‘THE WRATH OF THE ICENI’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Leela meets Boudica
This is a proper historical adventure with the Fourth Doctor and Leela!
I really enjoyed this two-part adventure! ‘The Wrath of the Iceni’ is a good piece of character drama between Tom Baker as the Doctor and Louise Jameson as Leela about the rules of changing history. It’s also a story where Leela meets Boudica, warrior queen of the Britons! What a chance meeting!
I’ve had my CD cover of ‘The Wrath of the Iceni’ signed by the lovely Louise Jameson, who I’ve met at conventions. I’ve had it signed at the ‘Regenerations 2013’ convention in Swansea, September 2013. I told Louise how much I enjoyed listening to her as Leela on audio. Louise mentioned that her favourite out of these stories she did in this first season with Tom Baker was ‘The Wrath of the Iceni’.
This two-part adventure is by John Dorney, who writes well for Leela’s character. It focuses on Leela’s savagery and her warrior instincts being put to the test when she meets Boudica. I was impressed with this audio tale. This is definitely a pure historical adventure with Tom Baker’s Doctor.
In the story, the Doctor and Leela arrive in Norfolk, c. 60 AD, during the Roman occupation of Britain. They bump into Boudica, who is the warrior queen of the Britons. The Doctor discovers they have arrived before the events of a pretty brutal massacre put on the Romans by Boudica and the Iceni.
Now I’ll be honest with you, I had never heard of Boudica before; nor did I know much about the Roman occupation of Britain. But after seeing a segment of ‘Horrible Histories’ with Boudica and discovering this audio drama, I got to learn more about who Boudica was and how significant she is.
She’s certainly a formidable woman and one of the most pretty violent historical characters to discover in a ‘Doctor Who’ story. Boudica’s violent tendencies are explored and explained as to why she hates the Romans so much in terms of what she had suffered beforehand with loss of her family.
Boudica is the perfect historical character for Leela to meet, since they share things in common being warriors. But John Dorney does a terrific story in turning the character relationship on its head by making Leela witness some of the horrible things Boudica does and reacting to it with animosity.
There’s obviously tension and friction between the Doctor and Leela in this one. Leela doesn’t seem to listen to the Doctor about Boudica and abandons him to join her in her fight against the Romans. But gradually she becomes horrified by what Boudica does during the Roman massacre. Leela finds herself fighting the warrior queen in protest to the atrocious and very horrible things that she does.
I really like how the Doctor and Leela’s relationship is tensed up when history divides them regarding Boudica. It’s a similar situation between the First Doctor and Barbara in ‘The Aztecs’ and the Tenth Doctor and Donna in ‘The Fires of Pompeii’ when dealing with the consequences of changing history.
This is one of Leela’s strongest outings. I really like how Leela’s savagery and warrior instincts are touched on. Leela’s the noble savage and at first seems to admire Boudica being a warrior queen. She becomes sympathetic with Boudica on what she has been through in the past with the Romans.
There’s a moment when Leela seems to be make some nasty threats to the Doctor when he’s tied up. But it turns out she was slipping a knife to him to cut himself free. It’s portrayed well for audio. I also like how Louise plays Leela in this one and it is clear she puts a lot of thought into the character.
Tom Baker is great as ever as the Doctor. This is a different type of story he’s doing here, since it’s a pure historical adventure. Tom does the dealing with history scenes very well since he’s echoing what William Hartnell did in his TV stories with the “You can’t re-write history, not one line” attitude.
I like how Tom’s Doctor gains a new friend in Bragnar when the two get caught and tied up by Boudica and eventually manage to escape in order to rescue Leela. I found the game-making between them pretty amusing. The Doctor comes up with the same thing for ‘eye-spy’ or ‘charades’.
Tom’s Doctor also uses humour pretty well when bluffing to Boudica and those who threaten him. I found it a frighteningly tense and a moving moment when Boudica threatens Bragnar’s life and the Doctor to give her information about the future to save Bragnar’s life, which is played out really well.
Ella Kenion (from ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’) guest stars as Boudica. I liked Ella’s performance as Boudica, as it’s pretty bold; fiery and exactly how I expected Boudica to sound. Boudica has had a rough history, especially concerning the death of her husband and children and how she hates the Romans.
Nia Roberts (from ‘The Hungry Earth’/’Cold Blood’) guest stars as Bragnar, a member of Boudica’s tribe. This audio starts and ends with Bragner telling the story of meeting the Doctor and Leela. She forms an unlikely friendship with the Doctor who saves her from Boudica when threatening her life.
The action scenes are pretty captivating. The fight scenes between the Romans and Britons are very effective. Two actors Michael Rouse and Daniel Hawksford get to play Romans and Iceni warriors at the same time and I can imagine the fiery burnings and battles with the Iceni attacking the Romans.
The story’s end is very moving, as Leela finally realises Boudica is not the good woman she believed her to be and they fight it out with each other with swords. As the Doctor rescues her, Leela turns out to be the strongest woman before Boudica since she doesn’t kill her as we might expect her to.
‘The Wrath of the Iceni’ has been a great ‘Doctor Who’ story to listen to. I think it’s one of the best ones to feature the Fourth Doctor and Leela with such a strong character-driven plot and is certainly a favourite of Louise Jameson’s. I’m sure you will enjoy this adventure with Leela meeting Boudica.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of this disc, there are some behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew including director Ken Bentley, Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Ella Kenion, Nia Roberts, writer John Dorney, etc.
There’s a trailer for the next story with the Doctor and Leela called ‘Energy of the Daleks’.
‘The Wrath of the Iceni’ rating – 9/10
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