Please feel free to comment on my review.
Lady Clara in Bath and Bristol 1756 with the Sixth Doctor, Constance and Flip
Colin Baker wanted a pure historical ‘Doctor Who’ audio adventure by Big Finish!
He got it and I greatly enjoyed it. 🙂 ‘The Behemoth’ is a four-part adventure by Marc Platt. It stars Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor, Miranda Raison as Constance Clarke and Lisa Greenwood as Flip Ramon (née Jackson). This is the second audio story starring that TARDIS trio in the Sixth Doctor era.
The trio previously formed in ‘Quicksilver’ where the Sixth Doctor and Constance encountered Flip in the 1940s on Earth. I was looking forward to how Sixy, Constance and Flip’s adventures would continue in space and time as I began the 2017 Sixth Doctor audio trilogy by Big Finish in early 2021.
‘The Behemoth’ has the Sixth Doctor, Constance and Flip visit Bath in 1756. This was a nice connection for me since I’ve written a Fifth Doctor story set in Bath in three time zones called ‘The Austen Code’. The Sixth Doctor even namedrops ‘dancing with Jane Austen‘ in ‘Part One’ of the tale.
That might come from Marc Platt having written Jane Austen in the Companion Chronicle called ‘Frostfire’ featuring Vicki, the First Doctor and Steven. Mind you, I do wonder if Big Finish are subtlety referencing ‘The Austen Code’ as that was published on ‘Bradley’s Basement’ in early 2017.
Probably not! 😀 Anyway, the Doctor, Constance and Flip hope to enjoy the luxury of high society in Bath by visiting the Roman Baths, the Pump Room and ballrooms. They cause a stir when meeting the gentlefolk of Georgian society, especially in the heart of dear widow Mrs. Theodosia Middlemint.
A special event is also about to take place. As well as the Doctor, Constance and Flip being strangers in Bath, the mysterious Lady Clara comes from Amsterdam in the company of noble Captain Van Der Meer. The whole of Bath is agog as they wonder who she is really and what she is upon her arrival. 🙂
However, the Georgian gentility is not all that it seems. An awful horror is about to be exposed by the Doctor as he encounters what’s hidden inside Balsam’s Brassworks. Can the Doctor and her friends uncover the true horrors of the slave trade to be brought to life for the sake of all humanity?
It was quite fascinating to hear this story as a pure historical period drama. It’s rare that Big Finish does that in ‘Doctor Who’ and it was nice to hear it here. ‘The Behemoth’ echoes the same style of historical period drama found in tales like ‘Black Orchid’ (which I still love) and ‘The Peterloo Massacre’. 🙂
It’s also intriguing how the story starts off being slightly comedic in ‘Part One’ before becoming serious in the rest of the tale. This is especially with the introduction of the slave trade movement and how the Doctor, Constance and Flip react horrified to the people who impose the slave trade. 😐
Very different compared to the rosy portrayal of Georgian society featured in Jane Austen’s works. The slave trade movement is something that’s not unfamiliar to me as I studied it in history at school, learning about William Wilberforce and the Reform Acts trying to denounce that slave trade.
Sometimes it was very easy for me to forget that it was mainly black people who were being treated at slaves at that time. That’s because the people in the story like Sarah and Gorembe sounded like normal people to me in the story. It took a while for me to pick up that they were treated as ‘slaves’.
I also found it an intriguing discovery that Lady Clara was a rhino and not one of the aspects of Clara Oswald from Series 7 of new ‘Doctor Who’. Actually on a serious note, Lady Clara and Captain Van Der Mere are real historical figures in real life. The rest of the characters are purely fictional in this. 🙂
Colin Baker is excellent as ever in this ‘Doctor Who’ story, enthusing throughout and clearly enjoying the pure historical drama he’s been given. I like how Colin’s Doctor gets to interact with Georgian society in Bath. By the way, the tale moves halfway from Bath for us to get to Bristol, which was fun.
