‘THE DEVIL’S ARMADA’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Devil’s Armada with the Doctor and Leela
‘The Devil’s Armada’ is a four-part adventure and is on the fourth and fifth discs of the ‘Philip Hinchcliffe Presents’ box set.
This is an enjoyable historical adventure set in 16th century England. I liked the story’s atmosphere, influenced by ‘The Masque of Mandragora’ and mixed with gothic elements.
The Doctor and Leela arrive in a time of crisis where Catholic priests are being persecuted and women are accused for being witches. But England faces an armada deadlier than the Spanish…
I liked how Christian/Catholic religious aspects were addressed in this story. This story has similar elements of ‘Mandragora’ in it, which Philip Hinchcliffe regards as one of his favourites from his era.
Marc Platt does well in adapting this adventure that depicts a demonic invasion threatening England as well as the Spanish armada. The Doctor faced the Spanish armada before in ‘The Flames of Cadiz’.
Tom Baker delivers a superb performance as the Doctor. I really enjoyed it when the Doctor bluffs his way to William Redcliffe at the beginning with his ‘common’ accent, giving Tom a chance to act.
I liked how the Doctor uncovers what goes on with the two invasions against England and how he reacts with the Catholic and witch persecutions. His scenes with the Vituperon are so mesmerising.
Louise Jameson is also superb as Leela. I can see why Louise considered this story as the best out of this box set, since it defines Leela’s finest qualities in being brave; loyal and strong as well as savage.
Leela is excited when a battle between the English and the Spanish takes place and she wants to be involved. Her scenes with the Doctor are awe-inspiring, as they challenge and care for each other.
The guest cast are also superb. There’s Jamie Newall as William Redcliffe. Redcliffe is an obsessive fanatic witch finder who does things in the Queen Elizabeth’s name and is ruthless and unforgiving.
There’s Nigel Carrington as Sir Robert Harney. He’s a member of the Queen’s Navy and a Catholic. He’s also the father of two children and he helps the Doctor and Leela to sort out a great menace.
There’s Alix Dunmore as Anne Harney, Sir Robert’s daughter. Anne is a sensitive soul who can sense and see the evil spirits as imps. She gets terrified and looks for comfort with his brother and father.
There’s Joe Jameson (no relation of Louise, I don’t think) as Nicholas Harney, Sir Robert’s son. He saves the Doctor and Leela as well as a so-called witch and he is in love with Lady Jane Mountville.
Beth Chalmers (who has appeared in numerous Big Finish audios) plays two characters in this story. She guest stars as Mistress Pincham, a woman accused for being a witch; and Lady Jane Mountville.
Tim Bentinck (who also has appeared in numreous Big Finish audios) also plays two characters in this story. He plays Ned Bones, one of the village rabble accusing Pincham as a witch; and Lord Burghley.
The monsters are the evil Vituperon, voiced by Philip Bretherton. They are horn-like beings from another dimension impersonating the devil. They’re pretty terrifying when controlling the humans.
‘The Devil’s Armada’ is very like ‘The Masque of Mandragora’, full of eerie; unnerving proportions. But I enjoyed listening to this story and it’s a great historical adventure with the Doctor and Leela.
On Disc 6 of this box set, there’s an hour-long behind-the-scenes documentary looking into the making of these two stories from the Philip Hinchcliffe era on audio. It was amazing to listen to the fascinating insight of how these stories were created both from the cast and crew’s point of view.
There’s an interview with Philip Hinchcliffe who discusses the creation of this box set and how he devised the two stories with Big Finish. There’s also an interview with writer Marc Platt who discusses how he enjoyed working with Philip Hinchcliffe and how he adapted his stories for audio.
There are also interviews with Tom Baker and Louise Jameson. I liked how the two express their enjoyment of working with Philip Hinchcliffe again. Tom mentions that working for Big Finish makes him happy and Louise makes some fascinating comments about Leela and the actors she works with.
The documentary focuses on each of the two stories in the ‘Philip Hinchcliffe Presents’ box set in turn. I liked how the development of the two stories is delved into and there are interviews with the guest casts.
For ‘The Ghosts of Gralstead’, there are cast interviews with Carolyn Seymour; Gethin Anthony; Martin Huston; Alan Cox; Ivanno Jeremiah; etc. For ‘The Devil’s Armada’, there are cast interviews with Philip Bretherton; Jamie Newall; Nigel Carrington; Beth Chalmers; Tim Bentinck; etc.
It was nice to hear the guest actors/actresses sharing how they enjoying working with Tom Baker in these two stories. Some also share the fond memories of watching Tom Baker’s Doctor in the 70s. I can imagine it must be fun working with Tom in a Big Finish studio and hearing his jokes and stories.
I was saddened that there weren’t any tracks of incidental music for each story of the ‘Philip Hinchcliffe Presents’ box set. This would have been nice to enjoy and reflect at the end of each story.
‘Philip Hinchcliffe Presents’ has been a fantastic box set to listen to. Tom Baker and Louise Jameson are fantastic as the Doctor and Leela in these two great stories from the mind of Philip Hinchcliffe. If you want gothic-styled adventures with Tom Baker, this the definite box set from that era for you!
I’m pleased I’ve listened to this Tom Baker ‘Doctor Who’ box set at last! It has taken some time since I had it for Christmas in 2014. But it’s been worth getting around to, as I’ve enjoyed these stories. Let’s hope that a ‘Philip Hinchcliffe Presents 2’ box set with the Doctor and Leela will get made soon.
‘The Devil’s Armada’ rating – 9/10
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