Doctor Who: The Auntie Matter/The Sands of Life
Written by Jonathan Morris/Nicholas Briggs
Published by Big Finish
Two very different stories kick off the latest series of Fourth Doctor audio adventures, with Mary Tamm bringing Romana back to the side of Tom Baker’s Doctor, in recordings made just a few months before her sad passing last year.
In The Auntie Matter, the pair are hiding from the Black Guardian, disguised as a married couple in 1920′s London. When Romana runs into a charming bachelor in town, she soon finds herself in the clutches of the Aunt from Hell.
Jonathan Morris openly taps the rich vein of Wodehouse with this tale, as unsuitable girlfriends, knowing servants and conniving butlers revolve around the time travellers. Baker and Tamm clearly revel in their humorous interplay, as each tries to outwit the other, and they are supported by a strong supporting cast including Julia McKenzie.
A shift of tone in the next release, which gives Mary Tamm in particular a chance to stretch her range within character. The Sands of Life finds K9 return to his Master and Mistress just in time to encounter the most lethal force known to robots – sand. The Tardis is knocked off course by a swarm of spacefaring creatures, and lands in the Sahara to find out why. Also out to hunt down the space whales is David Warner’s Cuthbert, an intergalactic entrepreneur with a hotline to Earth’s President.
This story is written by Nicholas Briggs, from an idea by Tom Baker, and serves up a rich table of aural delights in the dialogue and SurroundSound effects. Special mention should be made of Toby Hadoke, fulfilling a lifelong dream to act alongside Tom Baker as Cuthbert’s mysterious assistant, Mr Dorrick. The ecological theme is well woven into a strong story, without becoming overly preachy.
At 72 minutes long, Sands is a three (short) parter, and still ends on a cliffhanger that won’t be resolved until next month’s release. Yes, we have a Moffat style story arc here, but in the company of Tamm and Baker, it will be an enjoyable few months to the great reveal at the end.