‘The Quest of the Engineer’ (Audio)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

An Adventure in E-Space with the Engineer

After what I felt were the underwhelming efforts of ‘The Planet of Witches’, I was pleased to find ‘The Quest of the Engineer’ to be a huge improvement. I greatly enjoyed this compelling adventure!

‘The Quest of the Engineer’ is a four-part adventure by Andrew Smith. Andrew is no stranger to E-Space. He wrote the first story of the original E-Space trilogy called ‘Full Circle’ that introduced Adric.

He’s also written ‘The Invasion of E-Space’ and ‘Mistfall’, both set in that universe, for Big Finish. So in a sense, ‘The Quest of the Engineer’ has brought Andrew back…ahem…full circle…in the series. 😀

Not only does he write a fourth ‘Doctor Who’ story set in E-Space, but he writes again for his first TARDIS team of the Fourth Doctor, Romana, Adric and K-9. And he writes for them brilliantly here. 🙂

In ‘The Quest of the Engineer’, the TARDIS team are still trying to find a way out of E-Space. They come to this planet called Lidar where they meet a wily old astronomer – George Layton as Regis Tel.

George Layton also isn’t a stranger to ‘Doctor Who’. He was in ‘The Space Pirates’ on TV and ‘The Havoc of Empires’ on audio. According to the CD extras, George and Tom Baker go way back here. 🙂

It’s amusing how the story began with the Doctor, Romana and K-9 freeing Adric from prison as well as Regis Tel. Regis has shared warnings about an approaching doom. The TARDIS team listen to him.

Regis Tel joins the Doctor, Romana, Adric and K-9 in the TARDIS and they both discover a planet-sized spaceship upon them. The spaceship belongs to Nicholas Woodeson as the villainous Engineer.

I enjoyed hearing the Engineer as a villain in this audio adventure. He starts off being a villain with no morals, wanting to invade a planet to acquire slaves before more backstory gets revealed about him.

It was also interesting to hear the Engineer’s planet ship and how it functioned with its parts constantly changing. The Doctor, Romana, Adric, K-9 and Regis do find themselves getting separated.

As I listened to this story, I couldn’t help think of elements of ‘The Pirate Planet’ involved in this somewhere. This is especially as the Engineer’s planet ship devours other planets and their peoples.

Tom Baker and Richard Hansell in ‘The Quest of the Engineer’.

Tom Baker is brilliant as the Doctor in this audio adventure. I enjoyed how he uses his wits and tackles the Engineer’s dangerous plans to conquer a planet. His fierceness also comes through here.

I like how these Big Finish audios allow Tom Baker’s Doctor to be the action hero. This is especially the case in the Season 18 era audios where he was sombre and distant. I’m happy he gets attention.

Lalla Ward is equally enjoyable as Romana in this audio. She gets separated from the Doctor for most of the story and interacts with the Engineer a lot. Romana does get some nice scenes with K-9.

I also liked how Romana gets to be resourceful and in charge, especially in times of crisis. This is when she and Regis Tel team up and deal with the tricky situation regarding the robot-like Enforcers.

K-9 voiced by John Leeson is great to listen to on audio. I like how K-9 gets to have some witty remarks in the story as opposed to standard K-9 lines where he’s usually robotic and routine mostly.

There is an instance where K-9 is knocked out towards the end of ‘Part Three’. I did wonder if Andrew Smith would have him absent during ‘Part Four’, but thankfully K-9 came back triumphantly.

Matthew Waterhouse is equally great as Adric in this adventure. Whilst Romana and K-9 are away, Adric spends a lot of time with the Doctor and Regis early on. Adric demonstrates how brave he is. 🙂

Adric also isn’t a whiner so much as he is in other stories. He can be resourceful, especially when he and Regis are together. Adric also witnesses the horrors that the Engineer causes during an invasion.

The rest of the cast also includes Sarah Woodward as Ania Jessik who teams up with the Doctor, Adric and Regis. And there’s Timothy Blore playing Jonas, who is the Engineer’s second-in-command.

The robot-like Enforcers, voiced by Richard Hansell, are mechanical servants of the Engineer. They can be like shock troops in the story. They can also be easily controlled by the Doctor in ‘Part Four’. 🙂

The story concludes with the Doctor, Romana, K-9 and Adric stopping the Engineer’s invasion and saving a certain planet. They soon head off in the TARDIS and continue finding a way out of E-Space.

From left to right: George Layton, producer David Richardson, Sarah Woodward, director Nicholas Briggs, Tom Baker, engineer/composer/sound designer Joe Meiners, Jane Slavin, Richard Hansell, Matthew Waterhouse and writer Andrew Smith.

I enjoyed ‘The Quest of the Engineer’ very much. This has been a thrilling story featuring the Fourth Doctor, Romana, Adric and K-9 who work well as a TARDIS team compared to what’s in the TV series.

The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Discs 1 and 2, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew. The interviewees include Tom Baker, Lalla Ward, Matthew Waterhouse, John Leeson, director Nicholas Briggs, writer Andrew Smith, etc.

