Please feel free to comment on my review.
Wirrn with the Sixth Doctor and Flip
The Wirrn are back to cause trouble!
Despite making one appearance in the classic TV series of ‘Doctor Who’, the Wirrn have become a popular ‘Doctor Who’ monster. From their debut in ‘The Ark In Space’ with Tom Baker, the Wirrn are a fascinating set of monsters that can absorb human beings and can turn them into gigantic insects.
I encountered the Wirrn in another adventure on audio after ‘The Ark In Space’, though that wasn’t with Big Finish. That was in the BBV audio story ‘Wirrn: Race Memory’ starring Sarah Sutton. ‘Wirrn Isle’, the third Sixth Doctor and Flip audio tale, is the first time I’ve encountered them with Big Finish.
I enjoyed ‘Wirrn Isle’ by William Gallagher. It was a gripping four-parter and Colin Baker and Lisa Greenwood are great to hear as the Sixth Doctor and Flip. I can’t call the Wirrn one of my favourite monsters, though I have considered writing a Wirrn tale with the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Billy once. 😀
This isn’t the first time I’ve come across William Gallagher as a ‘Doctor Who’ writer. The first time was when he wrote the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa story called ‘Doing Time’ in ‘The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories’. He’s also written ‘Spaceport Fear’ which has the Sixth Doctor and Mel in it.
‘Wirrn Isle’ has a family atmosphere about it, especially when the Doctor and Flip meet one such family at a snowy base in Scotland in the year 16127. There’s also the classic base under siege story where not everyone survives and the deadly Wirrn are attempting to transmat inside the Nerva City.
Here’s a side note. The story was originally going to be called ‘The Prodigal Wirrn’. Interesting! Anyway, the story has the Sixth Doctor and Flip transmatting into the base of the Buchman family. This includes Roger Buchman with his wife Veronica and her daughter Toasty. Because…she’s toasty! 😀
The Buchmans have had a tragic history since Roger and Veronica lost their son Iron. Roger hopes to re-establish the Nerva colony he was forced to abandon many years ago. The Buchmans’ base is on an island surrounded by what was once known as Loch Lomand in Scotland. I can easily visualise it. 🙂
It soon becomes apparent that there is Wirrn mucus dotted all over the Buchman base as well as the loch itself. The Doctor deduces that it’s Wirrn and that they are currently residing in Loch Lomand itself. Things become pretty tense when the Wirrn begin to take over and are becoming very hungry.
The tension does get raised quite significantly by the second half of the story. Soon there are transmat problems and family squabbles ensue. The Doctor does everything he can to keep the people he meets in this adventure alive as well as keeping Flip alive who he’s known for a short time.
The Wirrn were very intriguing to hear on audio. As well as ‘Wirrn: Race Memory’, I was able to pick out interesting new layers to them as a species compared to what was seen in the TV story ‘The Ark In Space’. It’s very disturbing when they’ve become manipulative, having absorbed people you love.
The snowy aspects to this story help too. Sometimes our characters have trudge through snowstorms to get to a certain place. Either Flip and/or the Doctor and Veronica have to outrun the Wirrn chasing after them. It’s also so tense when the Wirrn’s legs get mistaken for branches in snow.
The transmat technology gets used significantly in the story, especially when someone tries to beam in and out of a place and when a group of people find the transmat technology being shut down. The Wirrn intend to use the transmat technology to their advantage to spread their species all over Earth.
As I said, it was lovely to hear Colin Baker and Lisa Greenwood together again as the Sixth Doctor and Flip. Colin’s Doctor has grown very fond of Flip since they started their travels together. He’s almost become like a father figure for Flip. Both of them get mistaken as father and daughter here. 🙂
Colin’s Doctor works desperately fast to try and get the trasmat technology working again when power cuts out and when the Wirrn are making to attack. Colin’s Doctor tackles the Wirrn quite well in this story. He also uncovers interesting truths about the Buchman family regarding the offsprings.
Lisa Greenwood as Flip does get to have her own journey in ‘Wirrn Isle’. Thankfully she doesn’t get killed and be absent for one episode of a story. She does get to fly a microlite which is like a hang glider you can pilot in the air via wind propulsion, I believe. It was intriguing to hear her do that in this story.
It was amusing at the start of the story when the Doctor and Flip arrived via transmat at the Buchman base and she’s freezing cold, wrapping herself warm in a fur coat. Flip does get chased by Iron the Wirrn in the story before she ends up in Nerva City and meets people that can control the transmats.
