Lucie Miller is still one of the greatest original creations to come out of Big Finish’s immense catalogue of audio dramas from the past couple of decades. Thanks to some consistently great writing, amazing chemistry with Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor and, most importantly, Sheridan Smith’s terrific performance, she is remembered fondly by fans to this day, despite her era coming to an end back in 2011.
Fans of Lucie can still relive the glory days, though, thanks to these occasional Short Trips adventures which bring Smith back into the Big Finish fold – which can’t be easy to arrange, considering the actress’ incredibly busy schedule. This month brings us Flashpoint, a Doctor-lite story, if you will, which sees Lucie cut off from the Time Lord and forced to protect a young boy who is being hunted by a bunch of vicious gangsters.
Andrew Smith’s story is necessarily brief, due to the format of these releases, but it packs some wonderful concepts into the 35-minute runtime which really spark your imagination. In particular, the setting of Cereberin, a “storm world” which is surrounded by dazzling colours, when seen from above, is a very evocative one. The same goes for the idea of those on the surface wearing lightning suits to suck up the energy and use it for fuel.
Smith’s words are brilliantly brought to life by Sheridan Smith’s spirited reading. With the narrative written in the first person, Smith gives the piece an informal, conversational tone which keeps you hooked. Her range of voices is also quite impressive, in particular, her gruff Cockney gangsters. Smith’s Paul McGann impression is also fun, bringing out the haughty, faux-posh accent of his incarnation.
Like most Short Trips, Flashpoint is obviously a fairly slight tale that doesn’t exactly run along at breakneck speed. Still, the strength of these sort of stories is how they can aim for depth instead of breadth, just as this one does – the dark and dramatic final moments linger in the memory. All in all, it’s a diverting, pleasant listen which is a good showcase for Lucie as a character and Smith as a vocal performer. Still, it’s a shame we didn’t get more of the classic Doctor/Lucie banter that we love so much.
DOCTOR WHO – SHORT TRIPS: FLASHPOINT / DIRECTOR: LISA BOWERMAN / WRITER: ANDREW SMITH / STARRING: SHERIDAN SMITH / RELEASE DATE: JULY 31ST