‘BLACK AND WHITE’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Ace and Hex with Lysandra and Sally
Wow! Four companions of the Seventh era! Quadruple wow!
‘Black and White’ is the second story of this linked White/Black TARDIS trilogy with Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor. Following on directly after ‘Protect and Survive’, I couldn’t wait to hear this four-part adventure by Matt Fitton and find out what happened as Ace and Hex meet Lysandra and Sally.
At the end of ‘Protect and Survive’, Ace and Hex ran into the Black TARDIS to find Lysandra and Sally there. The first episode specifically focuses on Ace and Hex’s reaction to Lysandra and Sally and why they’re in the TARDIS. Apparently Lysandra and Sally have been travelling with the Doctor for a time.
This story resolves some unanswered questions from previous Seventh Doctor audios. The mystery is solved on why the TARDIS was white from ‘The Angel of Scutari’ to ‘Lurkers at Sunlight’s Edge’ and why the TARDIS was black during ‘Robophobia’, ‘The Doomsday Quatrain’ and ‘House of Blue Fire’.
It turns out that the solo Seventh Doctor trilogy from ‘Robophobia’ to ‘House of Blue Fire’ took place between ‘Lurkers at Sunlight’s Edge’ and ‘Protect and Survive’. The Black TARDIS was actually grown from the White TARDIS by the Doctor, so that he can have adventures without Ace and Hex joining him.
This story features two TARDISes. There’s the White TARDIS with Ace and Hex and the Black TARDIS with Lysandra and Sally. I liked the opening episode where Ace, Hex, Lysandra and Sally interact with each other since they’re antagonistic; wonder where the Doctor’s gone and why they’re in the dark.
This story is fantastic as it heads a superb cast of companions with Sophie Aldred as Ace and Philip Oliver as Hex with Maggie O’Neill as Captain Lysandra Aristedes and Amy Pemberton as Private Sally Morgan. It’s like a Seventh Doctor box of delights for those who’ve listened to the Big Finish audios.
Lysandra and Sally have of course appeared in ‘Doctor Who’ before in previous stories. Lysandra first appeared in ‘Project: Destiny’ where she was a member of the dodgy Forge. Sally first appeared in ‘House of Blue Fire’ where she met the Doctor and she was invited to join him at the end of the tale.
Sylvester McCoy, like ‘Protect and Survive’, again barely features in this story due to working in New Zealand on ‘The Hobbit’ film trilogy. His appearances in this story are mostly flashbacks to how he recruited Lysandra and Sally in the first place and what his involvement is in the events of this story.
There are also flashback scenes that interlink previous adventures before this story. Firstly, there’s a link between ‘Lurkers at Sunlight’s Edge’ to ‘Robophobia’; then a link between ‘Robophobia’ to ‘The Doomsday Quatrain’ and of course a link between ‘The Doomsday Quatrain’ to ‘House of Blue Fire’.
Despite distrusting each other at first, the four companions need to work together in order to learn where the Doctor is. They split up as Ace and Lysandra travel in the Black TARDIS to Beowulf’s time as the young man whilst Hex and Sally travel in the White TARDIS to Beowulf’s time as an older man.
Sophie Aldred delivers a superb performance as Ace here. Ace doesn’t like it when she sees Lysandra and Sally in the Black TARDIS together. Ace winds Lysandra up when they’re together and she mocks her efficient manner. I liked the connection Ace makes with both young and old versions of Beowulf.
Philip Oliver is terrific as Hex. He doesn’t like it when he and the ladies are left in the dark and is angry with the Doctor. I really liked it when Hex gets on well with Sally and there’s flirting between them. The two work together when the White TARDIS takes them to Beowulf’s time as an old man.
Maggie O’Neill is great as Lysandra here. She’s no longer working for the Forge and takes Sally under her wing. She comes across as a strong-willed and forthright woman, taking charge. She tolerates Ace’s impulsive behaviour and she does some investigating of her own when finding Garundel’s lair.
Amy Pemberton is lovely as Sally Morgan. I was pleased to hear Sally again following ‘House of Blue Fire’ and it was interesting how she compares with Lysandra. Both Sally and Lysandra know each other well by this point and she delivers the caring and compassionate side compared with Lysandra.
This story’s setting of course takes place during the time of Beowulf in the Anglo-Saxon times. I’m not very familiar with the Beowulf poem and I’m only aware of it as the inspiration for Rohan in ‘The Lord of the Rings’. But it was interesting learning about Beowulf and how it is depicted in this story.
Matt Fitton delivers an intriguing take on this Beowulf story which I enjoyed. There are two actors who play Beowulf during this story. There’s Michael Rouse who plays the younger Beowulf that Ace and Lysandra meet and there’s also Richard Bremmer as the older Beowulf that Hex and Sally meet.
The villain is Stuart Milligan, well-known from ‘The Impossible Astronaut’/’Day of the Moon’ as Garundel. Garundel is a toad-like creature called an Urdodelian with an American accent. He’s a dodgy character that the Doctor and his companions meet who builds robots and threatens people.
At the end of the story, the four companions meet up in the Black TARDIS with the White TARDIS inside. The Doctor sends them a message and the White TARDIS turns blue again. All four companions go off inside the blue TARDIS to find the Doctor whilst the black TARDIS crumbles away.
‘Black and White’ has been a fantastic audio adventure to listen to with four companions teaming up in it. I wondered what was going to happen next and what they will find when they meet the Doctor again. Will he answer all of their and our questions? Will it be dangerous? Only one way to find out!
The title of this story refers to the White TARDIS and Black TARDIS in this story. But ‘Black and White’ also means the colours of chess pieces on a chessboard. In an epilogue sequence, the Doctor is playing a chess game with this deadly enemy. That can mean only one thing, can’t it? Fenric is back!
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there’s a suite of incidental music to enjoy. At the end of Disc 2, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with cast and crew. These include Sylvester McCoy; Sophie Aldred; Philip Olivier; Maggie O’Neill, Amy Pemberton and director Ken Bentley.
If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘Black and White’ via a 6 or 12 CD/Download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There is a PDF script and extended extras of ‘Black and White’.
There’s a trailer for the next story with the Doctor, Ace, Hex, Lysandra and Sally called ‘Gods and Monsters’.
‘Black and White’ rating – 9/10
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For the Seventh Doctor was
For Ace was
For Hex was
For Lysandra was
For Sally was
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For the Seventh Doctor is
For Ace is
For Hex is
For Lysandra is
For Sally is
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