THE SIXTH DOCTOR: THE LAST ADVENTURE

PrintE-mail Written by Ryan Pollard

After Doctor Who’s 23rd season and the epic The Trial of a Time Lord saga finished, it was sadly announced that Colin Baker would no longer play the Doctor, and that Sylvester McCoy would be taking over the role for the show’s remaining 3 seasons. A final regeneration story was never offered to Baker, and he even turned down the offer to film a regeneration sequence for the beginning of season 24’s opening episode, Time of the Rani. But now, 31 years later, we will finally get to witness the events leading up to the Sixth Doctor’s fatal moment in Big Finish’s eagerly anticipated, The Sixth Doctor: The Last Adventure. Structured similarly to Trial of a Time Lord, The Last Adventure sees the Sixth Doctor involved in four different adventures across time and space, all connected by his old adversary: the Valeyard, the dark manifestation of the Doctor.

Even though each story has a different and unique style and tone, each of them feels like a celebration of Colin’s Doctor. In fact, this four-part story offers a more exciting and stronger story-arc than TV’s Trial of a Time Lord, which felt like a mixed bag with equal parts good and bad. Despite being an audio drama, The Last Adventure is more solidly structured and offers more creative storylines for Colin’s Doctor to get involved in.

The first story, End of the Line (note the title), is a chilling story that puts a dark satirical spin on commuting and all its downsides. The writers, Simon Barnard and Paul Morris, have been given a challenge, not just to make the multi-layered concept exciting, but introducing Constance Clarke to listeners, and Miranda Raison (Tallulah in 2007’s Daleks in Manhattan two-parter) does deliver a very likeable and charming performance. Alan Barnes’ The Red House is an action story with werewolves and Sixth/Eighth Doctor companion Charley Pollard. This story boasts an impressive cast, a richly textured environment, and a typically ballsy performance from India Fisher, who has great scenes with the Valeyard. This story would’ve easily made a great TV episode.

Matt Fritton’s Stage Fright is a witty and sharp Victorian thriller that sees a pleasurable juxtaposition of combining modern street-wise Phillipa Jackson with Victorian heroes Jago and Litefoot, with Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter still making a delightful double-act and Lisa Greenwood brilliantly combining feistiness and vulnerability. Nicholas Briggs’ The Brink of Death is a fitting send-off for Colin’s Doctor, and even though we know how it ends, it doesn’t spoil the enjoyment. Mel does get sidelined, but Liz White is brilliant as sub-companion Genesta. It provides a fitting conclusion to the ongoing story threads of The Last Adventure, whilst also wrapping up the Doctor’s battle with the Valeyard, and thankfully it doesn’t devolve into becoming self-indulgent or anti-climatic.

What’s most of all special about The Last Adventure is that it’s really all about Colin Baker and what makes his Doctor special and unique from everyone else’s. It’s true his Doctor wasn’t universally-appreciated at the time during the ‘80s and that he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, yet he’s survived through that fiasco, and has gone on to become a great Doctor in all things Big Finish. Here, he makes no exception, giving us a consistently grandiose performance, lighting things up, yet making things dark and serious when needed. In truth, Colin Baker deserved more than what got when he started out, and this audio drama reminds us why we should re-evaluate his Doctor in a different light. Michael Jayston gives a suitably menacing performance in audio as he did on TV, and still provides a great foil for Colin’s Doctor.

Funny, sad, scary and thought-provoking with great performances throughout (especially from Colin himself) and consistently solid writing from across the board, The Last Adventure gives the Sixth Doctor the farewell he deserves, and is the fitting paean to the Colin Baker era.

THE SIXTH DOCTOR: THE LAST ADVENTURE / PUBLISHER: BIG FINISH / STARRING: COLIN BAKER, MICHAEL JAYSTON, MIRANDA RAISON, INDIA FISHER, LISA GREENWOOD, BONNIE LANGFORD, SYLVESTER MCCOY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
 


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