiful People’ is by Jonathan Morris. Like ‘The Blue Tooth’ beforehand, this is a four-part adventure on one disc. The four episodes are of varying length and are very engaging to listen to. I enjoyed how Jonathan Morris captures the Douglas Adams atmosphere in this story with Romana.
Most of this story focuses on Romana, as she relates this from her point of view. The Doctor and K-9 only appear in ‘Parts One and Four’, as they are absent from ‘Parts Two and Three’. This is very unusual to not have the Doctor appear in most of the story, as Romana has her own adventure here.
I loved the Douglas Adams-styled humour added by Jonny Morris in his story. I loved that first scene in the TARDIS between the Doctor and Romana where they’re talking about doughnuts. Jonny captures the Douglas Adams era superbly, as he also penned ‘Festival of Death’ and ‘Babblesphere’.
The main story of ‘The Beautiful People’ is about the Doctor, Romana and K-9 visiting the Vita Novus Health Spa in the 32nd century. There, everyone is trying to slim themselves to size. But an orange-skinned woman is about to wipe out all fat people. Can Romana with the Doctor and K-9 stop her?
‘The Beautiful People’ predates ‘Partners In Crime’ by Russell T. Davies with its themes of weight loss and fat people in it. I enjoyed the concepts in this adventure. It does suit the Douglas Adams era superbly and is an interesting take by Jonny Morris on the theme set in the future on an alien planet.
I found it interesting how Romana copes on her own without the Doctor and K-9 in the second and third episodes of this story. Romana is the Doctor’s equal and she’s playing more of a Doctor role in this story, with Sibella Bing as her companion. I did like the confrontation scenes she has with Karna.
Lalla Ward’s version of Romana is cool and graceful, even in these audio adventures of ‘Doctor Who’. Lalla clearly enjoys reading this audio adventure, as it’s from the Douglas Adams era which was her favourite era of ‘Doctor Who‘. Her voice for this audio completes the Douglas Adams era very nicely.
I liked Lalla Ward’s reading of this story. I previously enjoyed Lalla’s readings of ‘Shada’ and ‘City of Death’ on audio in the novelizations of those TV stories. Somehow, I’m able to engage with Lalla when she reads a ‘Doctor Who’ audio. The Douglas Adams-styled writing helps to that effect as well.
I do enjoy Lalla’s impersonation of Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor in this adventure. It’s not an exact voice of Tom Baker, but it’s easily recognisable as him. I liked it when Lalla spoke the Doctor’s lines with his humorous about ‘doughnuts’ and “What?!” all the time, as Jonny Morris writes well for him.
K-9 makes an appearance in this audio. I was sad that John Leeson didn’t provide the voice for K-9 in this one. Lalla does her best to voice K-9, although she doesn’t do the silly sounding voice like John Leeson does it. K-9 has his comedy moments in this one and Romana says he’s having his adventure.
Marcia Ashton guest stars as Karna, the over-the-top villainess of the story. I’ve seen Marcia before in the educational video drama ‘TravelWise‘. Mark J. Thompson obviously cast Marcia from previously working with him on that drama. It was great to hear her in this ‘Doctor Who’ audio story.
Karna is an interesting villainous character in the story. She sounds nice at first when she greets the Doctor, Romana and K-9 to the Vita Novus Health Spa. But as the story develops, she’s a truly nasty person and is very cruel to Romana and Sibella when she reveals to them what her so evil plans are.
There’s a supporting character called Sibella Bing in this adventure. I laughed when I heard her surname was Bing. I liked how Lalla voices Sibella. I didn’t think she was going to appear much in this story. But I liked it when she helps Romana and saves her from certain death throughout this story.
Sibella is at the Vita Novus Health Spa when the Doctor, Romana and K-9 meet her. But she’s not really into the fitness-and-health scheme as she always carries chocolate cakes to eat and share. She’s clearly a nice and dotty character, and I liked how she gets to be Romana’s companion in this.
There are robots called the Burn Droids in this adventure. I liked it when Lalla does the voices for them and they go ‘humpty-hump; humpty-hump’. The Burn Droids clearly get everyone fit by making them run on the spot. They also work for Karna and do nasty things when they get ordered by her.
I especially liked it in ‘Part Four’ when the Doctor and K-9 show up to save Romana and Sibella from Karna, after having being mostly absent from the story. I found it very funny when it transpires that the Doctor and K-9 were in the gift shop and Romana and Sibella have been in danger all of this time.
There are sadly no CD extras to be found for ‘The Beautiful People’. No trailers or behind-the-scenes interviews, I’m afraid. This is one of the very early ‘Companion Chronicles’ in the range by Big Finish. They would get popular later on with more CD extras including trailers and interviews with the cast.
‘The Beautiful People’ is a fantastic ‘Companion Chronicle’ of ‘Doctor Who’ and a great adventure from the Douglas Adams era. I liked how Jonathan Morris captures the Season 17 atmosphere in this story of his and enjoyed Lalla’s reading of this tale. I was captivated and engaged throughout no end.
‘The Beautiful People’ rating – 9/10
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