I liked the interaction Colin’s Doctor had with Mrs. Middlemint and that there might be a sort-of potential romance between them. It sort-of echoes the romance William Hartnell’s Doctor had with Cameca in ‘The Aztecs’. It doesn’t amount to anything as you would expect, but still. A nice touch! 🙂
Colin’s Doctor is of course on the side of the unfortunates oppressed by the slave trade and goes against people like Sir Geoffrey Balsam and Titus Craven who clearly enjoy their luxuries from it. I also like how Colin’s Doctor’s interaction with Constance and Flip has settled greatly by this stage. 🙂
Miranda Raison is equally great as Constance in this adventure. She seems to have gotten over her recent falling out with her husband in ‘Quicksilver’ and seems to be enjoying travelling with the Doctor and Flip here. Constance always calls Flip ‘Philippa’ whilst Flip always calls Constance ‘Connie’.
Constance seems to form a nice interaction with the Reverend Philip Naylor when attending the ballrooms in Bath. I’m not sure if that amounted to anything either but Constance is clearly distressed when Naylor gets killed in the story. She’s against the slave trade featured in the tale too.
I liked it when Constance compared people like Sir Geoffrey Balsam to the Nazis and is shocked and horrified by how England isn’t the pleasant society it pictured itself to be during Georgian times. I like how Constance has formed this friendship with Flip, despite being from a different time to her. 🙂
Lisa Greenwood is excellent as Flip in this adventure. Flip does get into trouble as usual when she learns about Lady Clara actually being a rhino. She forms a bond with the rhino, especially when feeding oranges and getting caught in a trap when a wagon taking her and the rhino heads to Bristol.
It was disturbing when Flip was being eyed upon by the notorious Titus Craven who wished to marry her but she was clearly having none of it. I thought Flip showing her wedding ring to Titus would’ve put him off. But nope! Titus Craven is determined to go to any lengths to Flip married to him here. 😮
It even goes too far when Flip and the rhino Lady Clara are forced to board a sailing ship heading out from Bristol. It’s fascinating to hear from the CD extras how Lisa Greenwood described Flip being vulnerable in this audio story, especially when she requires the Doctor and Constance to rescue her.
Glynn Sweet guest stars as Sir Geoffrey Balsam in the drama. He starts off having romantic attentions towards Constance, which she’s clearly put-off by. Gradually, he turns out to be a horrible man and is so affronted by the Doctor’s accusations towards him for continuing with the slave trade.
Georgia Moon guest stars as Mrs. Theodosia Middlemint, Sir Geoffrey’s sister in the story. Apparently Georgia Moon worked with Gerry Anderson in ‘UFO’ according to the CD extras. I like how Mrs. Middlemint develops from being this silly woman to actually standing up to her brother. 🙂
The cast also includes Wayne Forester as Rev Mr. Philip Naylor, Diveen Henry as Sarah, Liam McKenna as Titus Craven and Giles New as Captain Douwemout Van Der Meer and Nehemiah Hawnch. I’m sure the cast found this audio adventure easy to visualise in it being a historical drama.
Just on a side-note, I know that Constance’s story about going back to her husband seems to be over by this stage. But I’m wondering about Flip. Does she ever go back to her husband Jared after being married to him? It’s something I hope will be explored in future Sixth Doctor/Constance/Flip stories.
‘The Behemoth’ is a very well-written, well-produced and well-directed ‘Doctor Who’ audio adventure by Big Finish. I enjoyed the performances of Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor, Miranda Raison as Constance and Lisa Greenwood as Flip and the pure historical drama was really welcoming.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there’s a suite 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, Lisa Greenwood, director Jamie Anderson, writer Marc Platt, etc. There’s also a trailer for the next story with the Sixth Doctor, Constance and Flip called ‘The Middle’.
If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘The Behemoth’ via a 6 or 12 CD/download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There’s a PDF script and extended extras for ‘The Behemoth’.
‘The Behemoth’ rating – 8/10
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