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The Doctor and Ace meet the Fearmonger
The Doctor and Ace are back!
This is ‘The Fearmonger’, a four-part story by Jonathan Blum. It’s also the first audio drama produced by Big Finish to feature Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor and Sophie Aldred as Ace. I enjoyed listening to this adventure. It felt like the Doctor and Ace had never been away from the TV series.
I’ve had the CD cover of ‘The Fearmonger’ signed by the lovely Sophie Aldred at the ‘Science of the Time Lords’ event in Leicester, January 2016. It was great to see her at that event. It’s a long time since Sophie did this audio adventure with Sylvester McCoy and she can vaguely remember doing it.
The story is set in London 2005, where the Doctor and Ace visit to hunt down an alien menace called the Fearmonger. But a political situation of the New Britannia Party causes the Doctor to suspect that all is not as it seems. He and Ace have to track down a would-be assassin to solve this mystery.
This story has the feel of one of the Virgin ‘New Adventures’ series of ‘Doctor Who’ books that were published in the 1990s. Although I haven’t read any of those books, I could sense the bolder and more mature feel and atmosphere of those stories, especially as it delves to explore darker territory.
The concept for the Fearmonger is intriguing. It’s a monster that isn’t seen but heard in the story as it feeds on the fear and anger of anyone it comes across. Certain people can hear the Fearmonger’s deep; growling and evil-like voice inside others when it speaks in them. Ace can also hear the voice.
Jonathan Blum writes really well for the Seventh Doctor and Ace in this adventure. He mentions in the CD sleeve notes how he longed for their return since their final appearance in ‘Survival’. It must have been great for him to write for his favourite TARDIS team in their Big Finish audio debut here.
Sylvester McCoy is brilliant as the Doctor in this. Sylvester’s Doctor is the dark, manipulative Doctor and he certainly is in-the-know about what this Fearmonger is despite not knowing what it looks like. He’s clearly fond of Ace and is determined to solve the mystery in all avenues concerning everyone.
Sophie Aldred is equally brilliant as Ace. I enjoyed her no-nonsense teenage attitude in this adventure. She’s determined to be brave when she faces the Fearmonger creature alone. I was shocked when Ace got shot at the end of ‘Part Two’ when she tried to talk a guy out of using his gun.
In the story, it’s been fifteen years since Ace left Perivale in 1987. This is in relative time as the story is set in 2005 from 1990. This means this adventure take place after Season 27 of the Lost Stories that ended with ‘Earth Aid’ and presumably after the early Doctor and Ace stories in the BBC books.
This story features special guest star Jacqueline Pearce as Sherilyn Harper. Jacqueline is well-known in ‘Blake’s 7’ and has appeared in the Sixth Doctor story ‘The Two Doctors’. Here she plays the leader of the New Britannia party, who gets marked for an assassination attempt on what she represents.
There’s also Hugh Walters as Roderick Allingham. Hugh appeared twice in ‘Doctor Who’ in ‘The Deadly Assassin’ and ‘Revelation of the Daleks’. Here he plays Sherilyn Harper’s personal secretary. Sherilyn and Roderick sound like a double act, and Roderick seems to know a lot about the Doctor.
This story also guest stars Vince Henderson as annoying radio DJ Mick Thompson. Vince is also Sophie Aldred’s husband in real-life. I thought it was nice to have Sophie and her hubby work together in this audio. Ace is mean to Mick Thompson for being a bully and loathsome on his shows.
The guest cast also includes Mark McDonnell as Walter Jacobs and Mark Wright as Stephen Keyser, the two would-be assassins. The Doctor and Ace contact Walter and try to help him as they find out more about what he knows from his experiences of the Fearmonger when he tries to kill off Harper.
There’s also Jonathan Clarkson as Paul Tanner, who happens to be a friend of Ace from Perivale in the story. Paul helps the Doctor and Ace to destroy the Fearmonger as he makes contact with Walter and joins in Harper’s campaign to further the Doctor’s plans. He also gets into contact with Roderick.
I liked the final scene between the Doctor and Ace and it’s a truly defining scene when they interact with each other. The Doctor shows concern for Ace when she’s undergoes a harrowing experience. I won’t reveal what that experience to avoid revealing. You’ll have to find out for yourself about Ace.
‘The Fearmonger’ has been a really enjoyable audio story with the Seventh Doctor and Ace. This audio adventure certainly evokes the Sylvester McCoy era of ‘Doctor Who’ and it was great to hear Sylvester and Sophie together as the TARDIS duo in this. I hope to listen to more of their audio adventures.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 2, there are trailers for three Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’. These include ‘The Sirens of Time’ with Sylvester McCoy, Peter Davison and Colin Baker; ‘Phantasmagoria’ with Peter Davison and Mark Strickson and ‘The Land of the Dead’ with Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton. There’s also a trailer for the continuing audio adventures of Bernice Summerfield as played by Lisa Bowerman in Big Finish. There’s also a trailer for the next story with the Doctor and Ace called ‘The Genocide Machine’.
‘The Fearmonger’ rating – 8/10
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