‘The Maltese Penguin’ (Audio)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

Frobisher and Josiah W. Dogbolter

Could this be considered Frobisher’s only ‘Companion Chronicle’?

After checking out ‘The Holy Terror’ on audio CD, I soon checked out the next Big Finish audio story featuring the Sixth Doctor’s shape-shifting penguin companion Frobisher called ‘The Maltese Penguin’, which I purchased as a download from Big Finish. I enjoyed hearing ‘The Maltese Penguin’.

With that said, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I enjoyed ‘The Holy Terror’. This is mainly because Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor doesn’t feature much in the audio story. And I appreciate the story taking the time to focus on Frobisher’s character, but I believe more Sixth Doctor scenes could have helped.

I also think that more audio stories featuring the Sixth Doctor and Frobisher together could’ve helped the listener engage more with Frobisher’s character. That and having audio adaptations of the Sixth Doctor and Frobisher stories, which are featured within the ‘Doctor Who Magazine’ comics. 🙂

‘The Maltese Penguin’ is like a Christmas Special, running at 1 hour and 10 minutes. It was first released as an exclusive bonus adventure to Big Finish subscribers who had ‘Neverland’ in their subscription. Thankfully I didn’t have to worry about it. The story’s now available to non-subscribers.

The adventure is by Robert Shearman, who previously penned the Sixth Doctor and Frobisher together in ‘The Holy Terror’. I like that Rob Shearman has got into the Sixth Doctor and Frobisher’s characters and their relationship, but I wouldn’t say this story was a step-up from ‘The Holy Terror’.

In the story, Frobisher has stopped travelling with the Doctor and has become a private detective again on the mean streets of an unnamed planet in the 82nd century. Some would argue that this story takes place before ‘The Holy Terror’, but I’m happy to consider this as taking place after that. 🙂

One of the disappointments I had with this story is that it doesn’t feature the opening and closing ‘Doctor Who’ theme music that I’m familiar with. I appreciate the incidental music provided by David Darlington, but I think it would’ve helped to include the ‘Doctor Who’ theme music to reassure fans.

Anyway, Frobisher hopes to solve crime cases whilst he’s on this unnamed planet. The Sixth Doctor comes in now and again to persuade Frobisher to join him in his travels again. Why Frobisher decided to leave the Doctor isn’t very clear. Frobisher tells him ‘no’ and very soon, the Doctor leaves.

Eventually, Frobisher receives a visit from a woman who is ‘drop dead gorgeous’ and ‘drop dead deadly’. She offers him a case and he can’t refuse it, because he has to pay the rent. 😀 But him getting involved in the new case leads him to a web of mayhem and intrigue, involving murder and deceit. 😐

What I like about this audio adventure is that it makes use of Frobisher being able to shape-shift into any person and any being he wants. This is something that wasn’t pronounced in ‘The Holy Terror’, which I’m fine with, since I wanted to identify with Frobisher being a penguin throughout that story.

As I understand it, Frobisher shape-shifted a lot throughout his first story in the ‘Doctor Who’ comics with the Sixth Doctor before it was decided that he became stuck as a penguin. Hearing the two audio stories featuring Frobisher makes me want to check out his comic stories. This I’m hoping to do.

Robert Jezek returns to play Frobisher in this audio adventure. Quite a lot of the time, Frobisher narrates the story to us in the first person. This might be considered to be a pre-dating of ‘The Companion Chronicles’ format. Maybe this is where the idea was inspired from with this audio story.

The story also showcases what Frobisher’s life could be like without the Doctor. Despite the comedic aspects of this story, Frobisher’s private eye life isn’t plain sailing and is considered dangerous when interacting with the criminal underworld. Frobisher is happy to rejoin the Doctor by the story’s end. 🙂

Despite Colin Baker not being in the story much as the Sixth Doctor, he does get to play Frobisher when the penguin disguises himself as the Doctor to conduct the case given to him by the ‘dame’. It was amusing to hear Colin Baker as Frobisher with an American accent throughout the audio story. 🙂

There are a few occasions where the Sixth Doctor pops in and out of Frobisher’s life whilst he’s solving the case. Mainly it’s to check on how Frobisher is doing after saving the universe a few times. It comes across that the Sixth Doctor’s travels with Frobisher aren’t as straight-forward as you’d expect.

