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Words, Words, Words
The term ‘ish’ is a suffix used to form adjectives from nouns in the English language.
It is also the title of this ‘Doctor Who’ audio story with the Sixth Doctor and Peri, starring Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant. I enjoyed listening to ‘…ish’ on audio. However, I don’t think this is the greatest ‘Doctor Who’ audio adventure I’ve listened to. It’s not as pacey and action-packed like some others.
‘…ish’ is a pretty mind-boggling story that’s all about words. This suits the Sixth Doctor especially, since he’s a Doctor who uses a wide range of words in his vocabulary during his time in the series. But this doesn’t help with making the story exciting as it could have been, as I got lost in many parts.
This is a four-part adventure by Phil Pascoe, who makes his first and only contribution to the ‘Doctor Who’ series via Big Finish. Phil is an Australian fan of ‘Doctor Who’ and he sent in his proposal for this story to the Big Finish offices when they were having open submissions for stories in those days.
The production team at Big Finish liked Phil’s story and asked him to deliver a four-part story on the synopsis he sent them. I admire Phil Pascoe having a go at contributing his first ‘Doctor Who’ story to the series. Many concepts in this story are interesting, as they revolve around the English dictionary.
But I’m afraid this story was sadly lacking in drama and tension for me. It starts off well in the first episode with a murder being committing and introducing the world featured in ‘…ish’. But the last three episodes were muddled for me and a lot of the English terms during the story had me baffled.
I probably should have had an English dictionary to follow through what was going on in the story. But I decided to listen to this story as a casual listener and enjoy the Doctor and Peri. Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant deliver nice performances as their characters. It’s a shame the story was very average.
The story goes like this. The Doctor and Peri visit a university on an alien planet where a conference of lexicographers is about to take place. But a murder takes places as the leading lexicographer is seemingly killed before the conference begins. The Doctor investigates to learn what this is all about.
It’s soon discovered that a suicide note was written and filled with spelling errors. It’s also apparent that the leading lexicographer’s hologlyphic assistant called Book is somehow involved. As more gets uncovered in this mysterious murder mystery, everybody at the conference repeats the word ‘ish’.
On a positive note, I like the university setting featured in this story. I was able to visualise it, having been to university myself and could see the grounds and the interiors of the buildings. Sometimes it was quite baffling when Book appeared as a holographic image when he was summoned or appears.
Colin Baker delivers a fine performance as the Doctor in this audio adventure. As I said, this story suits his Doctor as Colin likes to say unusually complicated words for the kids to look up in the dictionary. The Doctor becomes very concerned when his dear friend Professor Osefa is murdered.
The Doctor seems to have mellowed by this point and isn’t the brash person that Peri met at the beginning of his tenure. It was interesting to hear how he interacted with Book during this story and I liked his scenes with Peri. Sometimes they wind each other up, especially on the English language.
Nicola Bryant is equally good as Peri in this story. Peri seems to be impressed when they first arrive on this alien planet. She becomes put out when the Doctor wants to visit a conference of lexicographers and soon becomes bored, until she meets a handsome young man at the university.
I enjoyed Peri’s scenes with Warren when they’re having a drink together on the university campus and talk about words and such. I liked some of the references made to Peri’s studying at college, since she studied botany. There’s also a reference to her joining her stepdad Howard’s expeditions.
There’s one scene with the Doctor and Peri that I’ve really enjoyed and that’s in ‘Part Four’ when they outwit the Ish creature with colloquiums on words spoken in English and in the American way. These include ‘shilling’/’dollar’ and ‘porridge’/’oatmeal’. It shows the two working well in this story.
I get the impression that Phil Pascoe is also a fan of ‘Blackadder’ as well as ‘Doctor Who’. This is because he reuses some of the jokes featured from the ‘Ink and Incapability’ episode in this story. This happens when the Doctor mentions the ‘sausage’ joke and Peri remarks there’s no ‘aardvark’.
I found it amusing when Peri and Cawdrey wore transgalactic babel masters in their ears to ‘bleep’ out the times they say ‘ish’. It sounds like a swear word when it gets censored. It was funny when Peri sneezes and says ‘at—oo’. Eventually Peri decides to take her ear muffs out when she’s fed up.
Moray Treadwell guest stars as Book in the story. I wonder whether Book was based on the Book featured in ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. It would have been nice if this story was written in a Douglas Adams style to make it more exciting and energetic, since it felt slow and so uninspired.
Book is having problems with defining the word ‘ish’ and he goes through what I call a ‘nervous breakdown’. Sometimes it was unclear whether Book was going mad or becoming a baddie in this story. He has some interesting scenes with Peri and the Doctor and a past with his former employer.
Marie Collett guest stars as Professor Osefa de Palabra Hftzbrn (what a long and complicated name! 😀 ). Professor Osefa is a dotty old woman who seemingly gets killed during the story. But as it transpires, it seems there’s more to her death than it appears and whether she’s really dead or not.
Oliver Hume guest stars as Symposiarch Cawdrey, who helps the Doctor when they’re investigating this strange mystery with Professor Osefa’s death and Book. Cawdrey tends to get highly strung and gobsmacked when the Doctor makes unusual discoveries. It seems Cawdrey is hiding a dark secret.
Chris Eley guest stars as Warren, this enthusiastic young man who is keenly interested in words. He seems a nice chap when Peri meets him. But it turns out that Warren is actually a bad person since he wants to change the way we use language and destroy Book. He gets naughty in the second half.
The monster in this story happens to be the Ish of the Omniverbum. The Omniverbum happens to be the longest word in the universe known to exist. The Ish causes trouble when it makes everyone say the word ‘ish’ at the conference. It’s been suggested that the Ish is similar to what the ‘Bad Wolf’ is.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 2, there are trailers for ‘The Rapture’ with Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred and the first series of ‘Sarah Jane Smith’ with Elisabeth Sladen.
‘…ish’ has been an enjoyable story with the Sixth Doctor and Peri in it. I don’t think it’s the best story ever made by Big Finish, but it had some interesting concepts. It was a fairly decent go by Phil Pascoe to write a ‘Doctor Who’ story. I’ll need to listen to this again and perhaps have a dictionary with me.
‘…ish’ rating – 6/10
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