Tim Bentinck guest stars in this story as Roger Buchman. I’ve heard Tim Bentinck before in a number of Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’. He was in ‘The English Way of Death’ with Tom Baker’s Doctor and was in ‘The Contingency Club’, ‘Kingdom of Lies’ and ‘Moonflesh’ with Peter Davison’s Doctor. 🙂
I’ve also met Tim Bentinck in real life at the ‘MCM Birmingham Comic Con’ in November 2017. Happy times! Anyway, Roger Buchman considers himself a transmat expert. He also attempts something dodgy when trying to rescue his son Iron from a Wirrn body. He risks Toasty’s life though.
Jenny Funnell guest stars as Veronica, Roger’s wife in the story. Jenny Funnell has done another ‘Doctor Who’ Big Finish audio called ‘The King of Sontar’ with Tom Baker. In this story, Veronica is protective about her family and she wants to keep her husband and her daughter together and safe.
When the Wirrn start attacking and causing problems, Veronica becomes stressed out and gets irritated by her husband’s actions as well as impatient with the Doctor trying to save everyone. Veronica soon reveals to the Doctor that Roger isn’t Toasty’s daughter which could change events. 😐
The story also features Tessa Nicholson as Toasty, the supposed daughter of Roger and Veronica, who seems a cheerful, go-lucky girl wanting to help out on the freezing isle. It’s tense when Toasty becomes absent for an episode as Roger attempted to transmat her in a process to save his son Iron.
Rikki Lawton guest stars as Iron, the lost son of the Buchmans who has ended up becoming a Wirrn. It was intriguing to hear Iron as a villain and the Wirrn manipulating the Buchmans to trust their son inside a Wirrn body, using their memories. The Doctor tries to discourage the Buchmans hearing the Wirrn.
There’s also Dan Starkey (well-known for playing the Sontarans in ‘Doctor Who’ on TV and audio) as Sheer Jawn, who’s actually the real father of Toasty and gets absorbed by the Wirrn. There’s also Helen Goldwyn (a veteran Big Finish actress and director) as Dare and Glynn Sweet as Paul Dessay. 🙂
The story concludes with the Wirrn being stored away in Loch Lomond by the Doctor until the humans can sort them out. There is a moment when Flip thinks the Doctor’s going to take her back home. But the Doctor wants Flip to stay in the TARDIS before he reminds her to be very careful in future.
‘Wirrn Isle’ is a pretty enjoyable ‘Doctor Who’ audio adventure by William Gallagher, starring Colin Baker as the Doctor and Lisa Greenwood as Flip. I enjoyed how the Wirrn were presented in this adventure. It’s also nice the Sixth Doctor and Flip are becoming a pretty enjoyable TARDIS duo. 🙂
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there are ten tracks of incidental music to enjoy! Ten?! That’s more than ‘Masquerade’ had so far for me! 😀 At the end of Disc 2, there’s a trailer for ‘The Emerald Tiger’ with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Mark Strickson and Sarah Sutton. There are also behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew including Colin Baker, Lisa Greenwood, writer William Galagher, director Nicholas Briggs, etc.
If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘Wirrn Isle’ via a 6 or 12 CD/download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There’s a PDF script and extended extras of ‘Wirrn Isle’. There’s also a bonus Short Trip audio called ‘Breadcrumbs’, featuring the Fourth Doctor and Romana, read by John Banks.
‘Wirrn Isle’ rating – 8/10
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For the Wirrn was
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For Flip is
For the Wirrn is
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Another detailed & informative review Tim, this is another strong Sixth Doctor audio drama which is tense, chilling & creates great atmosphere with the snowy setting giving that sense of isolation.
The Wirrn are well handled here & i like the slow build up to the first 2 episodes of the story which then becomes more faster paced & suspenseful during the stories 3rd & 4th episode, Colin & Lisa are magnificent as The Sixth Doctor & Flip there characters bounce off each other with wonderful rapport.
Fantastic review Tim on what are a fantastic strong trilogy of stories.
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Very pleased you enjoyed my review on ‘Wirrn Isle’. This adventure does have great attention and atmosphere throughout and I again enjoyed the camaraderie between Colin Baker’s Doctor and Lisa Greenwood’s Flip as well as the appearance of the Wirrn. Glad you enjoyed the slow build up in the first two episodes as well as the fast pace and suspense in the last two episodes.
Many thanks for your comments, Simon. Don’t forget my review on ‘Antidote of Oblivion’ with the Sixth Doctor and Flip facing Sil.