‘1963: The Space Race’ (Audio)

‘1963: THE SPACE RACE’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Outer Space in the 1960s with the Doctor and Peri – Celebrating 50 Years of ‘Doctor Who’

It wouldn’t be the 50th anniversary of ‘Doctor Who’ without the Sixth Doctor and Peri, would it? 😀

‘1963: The Space Race’ is another enjoyable audio adventure by Big Finish. It’s the second of the 1963 trilogy of ‘Doctor Who’ to celebrate 50 years of the TV series. It features Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor and Nicola Bryant as Peri, who I enjoyed listening to very much in this audio adventure.

I’ve had the CD cover of ‘1963: The Space Race’ signed by Colin Baker at the ‘GEEKS Salisbury Comic Con’ in July 2017 and by the lovely Nicola Bryant at the ‘London Film & Comic Con’ in July 2017. I’m so pleased Colin and Nicola were involved in the 50th anniversary of ‘Doctor Who’ via Big Finish.

The CD cover’s pretty good, but it’s not as a good as the one for ‘1963: Fanfare For The Common Men’. I like the profiles of the Doctor and Peri adorned on the cover with images of the Soviet space programme accompanying them, including a space rocket with a planet having Russian letters on it.

‘The Space Race’ is an interesting tale with the Sixth Doctor and Peri, especially as it provides an intriguing historical setting in Russia 1963 with the Soviet space programme. It’s a well-written four-part adventure by Jonathan Morris, but this isn’t as good a story as ‘Fanfare For The Common Men’.

Nicola Bryant and Colin Baker in ‘1963: The Space Race’.

The Doctor and Peri arrive in Russia, November 1963. They come across a jeep containing three dead Russian scientists. They soon adopt the identities of two scientists from Moscow University that are actually undercover agents working for the KGB, when they get taken to the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

There’s a Cold War atmosphere present in this audio story, especially as most of its set in Russia. I’m not very familiar with the 1963 Space Race as I am with the 1969 moon landing. It was intriguing to find out about what could have been the very first Earth moon landing and to be done the Russians.

I didn’t know about the competition between the Russians and the Americans during the Cold War situation and who was going to get to the moon first. The director Nicholas Briggs has done well telling Jonny Morris’ tale in depicting the historical setting and to also feature some ‘bonkers’ ideas.

One of the bonkers ideas featured in this story is a talking dog called Laika.

Cuddles: “A talking dog! WOW! Wuff! Can I be a talking dog in a ‘Doctor Who’ story someday please? And in one with Nyssa please?”

“Yes, you can be in a ‘Doctor Who’ story with Nyssa someday, Cuddles. I’ve got one lined up for you.”

Cuddles: “Oh good! That makes me so happy! Wuff, Wuff!”

By the way, Laika was a real dog as part of the Soviet space programme. That wasn’t a dog that Jonny Morris created in the story. Laika did actually go up into space and went into Earth’s orbit. According to history, she was sent up into space in November 1957 and was never to be seen again.

Cuddles: “Don’t send me up into space please will you, my master!”

“I won’t Cuddles, I won’t.”

Cuddles: “Thank you! Wuff!”

But did Laika die? Apparently not in this ‘Doctor Who’ story. 😀 It seems Laika was found in the Vostok 7 capsule that was once piloted by Marinka Talanov who was sent up into space at the beginning of the story. Laika gets found by the Doctor and she happens to possess Marinka Talanov’s voice. Huh?

I enjoyed Colin Baker’s performance in this ‘Doctor Who’ story. He assumes the identity of Dr. Grigori Kalashnikov, one of the dead scientists in the jeep found by him and Peri. The Doctor gets curious on what goes on with the Soviet space programme and he gets to go into space in Vostok 8.

I like the relationship the Doctor shares with Peri in this adventure. He’s mostly separated from Peri in this adventure, but the times he reunites with her are wonderful to listen to. I feel the brash nature of Colin’s Doctor has toned down at this point, as he genuinely shows concern for Peri in this.

Nicola Bryant is equally wonderful as Peri in this adventure. She assumes the identity of Dr. Christina Bushkin in this story. I like how Peri is depicted as a resourceful woman in this story, since she’s playing a KGB agent acting as a scientist and demonstrates her intelligence when solving a problem.

She forms a connection with the dog Laika, even when the dog is being ruthless and merciless towards the humans. I like the semi-romance that Peri forms with Sgt. Leonid Kurakin in this adventure and I like how she has a good, strong friendship with the Doctor by this point in the series.

Stuart Denman, Samantha Béart, Tom Alexander and Karen Henson in ‘1963: The Space Race’.

