‘PROTECT AND SURVIVE’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Ace and Hex without the Doctor
This is a great story featuring two ‘Doctor Who’ companions!
‘Protect and Survive’ is another gripping audio adventure of the Seventh Doctor era. It’s a rather unusual story since the Doctor is absent for most of the adventure and it focuses mainly on Ace and Hex. I did wonder where the Doctor was during this story and why he had abandoned Ace and Hex in this.
Due to Sylvester McCoy’s work commitments as Radagast the Brown in ‘The Hobbit’ film trilogy filmed in New Zealand, this story had to accommodate his absence. It also allows Sophie Aldred and Philip Olivier to take centre stage as Ace and Hex and to have meatier parts to play with in the story.
This is a four-part adventure by Jonathan Morris. I like Jonny’s writing in ‘Doctor Who’ as he delivers another witty and clever story with unusual twists and turns involved. He also deliver a rather dark story since Ace and Hex find themselves coping without the Doctor and in the midst of the Cold War.
Ace and Hex are in the White TARDIS and the Doctor’s gone missing. They arrive somewhere in the north of England and meet a married couple called Alfred and Peggy Marsden in their little house. Ace and Hex find themselves marooned on Earth, in the midst of the Cold War and have to survive.
The title of this story refers to the public information service series that was given to people by the government on how to protect themselves in the event of a nuclear attack. Jonny Morris recollects the experiences of the threat during the 1980s and he writes it in this story of his with Ace and Hex.
I’m not really familiar with the ‘protect and survive’ scheme since I was born in 1989 and the Cold War approached its end by that point. But it was interesting to listen to and to discover how much scaremongering there was to the possibility of a nuclear attack from both power blocks at that time.
Jonny Morris also presents a human element. The story features a small cast as Ace and Hex meet Alfred and Peggy and go through the experience of getting undercover in a bunker during the nuclear attack. It sounds like World War II again but is worse as it could be possibly be World War III.
I was pleased to find that Ace and Hex had a meatier story without the Doctor. Both look out for each other and find out what is going on and why they’ve ended up during this nuclear attack. Their relationship develops as they’re like brother and sister, both clashing and being fond of each other.
Sophie Aldred delivers a superb performance as Ace in this. I liked it that Ace takes a leadership role compared to Hex. Ace has confidence that the Doctor will come and rescue her and Hex when they’re caught in a loop of time with Alfred and Peggy. I liked it when she is so caring to Hex at times.
Philip Olivier also delivers an equally brilliant performance as Hex. Hex gets temporarily blinded when looking at a nuclear blast by accident. It was interesting how Hex is sceptical about the Doctor coming back for him and Ace, since he seems to have a problem with trusting the Doctor nowadays.
I liked the performances of the guest cast during this story including Ian Hogg, Elizabeth Bennett and Peter Egan. These cast members add something really special to this story and make it dramatic. They also add something surreal especially concerning some revelations about two of the characters.
Ian Hogg guest stars as Albert Marsden. Ian appeared in ‘Doctor Who’ before with Sylvester and Sophie in ‘Ghost Light’. Albert is a nice, friendly gentleman that Ace and Hex meet. He loves his wife Peggy and digs up the garden filling it with cardboard boxes. But it turns out Albert isn’t as he seems.
Elizabeth Bennett guest stars as Peggy Marsden, Albert’s wife. I liked Elizabeth’s performance as Peggy, who is a gentle, slightly elderly woman who loves her husband and makes cups of tea for him. Her scenes with Albert in the bunker are touching. It transpires that Peggy is not as she seems either.
Peter Egan guest stars as the radio announcer, who gives instructions to people on how to ‘protect and survive’. I know Peter for playing Paul Ryman in the BBC sitcom ‘Ever Decreasing Circles’ with Richard Briers. Peter’s voice is so calmly creepy to listen to when he speaks as the radio announcer.
Peter also plays Moloch, the oldest and most powerful of the Elder Gods. Peter’s treated voice sounds really scary when he makes his appearance as Moloch. Moloch comes to pick up two of his fellow Elder Gods out of this time trap during the story. Who could these two Elder Gods be then? 😀
As I said before, Sylvester McCoy is absent for most of the story. But his presence is felt throughout as his Doctor makes a brief appearance at the end of ‘Part Two’ and features mostly in ‘Part Three’. The story’s background is given in ‘Part Three’ as we learn what the Doctor’s involvement really was.
It turns out that the Doctor was responsible for putting Alfred and Peggy’s house/nuclear attack scenario in a time loop. You’ll have to find out what the reasoning and explanation for this was. The Doctor is putting some dangerous creatures to the test and has set some agenda of his into motion.
Sophie and Phillip get the chance to show off their acting in this story. They get to sound like Alfred and Peggy as they’re trapped in this time loop and can’t break out. It was quite strange and amazing to hear Ace sounding like Peggy and Hex sounding like Alfred when being a married couple together.
Ace and Hex work out how to break the loop and the Doctor appears as a hologram at the end. He gives Ace and Hex a tricky choice about whether to stay and leave. Both Ace and Hex make the same choice and they both win at the same time. I like the compassion Ace and Hex make in their choices.
The story ends on a cliff-hanger as Ace and Hex see the TARDIS arrive. But the TARDIS isn’t white anymore. It’s now black. Black?! Why has the TARDIS now turned black for Ace and Hex? Both Ace and Hex run inside the TARDIS as they hope to find the Doctor inside and to get all of their answers.
But the Doctor isn’t inside. Instead, Ace and Hex find two people in the TARDIS. It’s Maggie O’Neil as Lysandra Aristedes and Amy Pemberton as Sally Morgan. This starts to get interesting! What’s happened to the TARDIS; where’s the Doctor; and why are Lysandra and Sally in the black TARDIS?!
‘Protect and Survive’ is a fantastic story and the first part of a trilogy with the Doctor, Ace and Hex. There are obviously a lot of connections going on to previous as well as future stories. I wanted to learn what it was about; why the TARDIS kept changing colour and why there are more companions.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there is a suite of incidental music to enjoy. At the end of Disc 2, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew. These include Sylvester McCoy; Sophie Aldred; Phillip Olivier; Ian Hogg and director Ken Bentley. There’s a trailer for the next story with the Doctor, Ace and Hex called ‘Black and White’.
If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘Protect and Survive’ via a 6 or 12 CD/Download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There is a PDF script and extended extras of ‘Protect and Survive’.
‘Protect and Survive’ rating – 9/10
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