As well as featuring Frobisher, this audio story also features Toby Longworth as Josiah W. Dogbolter, who makes his first appearance in the Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’. I’ve come across Dogbolter before in the ‘Doctor Who’ comics, since he first appeared in ‘The Moderator’ with the Fifth Doctor.

He would return in the Big Finish audio ‘The Quantum Possibility Engine’ with the Seventh Doctor. Dogbolter is like a half-man, half-frog Kingpin-like character. He’s a crime boss and is part of the web of intrigue and mayhem when Frobisher is conducting his crime case, since he wants ‘something’. 😐

The story also features Jane Goddard as Alicia Mulholland. It’s rather fitting that Jane Goddard is in this story, as she’s married to Rob Shearman who wrote it. Jane Goddard has done quite a number of Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’ over the years. Here, she plays Frobisher’s love interest in the story.

It also turns out that Alicia Mulholland is Frobisher’s wife and is called Francine. Apparently, she’s a shape-shifter like Frobisher. It was interesting to hear how that gets unveiled in the story and rather interesting that Frobisher had a wife. I think Frobisher mentioned it at one stage in ‘The Holy Terror’.

There’s also Alistair Lock as Elric Chandler, a police officer who is in the employ of Josiah Dogbolter. Alistair Lock has done quite a lot of voice work, including Dalek voices, as well as doing music, sound design and post-production on many Big Finish audios over the years. He’s quite a talented person. 🙂

Very often, Chandler sounded like Gollum when Frobisher as the Sixth Doctor interacted with him in the story. There’s certainly a gangster atmosphere within this story, especially when Frobisher gets bullied by Chandlier and he’s soon thrown off a cliff by him before he changes into a penguin in good time.

Incidentally, the title of this adventure is a reference to the 1930 novel called ‘The Maltese Falcon’. I’ve not come across the novel and it’s interesting that Rob Shearman refers to that in the title. There have been film adaptations of ‘The Maltese Falcon’, which would match ‘Doctor Who’ echoing classic movies. 🙂

That’s something the Phillip Hinchcliffe era of ‘Doctor Who’ tended to do with their TV stories. Apparently, this story isn’t the first time Frobisher impersonated the Sixth Doctor. He did it in his first appearance ‘The Shape Shifter’ and he could do it again in a story I’m working on with Wolfie. 🙂

There are references to art featured in this story, including a Vincent van Gogh painting that Dogbolter owns in his crime lair. Also in Dogbolter’s art collection is ‘an original Ridgway’ – a reference to the artist John Ridgway. He first drew Frobisher and Dogbolter in ‘Doctor Who Magazine’. 🙂

The CD extras are as follows. After ‘The Maltese Penguin’, there are trailers for the first series of ‘Sarah Jane Smith’ with Elisabeth Sladen; and the ‘Excelis’ saga which includes ‘Excelis Dawns’ with Peter Davison, ‘Excelis Rising’ with Colin Baker, ‘Excelis Decays’ with Sylvester McCoy and ‘The Plague Herds of Excelis’ with Lisa Bowerman.

‘The Maltese Penguin’ is an enjoyable audio episode featuring Robert Jezek as Frobisher with Colin Baker often popping in and out as the Sixth Doctor and sometimes playing Frobisher disguised as the Sixth Doctor with an American accent. It’s not a great ‘Doctor Who’ audio, but it’s enjoyable enough.

I would like there to be more Sixth Doctor and Frobisher audios, since I enjoyed ‘The Holy Terror’ and I think the comic stories featuring Frobisher deserve to be adapted into audio adventures. For now, I’ll check out the comic stories as they are and hopefully the book adventures featuring the big talking bird.

‘The Maltese Penguin’ rating – 7/10

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  • ‘The Age of Chaos’ (Comic)
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2 thoughts on “‘The Maltese Penguin’ (Audio)

  1. Timelord 007

    Death to Frobisher, die Frobisher die Lol.

    This story wasn’t my cup of tea, I’m not one for silly humour style story’s unless there’s a dramatic angle incorporated, a excellent review though Tim i respected your views on this audio drama.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon,

      Sorry to hear this wasn’t your cup of tea. I agree, it’s not a great audio drama and it’s not as good as ‘The Holy Terror’. I think it would’ve been better to have had more Sixth Doctor and Frobisher audios to appreciate their characters rather than expecting us to rely on ‘The Holy Terror’ and their ‘Doctor Who’ comic adventures, which I’m currently checking out. Glad you enjoyed my review and I’m pleased you respect my views on this audio drama.

      Many thanks,

      Tim 🙂



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