‘THE CHARGE OF THE NIGHT BRIGADE’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
In Balaklava, Crimea, 1855 with the Twelfth Doctor and Mary Seacole
I was right! Big Finish did do a ‘Doctor Chronicles’ box set for the Twelfth Doctor after all! 😀
Since I covered ‘The Ninth Doctor Chronicles’ in 2017, ‘The Tenth Doctor Chronicles’ in 2018 and ‘The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles’ in 2019, it’s only fair that I check out ‘The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles’ in 2020. There’s the slim chance I might do ‘The Thirteenth Doctor Chronicles’ in 2021. 😀
That is, if Big Finish should ever get around to doing it when it comes to the Thirteenth Doctor on audio. 😀 But I digress. I purchased ‘The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles’ CD box set in September 2019 once I heard the news Big Finish were going to do them and set them for release in February 2020. 🙂
‘The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles’ is of course a collection of four audio stories by Big Finish in the style of ‘The Companion Chronicles’. I would like to hear some audio dramas starring Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor. With Christopher Eccleston coming back to play the Ninth Doctor on audio, the chances of Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi returning to their roles as the Doctor seems pretty hopeful.
For this ‘Twelfth Doctor Chronicles’ box set, I was very happy to hear these Twelfth Doctor stories being read by a narrator. I was dubious though about who would perform narrating duties on ‘The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles’ and was even more dubious when I heard Jacob Dudman would do them.
Don’t get me wrong, Jacob Dudman is a great ‘Doctor Who’ narrator and he did impressive work for ‘The Tenth Doctor Chronicles’ and ‘The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles’. But could he do a convincing Twelfth Doctor voice? I wasn’t sure. Capturing Peter Capaldi’s Scottish tones could be quite a task. 😐
Nevertheless, I was keen to hear what Jacob Dudman would bring to the table and I was sure to have a good time hearing him do a Peter Capaldi voice for the Twelfth Doctor. It helped that he did some Short Trip audios by Big Finish featuring the Twelfth Doctor, so that must be pretty reassuring.
The four stories in ‘The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles’ CD collection are as follows. ‘The Charge of the Night Brigade’ by David Llewellyn; ‘War Wounds’ by Mark Wright; ‘Distant Voices’ by Lizbeth Myles and ‘Field Trip’ by Una McCormack. All episodes in the CD collection are directed by Helen Goldwyn.
Like the Eleventh Doctor era, the Twelfth Doctor era wasn’t an era I particularly enjoyed throughout on TV from 2014 to 2017. But I still hold a fondness for the era. I’m hoping to write a Twelfth Doctor tale soon for the ‘Zorbius’ series and was looking forward to Big Finish’s take on the Twelfth Doctor.
The first story of ‘The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles’ is of course ‘The Charge of the Night Brigade’ by David Llewellyn. The story’s title is of course a play on the poem ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’. 🙂
As well as the actual battle in 1854 of course! David Llewellyn has written plenty of ‘Doctor Who’ adventures for Big Finish audio and for BBC Books. He’s also written for the Twelfth Doctor before. 🙂
That was in ‘The Mercy Seats’ in ‘The Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who’ anthology. It was intriguing to hear him write for the Twelfth Doctor again and how he did him in a longer story in audio format.
‘The Charge of the Night Brigade’ takes place in 1855 during the Crimean War. I did study the Crimean War when I was studying A Level History, so the setting was so easy to visualise in this story.
In the rat-infested camps of Balaklava (sounds like a woolly hat 😀 ) in Crimea, a woman named Mary Seacole sets up service to beleaguered troops and serves them rice pudding at her ‘British Hotel’. 😀
And yes, I did check. Mary Seacole happens to be a real-life person during the Crimean War. I didn’t know it before venturing into this audio adventure. It was quite fascinating to discover who she was.
Apparently she’s a British-Jamaican woman who attended the wounded during the Crimean War. She’s like another Florence Nightingale, although whether that’s a compliment is a matter of debate.
Mandi Symonds plays Mary Seacole in this audio episode. Mandi’s no stranger to ‘Doctor Who’, having done a number of audios for Big Finish in many ranges including some Fourth Doctor ones. 😀
I like how she gets introduced to the Twelfth Doctor who just happens to be there when she first meets him, inspecting chickens. In fact, the Doctor seems to be travelling alone by this stage here. 🙂
Yeah, that’s something I should probably bring up. All the stories in ‘The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles’ don’t see him having a companion with him. There’s no Clara and no Bill in either of the stories here.
I think ‘The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles’ could’ve benefited with the Twelfth Doctor having an adventure or two with each of his companions – Clara and Bill. Even Nardole would be very welcome.
I’m assuming this story takes place during Series 8 when he’s sometimes having adventures with Clara. Although sometimes the Twelfth Doctor did have that tendency to travel alone without Clara!
I guess, in the end, Mary Seacole is like the one-of companion character for the Twelfth Doctor in this story. She does get to be the one who asks all the questions about what’s going on in this tale. 🙂
And to answer your question, yes, I think Jacob Dudman does a very good voice for Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. It’s not perfect, but hearing this story did make me think it was Peter Capaldi in the room. 😀
Anyway, Mary enlists the Doctor’s help when a strange infection not of this Earth occurs. It happens when people are being bitten by rats and they’re possessed by something who demands ‘sanctuary’.
I like the concept behind this episode where an alien menace gets into people by crashing to Earth; ending up in the rain, which is drunk by rats, before the rats bite people. It’s rather clever thinking it.
The relationship between the Twelfth Doctor and Mary is also intriguing. The Twelfth Doctor gives that air of not caring when in actual fact he does care for people, as he does form a bond with Mary.
It was quite terrifying to think about rats possessed by aliens forming into man-like beings when they’re about to attack the soldiers in Balaklava. I’m sure it would be terrifying to see on TV screens.
After watching ‘Aquaman’ recently and thinking about ‘Finding Nemo’, I couldn’t help think of those films instead of Johnny Cash when ‘Operation Ring of Fire’ was mentioned. No ‘shark bait’ got found. 😀
The Doctor also gets to ride a camel in this story. The Doctor does feel uneasy about riding a camel, although he has ridden camels in other media e.g. books, so why should he be so tentative about it?
‘The Charge of the Night Brigade’ has been an enjoyable adventure in ‘The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles’. I like the Twelfth Doctor meeting Mary Seacole and that it turned out fine in the end. 😀
The CD extras are as follows. There are behind-the-scenes interviews with Jacob Dudman, Mandi Symonds and director Helen Goldwyn, conducted by producer Alfie Shaw on ‘The Charge of the Night Brigade’ which I enjoyed hearing. There’s also a brief interview with script editor Matt Fitton.
‘The Charge of the Night Brigade’ rating – 8/10
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