‘WIRRN: RACE MEMORY’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Sarah meets the Wirrn
“…And when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts…” — Exodus 10:13
I enjoyed listening to ‘Wirrn: Race Memory’! It was great to listen to something different and hearing Sarah Sutton as the main star in an adventure with the Wirrn. It was early 2012 and I was in the mood for Sarah, but I wanted to purchase something different from the audios/DVDs I regularly see/hear.
I was tidying up my bedroom and clearing my box of ‘Doctor Who Magazine’ issues. I looked through one issue and found surprisingly a page on Galaxy 4 that advertised this audio drama with the Wirrn featuring Sarah Sutton. This was an audio I didn’t know about before and I was delightfully surprised.
Once spotting it in ‘DWM’, I was determined to have this audio drama to fill my Sarah Sutton collection. So I went online and purchased the ‘Wirrn: Race Memory’ CD from Galaxy 4, along with the ‘Myth Makers’ DVD release of Sarah Sutton and Peter Grimwade to complete this amazing treat.
I’ve had the CD cover of ‘Wirrn: Race Memory’ signed by the lovely Sarah Sutton at the ‘Pandorica 2015’ convention in Bristol, September 2015. Sarah remembered recording this audio drama when I asked her about it.
N.B – This is not a Big Finish audio production. It was made by BBV (Bill Baggs’ Video) productions, that produced licensed spin-off non-‘Doctor Who’ related dramas in the early 2000s. ‘Wirrn: Race Memory’ was one of those dramas and is part of the ‘Audio Adventures in Time and Space’ series.
This story is credited as Story 29. It was written and directed by Paul Ebbs and produced by Bill Baggs in 2001. This is like an hour-long, one-off special audio drama, as it lasts for about 60 minutes in total.
Sarah Sutton is well-known as Nyssa of Traken in ‘Doctor Who’. Sarah is my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion as well as my favourite actress. I’ve met Sarah at conventions and she’s very lovely and friendly to meet/talk to. It was great to hear Sarah in something different other than ‘Doctor Who’.
Although this story is set in the ‘Doctor Who’ universe, Sarah is playing a different character compared to Nyssa, though not too dissimilar. I enjoyed hearing Sarah in this one. It’s the only time that I know of where she’s playing an unrelated character in the ‘Doctor Who’ universe that isn’t Nyssa.
This was also the first time I listened to an audio adventure with the Wirrn, which was very exciting. The Wirrn first appeared in ‘Doctor Who’ in ‘The Ark in Space’. They were created by Robert Holmes and are space insect-like creatures that absorb people’s memories and they turn them into one of them.
There are echoes of ‘The Ark in Space’ in this audio drama, as it follows on directly from that TV story. We get to go to the Nerva beacon itself too. The story is about a small team of scientists at a station in Mombassa, Africa in the far future. Sarah leads the team in order to rebuild their home on Earth.
But something goes wrong in their mission as their gene-spooler gets infected and sabotaged by some wasps that aren’t really wasps at all. The Wirrn have re-woken again and plan to take over the Earth and wipe out the humans. Can Sarah and her team survive this nightmare before it’s too late?
‘Wirrn: Race Memory’ stars Sarah Sutton and Keith Drinkel from ‘Doctor Who’ with Nigel Fairs; Mark Donovan and Steve Johnson. All cast members give fantastic performances throughout this drama.
Sarah Sutton stars as…Sarah in this. Sarah’s character is a little like Nyssa, though she’s human and not from Traken. Sarah plays her character with a little edge and authority, as she’s leading the team of scientists at Mombassa Station. This could be what happens to Nyssa after she’s left ‘Terminus’.
Sarah is trying to rebuild the Earth following the solar flares and is under pressure. She doesn’t get on well with Parker, but she seems to like Joshua. I liked that scene when he gives her a cup of coffee and the two chat for a bit. Sarah unfortunately gets taken hostage by Parker when he’s turning into a Wirrn.
Keith Drinkel stars as Parker. Keith has worked with Sarah Sutton before in ‘Time-Flight’, so it must have been great for Sarah to be working with Keith again. Sarah told me recently how she remembers Keith being a terrible giggler during the making of ‘Time-Flight’, which I’m certain is true.
Parker is a sharp and bitter character. He doesn’t get on with anyone and easily irritates Sarah. Sadly he gets infected and slowly transforms into a Wirrn. The transformation is horrible and gruesome, especially when he’s gaining race memories and is switching voices between Parker and the Wirrn.
Nigel Fairs guest stars as Joshua. Nigel has gone on to be a Big Finish actor; writer; producer and director, including on some ‘Doctor Who’ stories and projects with Louise Jameson. Joshua is a young, inexperienced scientist who is pretty appalled by the dysfunctional atmosphere between the team.
Joshua likes Sarah and I liked the scenes they have together when he’s giving her a cup of coffee. I also liked it when Sarah tells him that she’s glad to have him around. Joshua gets lots of scenes with Charles, who takes him under his wing as both are trying to stop the Wirrn and being ‘scared’/’terrified’ together.
Mark Donovan guest stars as Charles. Mark is an actor who’s worked for both Big Finish and BBV in various productions. He’s done the voice of Shayde, a comic book character in ‘No Place Like Home’ with Peter Davison’s Doctor. Charles is a hard and tough character working with the scientific team.
Charles likes to use rifles and guns in this story. He tends to put Joshua down and even tries to discourage him from pleasing Sarah. When the Wirrn menace arrives; Charles is the one who motivates Joshua forward and to overcome his fears. He makes a sacrifice in order to stop the Wirrn.
Steve Johnson guest stars as the Wirrn Queen. Steve also provided the cover designs for a number of Big Finish ‘Doctor Who’ audios. He delivers a chillingly, scary voice for the Wirrn Queen in this audio.
I liked how Sarah narrates some sections of the story that reveals more about the history of the Wirrn. I also liked some of the Biblical connections to God which were interesting. Sometimes it sounds like there are things said from the Wirrn or the insects’ points of view at the start and at the end of this story.
‘Wirrn: Race Memory’ has been an interesting, enjoyable and dramatic audio listening experience. I enjoyed listening to Sarah Sutton as the main star in this drama and to hear her play a character in a non-‘Doctor Who’ adventure. I’m very surprised Sarah hasn’t had her own series following this audio.
Although Sarah has said at conventions that she would only play Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’, it was interesting to hear her playing somebody different in this universe. I’ve enjoyed how Sarah plays her character in this tense adventure, filled with horrific proportions and how she encounters the Wirrn.
If you want to hear more of Sarah Sutton in non-‘Doctor Who” related productions, try out the ‘Soldiers of Love’ sci-fi comedy series from MJTV or ‘The Jarillion Mercy’ audiobook that Sarah has done.
‘Wirrn: Race Memory’ rating – 8/10
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