I’ve greatly enjoyed Series 9 of ‘The Fourth Doctor Adventures’ by Big Finish. The four stories have been very enjoyable in each measure and it was fascinating to hear how ‘The E-Space Trilogy’ has expanded to become ‘The E-Space Season’, which is something that I’ve hoped for in a long while. 🙂

I like how the Fourth Doctor, Romana, K-9 and Adric have fleshed out as characters in audio compared to how they were teamed up in Season 18 on TV. There may be more adventures to come featuring this TARDIS team by Big Finish. At present, let’s hope they can find a way out of E-Space. 😀

‘The Quest of the Engineer’ rating – 9/10

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6 thoughts on “‘The Quest of the Engineer’ (Audio)

  1. Timelord 007

    Blimey Tim your puns are getting as bad as mine although i did laugh at ”Andrew Smith coming full circle” lol.

    I hadn’t noticed before you mentioned it in your review but i agree there are elements to The Pirate Planet in this story which again writer Andrew Smith delivers a cracker of a story filled with great character drama via Engineers backstory & exciting plot.

    Top notch performances with Tom Baker especially on tip top form giving a far more engaging & energetic performance than his moody sombre performances seen in Season 18.

    Excellent review Bang on the money my friend & this story definitely merits a 9/10 rating.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon.

      Yeah, sorry. That ‘full circle’ pun. I couldn’t help resist adding it into my review. 😀

      I’m glad you agree with me that there are elements of ‘The Pirate Planet’ featured in this story. I don’t mind that so much as Andrew Smith writes well for the Fourth Doctor, Romana, Adric and K-9 and he manages to keep my interest in how stories turn out. He’s on the same level as Jonathan Morris and John Dorney in my humble opinion. 🙂

      I do find Tom Baker is enjoying ‘Doctor Who’ more in these Big Finish audio dramas compared to how he was making Season 18 on TV back in 1980-81. I certainly enjoyed his performances in these E-Space audio stories with Romana, Adric and K-9.

      Many thanks for your comments, Simon.

      Tim. 🙂


    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Yes! Exciting news! I’m looking forward to that!

      I’m also looking forward to the next Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Marc CD by Finish which features the Slitheen. Interesting. 😀

      Tim. 🙂


  2. helenofvulcan

    I felt this production had a lot of very original ideas in it; the idea of the Engineer’s ship was really cool – that it was so versatile and could alter configuration in such a way was brilliant and I worried for the safety of the TARDIS team as a result.

    The script flowed very nicely, although the writers seem keen on separating Romana & K9, teaming them up most of the time. Hopefully there will be more audios in E-Space, and perhaps other combinations will come up more often. However, I enjoyed the various interactions the regulars had with the other major characters; Regis was a gem and gave us a focus on the weirdness of the situation which the TARDIS team took as par for the course. His mixture of fascination and horror was pitched beautifully.

    I also liked the way that the Fourth Doctor gets to be a bit more of the action hero, too, which balances out his more intellectual heroics in the rest of the ‘E-Space Season’.

    Romana’s scenes with the Engineer are very clever; for a lot of it, the Engineer doesn’t seem very villainous… but he was given to sudden bursts of fury, undermining the stable impression he had previously offered and I felt he was quite an intimidating character. There was an unpredictability about him which added to the danger, and also a sadistic streak which again made me worry for Team TARDIS.

    My only big complaint was that the contents of his cabinet was terribly predictable. The deep-freeze wife is really overdone, now, and I think a different motivation would have worked much better, especially since the story already had plenty in it.

    I found the final decision of Jonas very touching, though… it put me in mind of the Edwards in ‘Contingency Club’, managing to be quite sweet without being too saccharine.

    I’m also looking forward to Ten teaming up with Four, and with Five. It puts my next lot of BF downloads back to June, I think (unless there’s a sale in the meantime), but it looks as though we’re going to be in for some great stuff. 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Helen.

      Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘The Quest of the Engineer’ and glad you enjoyed the story itself. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.

      Andrew Smith does write really good ‘Doctor Who’ stories for audio. So far, he hasn’t disappointed me with any story he’s written and that includes both ‘Doctor Who’ and the ‘Star Cops’ episodes he’s written (though I’ve yet to hear the two ‘Mars’ box sets). I’ve only heard ‘The Quest of the Engineer’ once but I did enjoy the development of the Fourth Doctor, Adric, Romana and K-9 as a characters. Yes, it does seem repetitive with the Doctors and companions often splitting up into groups, but sometimes I don’t mind that as long as the story keeps me entertained and that’s what it did here for me when I heard it.

      I’ve reviewed ‘Out of Time’ with the Fourth Doctor and the Tenth Doctor already. I greatly enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to ‘The Gates of Hell’ with David Tennant and Peter Davison next as well as ‘Wink’ with David Tennant and Colin Baker in 2022.

      Thanks again for your comments and sharing your insight into ‘The Quest of the Engineer’.

      Tim. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person


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