Karen Henson guest stars as Larisa Petrov, who is part of the Soviet space crew at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in 1963. I liked the twist during the story when it’s revealed in ‘Part Two’ that she’s a spy working for the United States of America. It was a shock when she attempted to kill the Doctor.

David Shaw-Parker guest stars as General Mikhail-Leonov, who is in charge of the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The General is ruthless when he interrogates the dog Laika on the whereabouts of Marinka Talanov. Apparently it was the General who had sent Laika into the space in the first place.

Tom Alexander guest stars as Captain Alexei Kozlov, an officer working at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. He has some scenes with Peri when he assumes her she and the Doctor are KGB agents going undercover. Kozlov has an unfortunate end, as his vocal chords get surgically removed.

The story also features Stuart Denman as Sgt. Leonid Kurakin. Samantha Béart guest stars as Marinka Talanov as well as providing the voice of Laika with Marinka’s voice. It was shocking when Laika sounded helpless at first before she became aggressive and wanting to destroy all humans on Earth.

Cuddles: (frets) “Oh no! I don’t want to do that! I don’t want to be nasty like that bad dog in the story.”

“Don’t worry, Cuddles. You don’t have to be nasty if you don’t want to. You can be cute and cuddly as ever.”

Cuddles: “Yay!!! Thank you! Wuff!”

I like the references to the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy in the story, especially when the Doctor and Larisa are on their way back to Earth before they’re about to get hit by a missile fired by the Americans, providing the cliff-hanger to ‘Part Three’. This coincides to ‘Doctor Who’s beginnings.

At the same time President Kennedy got assassinated in November 1963, the first episode of ‘Doctor Who’ was transmitted. Unfortunately not many people were watching due to the shock of Kennedy’s assassination. It’s intriguing how this incident coincides with this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure. 😀

The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there’s a suite of incidental music to enjoy. It’s not the same as the very catchy sixties suite from ‘Fanfare For The Common Men’. I could hear a snippet of one of the Common Men’s songs which happens to be ‘Oh Won’t You Please Love Me?’

(singing) “Oh won’t you please love me?, Girl, I’m begging you please! Oh won’t you…” – Argh!!! It will never leave! IT WILL NEVER LEAVE!!!

At the end of Disc 2, there’s a trailer for the next ‘Doctor Who’ story called ‘1963: The Assassination Games’ with Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred. There are also some behind-the-scenes cast and crew interviews with director Nicholas Briggs, Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant which I enjoyed hearing.

It was great to hear Colin and Nicola share fond memories of working in ‘Doctor Who’; talking about this story and about the relationship between the Doctor and Peri. It was also great to hear them talk about how being involved in the 50th anniversary of ‘Doctor Who’ and in ‘The Light At The End’.

If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘1963: The Space Race’ via a 6 or 12 CD/Download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There is a PDF script and extended extras of ‘1963: The Space Race’.

I enjoyed ‘1963: The Space Race’ very much with Colin Baker as the Doctor and Nicola Bryant as Peri. I can’t say this is as good as ‘1963: Fanfare For The Common Men’. I only heard this story once in 2013 and listened to it a second time for this review. But it’s a great story to celebrate 50 years of ‘Doctor Who’ and it was good to hear the Doctor and Peri and such fun hearing a talking dog in it. 😀

“Say goodbye, Cuddles!”

Cuddles: “Bye, bye! Wuff!”

‘1963: The Space Race’ rating – 8/10


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4 thoughts on “‘1963: The Space Race’ (Audio)

  1. Cuddles must die, toss him out the Tardis lol (only kidding) this is a bonkers story from Jonathan Morris & i listened to this one quite a few times & still can’t get my head around it,.

    Great review Tim, got to admit this one makes my brain hurt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t you say such things about Cuddles. He won’t give you any bones or sausages which he’s obsessed with. Also he just saved Nyssa and Billy’s life. 😀

      Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘The Space Race’, Simon. I enjoyed listening to this story very much and Jonny Morris is as always a great ‘Doctor Who’ writer. I can’t say I enjoyed this one as much as ‘Fanfare’ though, but it’s a good entry especially to celebrate 50 years of the show with Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant.

      Tim. 🙂

      Like

    • Ditto. But then again with Jonny Morris’ stories they do require more than one listen. I remember listening to ‘The Haunting of Thomas Brewster’ over and over again to get an understanding of the story. But somehow Jonny Morris’ stories are easier to enjoy compared to Steven Moffat’s. Jonny Morris is more in line with RTD’s storytelling, hence why he adapted ‘Damaged Goods’ for Big Finish. I’m reading that book by the way. Thoroughly enjoying it.

      Don’t forget my latest ‘Doctor Who’ reviews on Series 1 with Christopher Eccleston if you’d like to check them out.

      Tim. 🙂

      Like

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