Doctor Who: The Behemoth

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Doctor Who: The Behemoth. Starring Colin Baker, Lisa Greenwood , Miranda RaisonGlynn SweetGeorgina MoonLiam McKennaWayne ForesterGiles New, Diveen Henry & Ben Arogundade. Written by Marc Platt & Directed by Jamie Anderson – 2xCD / Download (Big Finish)

First off, let me get this out of the way.  I was never a fan of Colin Baker’s Doctor.  Quite apart from his ludicrous costume I found him to be far too arrogant and shouty.  I never warmed to his portrayal, his assistants were mostly irritating and I found his adventures dull and forgettable.  So it’s safe to say I was expecting much from this.

As such, I was pleasantly surprised by this new audio adventure from Big Finish.  Colin Baker is a lot less shouty than I remember, although still a bit arrogant. The companions on this escapade are Flip and Constance, two I’m totally unfamiliar with but I assume they’ve been in previous audio adventures.  They are both portrayed well and neither one is particularly irritating.  It’s quite a memorable adventure as well, so that’s every one of my preconceptions well and truly scuppered.

In an unusual move, this outing for the Doctor is pure history.  No aliens. No super science. No futuristic society.  Just pure history.  It’s set in the mid-18th century and the Doctor, Flip and Constance have travelled to Bath to partake of the waters.  A chance encounter with Sir Geoffrey Balsam and his sister Mrs Theodosia Middlemint lead them into a twisted tale of murder, slavery and social injustice, as well as a closer look at the more unsavoury aspects of British history.  All in a variety of odd accents.

There’s Captain Douwemout Van Der Meer, with an allegedly Dutch accent.  The Reverend Philiip Naylor with his almost Scottish accent (and apologies to Wayne Forester, the actor who plays him if he is actually Scottish).  The absolute best is Captain Haunch, a ship’s captain who is strongly channelling the spirit of Captain Birdseye.  I don’t know if it’s because it’s an audio drama that makes the accents more noticeable, but noticeable they are and not always in a good way.

Dodgy accents aside, the story focuses on the thoroughly evil Sir Geoffrey, an overly entitled slave trader and his business partner, Titus Craven (who completely redefined the upper level   on my arrogance meter). In a convoluted plot involving kidnapping, fraud, murder, slavery and the theft of a rhino (the behemoth of the title), the Doctor sets about righting some social wrongs.  Whilst doing so, he even finds time to go on a date.  It’s all quite entertaining.  It even finishes with a sailing ship chase, cannons and an extremely upset rhino rampaging below decks. All creative stuff and ably demonstrating that history is playground enough with no need of alien invasions, giant monsters or werewolves in the royal family.

Colin Baker’s Doctor in audio is, in my opinion, much better than he was on television.  I’m not sure where Flip and Constance ‘fit’ in the grand scheme of the Doctor’s chronology but if they’d been around for the TV show, it would have been all the better for it.  So even if you’re not a fan of this version of the Doctor, give this a go.  You might be pleasantly surprised. Paul Ferriday

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