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Brighton 1936 with the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn
This is a creepy ‘Doctor Who’ audio drama laced with icings of humour on it!
‘Pier Pressure’ is another ‘Doctor Who’ audio adventure by Big Finish with Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor and Maggie Stables as Evelyn Smythe. It is also the second contribution to ‘Doctor Who’ by comedy expert Robert Ross, who previously wrote the Sixth Doctor adventure, ‘Medicinal Purposes’.
I enjoyed this second contribution by Robert Ross in ‘Doctor Who’. It’s not as good as ‘Medicinal Purposes’, but it was intriguing to listen to. Robert delivers another historical adventure with a slightly comedic flavour to it, but also adds a sinister creepiness which makes it tenser and engaging.
Unlike ‘Medicinal Purposes’, this story doesn’t focus on a historical event but features some real-life historical characters. It was interesting listening to this audio adventure and to learn about historical figures like Max Miller who I’ve never heard before. Robert Ross does great in terms of his research.
The appeal of this story of course is the setting of Brighton 1936. Now I’ve been to Brighton before when I attended the ‘Timey Wimey 1’ convention in November 2014, so I was familiar with the place. Brighton has also appeared in ‘Doctor Who’ before, including the Tom Baker story ‘The Leisure Hive’.
As I said, Robert delivers a creepy tale with aliens coming out from the seawaters of Brighton. But there’s also a ‘Carry On’ films aspect to this story, when he’s adding more humour to this story. This is clearly exemplified in the supporting characters he writes for like Max Miller with them one-liners.
Robert Ross does it again with writing well for the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn in this second adventure of his. He has another chance to explore their relationship as a Doctor-companion set up. Admittedly, the character relationship wasn’t so prominent, but it was clear how the two worked well.
Colin Baker is superb in his role as the Sixth Doctor in this audio adventure. Colin’s Doctor gets intrigued by the mysterious goings-on when he and Evelyn visit Brighton. He’s troubled and shocked when people are instantly killed and taken possession by the alien creatures from in the seawaters.
I liked some of the scenes Colin shared with Evelyn, especially when they’re in the TARDIS in ‘Part One’ and are about to make their way to Brighton. It was fun to hear Colin Baker interacted with Max Miller and when he confronted Professor Talbot in the final confrontation scenes in ‘Part Four’.
Maggie Stables is equally good as Evelyn Smythe in this story. I like how Evelyn reflects on her time with the Doctor so far in these stories. Even though the Doctor can get on her nerves at times, Evelyn regards the Doctor so fondly and speaks highly of him when she has scenes with Max Miller.
I like the concern Evelyn shows when the two youngsters Albert and Emily get involved in this story and when one of them gets killed. The bantering between Evelyn and Max was enjoyable to listen to in this audio. Evelyn is able to show some resilience against the aliens who try to take her over here.
Roy Hudd guest stars as Max Miller in this story. I’ve seen Roy Hudd when he was interviewed for a ‘Dad’s Army’ ‘selection box’ documentary as he’s a devoted ‘Dad’s Army’ fan. He’s also an authority on and a biographer of the real Max Miller and the president of the Max Miller Appreciation Society.
Max Miller was a big name comedian from the 1930s of British culture. It was intriguing to hear Roy Hudd’s interpretation of the man and he happens to be a good impersonator of Miller. There wasn’t a lot of Mr. Miller doing comedy stand-ups in this, but it was fun to hear with the Doctor and Evelyn.
Doug Bradley guest stars as Professor Talbot, the supposed villain of the story. Doug Bradley is well-known for his appearances in the ‘Hellraiser’ movies. In this story, Talbot is a man torn in two as he is possessed by a race of aliens who want to destroy humanity. Talbot is supposed to be really dead.
I enjoyed the balance of torture in Doug Bradley’s performance as Talbot. Talbot sometimes switches from being himself to the alien voices of Indo here. He sounds confident when he threatens the Doctor and company. But the Doctor can see through the confidence and know Talbot’s turmoil.
Martin Parson guest stars as Billy in this audio adventure. Now it turns out that Billy in this story happens to be a younger version of William Hartnell. I didn’t get this until I read it up before listening to ‘Part Two’. I was hoping for more to be dwelt with Billy’s appearance in this. Sadly there was not.
There’s also Chris Simmons as Albert Potter and Sally Ann Curran as Emily Bung. The two character names are taken from a ‘Carry On’ film. Albert and Emily are a young couple who get caught in the mysterious goings-on in Brighton. Sadly one character gets killed, while the other wants to be heroic.
The aliens of this story happen to be the Indo. They appear out from the Brighton seawaters to take possession of people like Professor Talbot to do their bidding. They are a malicious species that fed on suffering. It was intriguing hearing their back-story; how they came to Earth and what they want.
Apparently by the end of the story, the alien energy becomes trapped inside the metal structure of the West Pier of Brighton, which explains why the structure was destroyed by the time the 2000s came along. It was interesting to hear, as the Doctor explains it to Evelyn and Miller at the very end.
The CD extras are as follows. At the beginning of Disc 1, there is a trailer for ‘Night Thoughts’ with Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred and Philip Olivier.
Like I said, ‘Pier Pressure’ isn’t as great as ‘Medicinal Purposes’. But there was something worth enjoying to be gained from listening to this audio drama. The performances were great and it was intriguing to have an historical, comedic and creepy tale set in Brighton, where I have visited already.
‘Pier Pressure’ rating – 6/10
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