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The Sixth Doctor at Bletchley Park
Here’s a World War II adventure with the Sixth Doctor and the introduction of a new companion!
‘Criss-Cross’ is the first of the 2015 trilogy of ‘Doctor Who’ audios starring Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor. It’s also the first adventure to feature a new companion for Colin Baker’s Doctor. Miranda Raison makes her debut appearance as new companion WREN Constance Clarke and she’s very good!
I enjoyed listening to this four-part story by Matt Fitton featuring the Sixth Doctor in World War II. I’m afraid I’m not familiar with the whole Bletchley Park business and that it was a secret weapon for Britain during the war, but I found it interesting and enjoyed learning the new historical aspects of the tale.
The Sixth Doctor has enjoyed a long life of appearances in ‘Doctor Who’ through the Big Finish audios and he’s had many companions. So it’s unsurprising that the Doctor would be getting another companion to join him in his travels in the TARDIS. And what an interesting companion Mrs. Clarke is.
In the story, the Doctor is stranded on Earth with his TARDIS during the Second World War in Britain. I wondered why the Doctor was at Bletchley Park in the first place when he seemed to be running things there. The Doctor has been trying to get off the planet and bring life back into the TARDIS.
But whilst he’s at Bletchley Park, the Doctor discovers some encrypted radio waves criss-crossing across the planet. Very soon, unearthly forces begin to stir and the Doctor has to get to the bottom of this mystery in order to save the Earth. Will he be able to do that with Mrs. Constance Clark’s help?
This story is full of unsavoury characters from both British and German sides of the war and it’s full of twists and turns throughout. I was able to enjoy this story with it being set on Earth as well as set during a particular period of history that I was familiar with. I also enjoyed the action and the adventure!
In the story, there’s also a sense of going from one place to another with the Doctor as well as being joined by Mrs. Clark and the others. We start from inside Bletchley Park to going to a factory fence outside to going to a submarine underwater. It’s also very fast-paced in this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure.
It was also interesting to find the Doctor being stranded after his TARDIS broke down. It’s not clear how long the Doctor has been on Earth for during the Second World War and how he’s been at Bletchley. But he manages to gain the trust of the WRENs at the place, including Mrs. Clarke, before it goes wrong.
Colin Baker delivers a superb performance as the Doctor in this adventure. I enjoy Colin’s enthusiasm in these Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’. His Doctor has somehow managed to settle in at Bletchley Park and he’s also wearing a proper period 1940s outfit compared to his rainbow outfit.
I liked it when the Doctor gets agitated and anxious once he and everyone else are trying to sort out the problems and deal with the Waveforms in this adventure. But he keeps a cool wit about him whilst encouraging people. He soon realises how foolish he’s been once he’s trusted the Waveforms.
Miranda Raison makes a good first impression as the new companion Constance Clarke in this adventure. Miranda has worked with Colin Baker before in a Big Finish audio and she’s also well-known for playing Tallulah in the TV tale ‘Daleks In Manhattan’/’Evolution of the Daleks’ with David Tennant.
Constance is a leading WREN at Bletchley Park when the Doctor meets her. She’s a formidable woman with a no-nonsense attitude about her. But she’s also a kind-hearted lady and shows concern for her fellow WRENs. She’s also married and is concerned for the whereabouts of her missing husband.
I enjoyed it when listening to Constance’s reaction of seeing the inside of the TARDIS for the first time. She’s clearly awed by it and this lasts for quite a while before she eventually becomes a travelling companion in the TARDIS with the Doctor. She reveals to the Doctor how impressed she is.
The guest cast includes Hugh Fraser as Dr. Schwartzman, a Nazi doctor. Hugh Fraser has done a number of Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’ over the years as he worked with Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton in ‘Circular Time’, ‘Moonflesh’ and ‘The Cradle of the Snake’. I was so glad to hear him in this.
Schwartzman sounds like a nasty piece of work, especially when he hires double-agent Flint to work for him. I liked the German tones that Hugh provided in his performance for Schwartzman. I also liked that Schwartzman has some depth to him as a character and he’s not a one-dimensional villain.
Alistair Petrie guest stars as Major Harris of the British Army, attached to Bletchley Park. Harris interrogates Constance Clarke upon arrival and quickly suspects the Doctor to be a spy. Harris can be a real pig-headed snob who is so very typical of the British Army and he seems an unlikeable character.
But Major Harris does help out with the Doctor in sorting out these Waveforms menacing Britain and the world. He also gets to see the inside of the Doctor’s TARDIS when he forces him at gunpoint. Something shocking happens at the end of the story when Harris escorts Schwartzman back via a submarine.
Paul Thornley guest stars as Robbie Flint, a cockney double-agent working for both the British Army and the Nazis. He was initially codenamed ‘Agent Spark’, before it eventually gets revealed that he’s Agent Criss-Cross. Flint is a character who has many twists and turns and ones that I did not expect.
There are times in the story when Flint seemed to be helping the Doctor, Constance and the British army once joining them. But he tended to switch sides from either working for Major Harris or for Dr. Schwartzman. His true colours are soon revealed when he’s working for the Waveforms instead.
The guest cast also includes Charlotte Salt as Sylvia Wimpole, a WREN who works at Bletchley Park under Constance Clarke. I liked Sylvia as I found her sweet. She would also make an ideal companion for the Doctor from listening to this audio adventure. She’s so good when cracking the codes at Bletchley.
The aliens that feature in this are the Waveforms, voiced by Charlotte Salt. They’re an unusual species, made out of electromagnetic waves once the Doctor detects them. The Waveforms claim to be escaping a war when the Doctor is trying to help them out. But it turns out to be a deadly trap.
At the end of the story, Constance requests the Doctor to let her join him on board as a travelling companion in the TARDIS. This surprises the Doctor as it surprised me since it seemed all so sudden. I wondered if I had missed anything. I wondered why Constance would want to travel in the TARDIS.
‘Criss-Cross’ has been a very enjoyable audio drama to listen to with the Sixth Doctor meeting Constance Clarke for the first time. I enjoyed the World War II atmosphere of the story and I’m looking forward to what happens next for the Doctor and Constance and where they’ll be going next.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there are three tracks of incidental music to enjoy. At the end of Disc 2, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew including Colin Baker, Miranda Raison, Paul Thornley, writer Matt Fitton, script-editor Alan Barnes, director Ken Bentley, etc. There’s also a trailer for the next story with the Sixth Doctor and Constance called ‘Planet of the Rani’.
If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘Criss-Cross’ via a 6 or 12 CD/download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There’s a PDF script and extended extras of ‘Criss-Cross’. There’s also a bonus Short Trip called ‘The Warren Legacy’ with the Fourth Doctor, read by Stephen Critchlow.
‘Criss-Cross’ rating – 8/10
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