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Polly’s Adventure in World War II
This is a pure historical adventure from the Second Doctor era of ‘Doctor Who’!
‘Resistance’ was the first Companion Chronicle by Big Finish to feature Anneke Wills as Polly from ‘Doctor Who’. Anneke had played Charlotte Pollard’s mother in the Big Finish audios with the Eighth Doctor, but this was the very first time she reprised her role from the TV show in the 1960s for 2009.
This is a two-part adventure by Steve Lyons, who clearly considers Polly and Ben as his favourite companions from ‘Doctor Who’. It’s ironic that Steve would consider Polly and Ben as his favourites, considering that most of their TV stories are missing. Some stories are now completed by animation.
Steve Lyons writes well for the Second Doctor era with Polly as the main character as well as setting the story in the Second World War. This isn’t the first time Steve Lyons has penned a story in World War II, as he wrote ‘Coldtiz’. I also enjoyed his story for the Fifth Doctor team in ‘Smoke and Mirrors’.
I’ve met Anneke Wills at ‘Doctor Who’ conventions and have enjoyed chatting to her. She’s truly enthusiastic about playing Polly in ‘Doctor Who’ whenever I see her at conventions. It’s great she’s able to maintain that energy and enthusiastic from the TV series when she plays Polly for Big Finish.
In this ‘Doctor Who’ story, we have the Doctor, Polly, Ben and Jamie visiting occupied France during the Second World War in February 1944. The story takes place during Season 4 of ‘Doctor Who’, between ‘The Macra Terror’ and ‘The Faceless Ones’. This is narrated by Polly from her point of view.
I found this an interesting ‘Doctor Who’ story, especially as it deals with Polly’s reaction to World War II and is also considered a pure historical adventure. Had this been made for TV, this would one of the historical adventures after ‘The Highlanders’, which was considered the last pure historical TV adventure from the 1960s.
It’s clear that Anneke Wills loves the historical adventures of ‘Doctor Who’, with her favourite story being ‘The Smugglers’. Sometimes the historical adventures are considered ‘boring’ by the general public. But as this was a story from Polly’s point of view, it also develops her character very uniquely.
In the story, Polly and the Doctor get separated from Ben and Jamie for most of the time they spent in occupied France. This allows the story to focus on Polly’s relationship with the Doctor and not have Ben and Jamie hamper the story. I thought the story would focus more on Ben and Polly in this.
During the story, Polly and the Doctor come across a pilot who crashed his plane and is a member of a resistance group opposing the French Gestapo called the Milice. Polly soon comes to realise that the pilot is personally connected to her. Will Polly attempt to make a difference during World War II.
I find Anneke Wills’ narration of this story very enjoyable to listen to. This story is read by Polly in the present day rather than years later as with many Companion Chronicles by Big Finish. This was refreshing and there wasn’t any need to think of Polly reading as an older person through this audio.
It was interesting hearing Polly’s thoughts about how she reacted to the horrors of World War II. It seems she’s more comfortable with facing Daleks and Cybermen rather than the horrors of the Nazis on Earth. It paints Polly well when she feels threatened by human monsters instead of alien threats.
I also found it interesting when it’s revealed that Polly has a family, which she left behind to travel in the TARDIS. Polly mentions having brothers and sisters and also mentions she has an uncle fighting in the war named Randolph Wright. As the story develops, Polly may find herself meeting her uncle.
I like the World War II setting when I listened to the story. Some of the atmosphere created in World War II in occupied France put me in mind of ‘Family At War’ rather than ”Allo, ‘Allo’. It was interesting to discover what went on in 1940s and who the French version of the Nazi Gestapo was.
The story’s narration is shared between Anneke Wills and John Sackville, who guest stars as the Pilot. When the story starts, we have the Pilot narrating when he crash-lands to France in his plane. There are times when the Pilot pops in now and again to narrate his story whilst Polly gets to narrate hers.
The Pilot is an interesting character, as I wondered who he was and his role was in the story. By the end of ‘Part One’, he reveals his name as Randolph Wright. Polly gradually becomes shocked when she comes to believe that the Pilot is her uncle. It becomes hard for her resist saving her uncle here.
Randolph Wright had been mentioned in ‘Doctor Who’ before in the ‘Virgin Missing Adventures’ novel, ‘Invasion of the Cat People’. In the story, Polly reveals that her uncle was missing, presumed dead, when he was fighting in the war. Polly is determined to make a difference by changing the outcome.
It was interesting to find that Polly doesn’t want to reveal to the Doctor that the Pilot is her uncle. This is done because Polly knows the Doctor won’t let her to make a difference and change history. But as it turns out, the Doctor knows that the Pilot is Polly’s uncle already as he heard the surname.
However, there is another twist when Polly has a scene with her uncle ‘Randolph’ on the train. It turns out that ‘Randolph’ is an imposter and not Polly’s real uncle at all. This was a surprise and I wondered whether the Pilot met Polly’s real uncle in the war and he used his own name against him.
This of course upsets Polly when she finds out and she gets separated far away from the Doctor, Ben and Polly. It was nice to hear Polly reflecting how she wasn’t able to make a difference and is hoping to see Ben’s face again. It’s so clear from Polly’s point of view that she loves Ben when in the TARDIS.
By the story’s end, Polly soon gets rescued by the Doctor, Ben and Jamie who come in disguise as French Gestapo. It was a delight to hear the Doctor, Ben and Jamie turns up at the end, especially when Ben and Jamie have been absent for most of the story. They soon journey back to the TARDIS.
I like how the story ends with the Doctor telling Polly that she made him the man who he is today. It clearly shows how much the Doctor values Polly as his faithful companion since ‘The Power of the Daleks’. This would get addressed again when the Fifth Doctor meets Polly in ‘The Five Companions’.
The CD extras are as follows. There’s a trailer for ‘The Magician’s Oath’ with Richard Franklin as Mike Yates. There are also behind-the-scenes interviews with Anneke Wills, John Sackville and director Lisa Bowerman, conducted by producer David Richardson on this story which I enjoyed hearing.
‘Resistance’ has been enjoyable historical adventure with Polly and the Doctor in the Second World War. It was interesting to learn more about Polly’s character and her family, how she meets her ‘uncle’ and how she attempts to make a difference. It is a tense and atmospheric story throughout.
‘Resistance’ rating – 7/10
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