‘THE GREAT SPACE ELEVATOR’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Up the Great Space Elevator with Victoria, the Doctor and Jamie
For Deborah Watling
This is a really nice ‘Doctor Who Companion Chronicle’ to have!
‘The Great Space Elevator’ is a special Big Finish audio story that features Deborah Watling as Victoria Waterfield, companion of the Second Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’. I’ve enjoyed listening to this audio story when I purchased it back in early 2012. I believe it’s the first story for Debbie as Victoria with Big Finish.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Debbie Watling at conventions and I’ve had the CD cover of ‘The Great Space Elevator’ signed by her at the ‘Dimensions 2013’ convention in Newcastle, October 2013. This audio story is a treat to have and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it too with Debbie Watling performing.
For me, Victoria Waterfield is a companion I have sympathy for. At the time in 2012, most of Debbie’s stories were missing from the BBC Archives. You could only get to hear stories like ‘The Evil of the Daleks’, ‘The Abominable Snowmen’ and ‘Fury from the Deep’ on the audio CDs via the TV soundtracks.
The only full TV stories with Victoria in them at the time were ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ and ‘The Ice Warriors’, albeit the latter has two episodes missing with animated ones to fill the gaps. Things have changed since then, as ‘The Enemy of the World’ and most of ‘The Web of Fear’ were recovered in 2013.
Victoria also tended to be a poorly developed character. Sometimes she tended to scream a lot and always seemed to be a little scared girl when facing monsters. But what struck me about Victoria and Debbie’s performance was despite being scared a lot, Victoria kept on being brave and very resourceful.
She showed her resourcefulness and compassionate side in the face of danger. I wanted to discover more about this Victorian girl who travelled in the TARDIS and Big Finish have done wonders with providing this ‘Companion Chronicle’ story and some more tales later on to develop Victoria’s character.
I’ve had nice chats with Debbie Watling at conventions. I recall her enjoying reminiscing her ‘Doctor Who’ days and fond memories of working with Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines. I enjoyed sharing some of my favourite stories with Victoria like ‘The Evil of the Daleks’ and ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’.
I’m pleased Debbie signed the CD cover of ‘The Great Space Elevator’ for me and I’ve enjoyed chatting to her during signings; a drinks reception and mingles at conventions. I miss Debbie very much nowadays since she sadly passed away in July 2017. Deborah Watling will always hold a special place in my heart.
For ‘The Great Space Elevator’ by Jonathan Morris, this is a really good story for Victoria. I really like how Jonny touches upon Victoria recalling her adventures, particularly this one, after she’s finished travelling with the Doctor. It seems Victoria is now married; a mother and is soon to be a grandmother.
I found this very interesting as I wondered what happened to Victoria after she finished travelling in the TARDIS. It’s a shame we couldn’t hear more and have it developed in this audio. Victoria keeps holding to the memoires she has of her adventures with the Doctor and Jamie, as she recalls this story.
In ‘The Great Space Elevator’ story itself, the Doctor; Jamie and Victoria arrive on Sumatra in the far future on planet Earth. They’re captured by Tara Kerley and her security team who run a weather control station. Something strange is going on, as a space station linked to Sumatra has an emergency.
The Doctor; Jamie and Victoria join Tara on a trip up to the space station in the great space elevator. When they arrive at the top, they discover the space station crew have blank faces. It isn’t long until the Doctor and friends face a deadly force that controls the electricity and impulses of a coming storm.
I like how Debbie narrates the story from her perspective as Victoria. She tells the story with such a clear voice and has a calm, patient presence throughout. I think it’s fair to say Debbie’s not one for doing different voices on other characters, but at least she drives the plot in describing what’s going on.
I also like how Debbie plays Victoria with the same Victorian attitudes. Yet she has determination for not being left out and getting patronised by the Doctor and Jamie in being a mere girl. Debbie’s voice has changed since she is older and isn’t the younger person she once was in the series from the 1960s.
But Victoria’s spirit is still there and that’s what’s important. I liked it when Victoria describes her experience of going up the elevator. She’s terrified and finds it exhilarating and painful when going up. I liked it when Victoria recalls the Doctor telling her to hold the memories of their travels together.
I like how Debbie impersonates the Doctor and Jamie in this. Debbie has such fond memories working with Patrick Troughton that she brings across his reassuring and calming presence. This is especially when the Doctor introduces Jamie and Victoria to some of the characters in this story like Tara Kerley.
Debbie does well with Jamie. She doesn’t do a Scottish accent but you can tell it is Jamie with his “Aye!” and Scottish dialect throughout. I liked the fire alarm sequences when they’re in the lift as there’s the Troughton humour going into it. I can imagine that scene would’ve been funny had it been made for TV.
Helen Goldwyn guest stars as Tara Kerley, the security chief who captures the Doctor; Victoria and Jamie when they arrive on Sumatra. Tara’s a rather cold person without feeling. This is especially when she responds to a panicked crewman aboard the space station when there’s an emergency happening.
Tara leads the trip up in the space elevator with the Doctor; Jamie and Victoria to the space station. She gets infected and possessed by a strange alien that forms part of the collective of humans aboard the space station. I don’t think Tara’s a major supporting character but Helen gives a nice performance.
I liked the use of electricity put into the alien menace by Jonny Morris. It sounds very frightening, although I’m not entirely sure I know what this alien menace is. I like the concept of the space elevator in this as it put me in mind of the children’s book, ‘Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator’ by Roald Dahl.
The CD extras are as follows. There’s a trailer for ‘The Doll of Death’ with Katy Manning as Jo Grant. Sadly there aren’t any behind-the-scenes interviews at the end of the disc. This is a shame as I would’ve liked to have heard Debbie’s thoughts on this tale. This gets made up for in later ‘Companion Chronicles’.
I’ve truly enjoyed Deborah Watling’s first ‘Companion Chronicle’ as Victoria. ‘The Great Space Elevator’ has been a delightful listen with a nice story by Jonny Morris and is well directed by Nigel Fairs. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this audio story too as it’s full of nostalgia with Victoria; the Second Doctor and Jamie.
I’ve written for Victoria in one of my own ‘Doctor Who’ stories called ‘The Robots of Lonmar’. I’m glad I’ve done so, as I hold very special fond memories of Deborah Watling. Please feel free to check it out!
‘The Great Space Elevator’ rating – 8/10
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