THE FOURTH DOCTOR ADVENTURES 5.6: THE TROUBLE WITH DRAX (DOCTOR WHO)

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The character of Drax, who first appeared in Fourth Doctor TV serial The Armageddon Factor, is the latest old acquaintance to re-acquaint with Tom Baker’s Doctor, as well as Lalla Ward’s Romana. But don’t worry if you’re not so familiar with that 1979 story; in order to enjoy this audio caper from John Dorney, all you need to know about Drax is that he’s a Time Lord con artist who picked up a cockney accent in Brixton prison – a kind of time-travelling Del Boy. 

The Doctor’s TARDIS is pulled onto a spaceship where he and Romana are drawn into Drax’s latest scheme; under the employ of wealthy businessman Charles Kirkland (Hugh Fraser in full-on toff mode), Drax and the Doctor must travel to Altrazer, a city lost in time, and steal the hidden secrets of Kirkland’s rival. They’re watched over by Kirkland’s servant Rosser – played by John Challis, most famous as Only Fools and Horses’ Boycie, and thus very appropriate casting for a Drax story.

The idea of Altrazer as a kind of “temporal Atlantis” is a great plot device; when our heroes arrive there, they find themselves caught in a maelstrom of all the planet’s potential futures, caused by some sort of Time Lord technology. And yet as the plot develops, this element gives way to a number of twists revolving around Drax and his machinations, leaving the Doctor and Romana questioning who the mastermind of this scheme really is.

To say too much about these twists would be to spoil the fun, but fun is what they are. Dorney’s highly imaginative script offers playful takes on what we know about Time Lords and packs a lot into the play’s one-hour running time without ever becoming convoluted. Though Tom Baker’s on fine form as ever, he’s rivalled in the comedy performance stakes by Brooks and Challis as a pair of amusingly unscrupulous individuals, while Ward’s Romana amps up her academic disdain as the Doctor gets himself in deeper and deeper trouble.

The Trouble with Drax is a perfect mix of comedy crime caper and offbeat time travel adventure and is one of the highlights of this Fourth Doctor series. It’s the first time Drax has appeared in a Big Finish audio, but by the end, you’ll be crossing your fingers for the Time Lord wheeler-dealer to return sooner rather than later.

THE FOURTH DOCTOR ADVENTURES 5.6: THE TROUBLE WITH DRAX (DOCTOR WHO) / AUTHOR: JOHN DORNEY / DIRECTOR: NICHOLAS BRIGGS / STARRING: TOM BAKER, LALLA WARD, RAY BROOKS, JOHN CHALLIS, HUGH FRASER / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

 


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