It was a risky decision for Big Finish to do the unthinkable and recast one of the Doctors on audio, namely bringing Tim Treloar on board to voice the Third Doctor, as originally portrayed by the late, great Jon Pertwee. Thankfully, it worked a treat and, though they don’t have the original star of the era, The Third Doctor Adventures boxsets have expertly echoed the style and spirit of early ‘70s Doctor Who. Vol. 3 is no exception.
The two stories that make up this boxset are full-cast audio adventures, structured in the classic format of 4x25 minute episodes. The first, ‘Conquest of Fear’ gives us our first Third Doctor audio featuring the Daleks, so naturally the man who knows more about the metal meanies than anyone else, Nicholas Briggs, writes it. If you are familiar with Briggs’ work, you’ll recognise all his tropes on display: it’s a Terry Nation-esque gung-ho war story that is packed full of action and incident. In particular, it’s a nice touch that it follows directly on from 1973 TV story Planet of the Daleks.
Alongside it we have a very different kind of story, Andrew Smith’s ‘Shadow of the Horofax.’ In contrast to Brigg’s affectionately old-school tale, Smith employs the Pertwee era staple of the alien invasion and gives it a twist worthy of Steven Moffat’s modern-era stories. Briefly put, it sees the Doctor and Jo encounter an alien woman, Arianda, who is able to see both the past and the future, on a ship that has been contaminated with time disruption. As such, this naturally leads to what we nowadays call “timey-wimey” storytelling. The result is a tale that, while it doesn’t recreate the writing style of the Pertwee era as much as previous stories, is a strong ideas-led Doctor Who adventure in its own right.
While the writers provide the scripts, it is the boxset’s talented duo of leading actors who bring their words to life. Tim Treloar continues to skilfully walk that fine line between delivering a full-on impersonation of Jon Pertwee and acutely capturing the spirit of his performance and vocal mannerisms. On several occasions, there is a brief moment where you would swear you were listening to Pertwee. Meanwhile, Katy Manning is always a joy and she slips easily back into the role of the younger Jo, upping the energy and naivety of her performance and notching the pitch of her voice slightly higher.
Like its predecessors, The Third Doctor Adventures Vol. 3 is a thoroughly enjoyable ode to a certain era of Doctor Who. With two stories that suitably compliment and contrast with each other, this is an all-round well-written, well-compiled and well-performed set.
THE THIRD DOCTOR ADVENTURES VOL. 3 / DIRECTOR: NICHOLAS BRIGGS / WRITERS: NICHOLAS BRIGGS, ANDREW SMITH / STARRING: TIM TRELOAR, KATY MANNING, GEORGE WATKINS, JOHN BANKS, AMY NEWTON, ROBIN WEAVER, IAIN BATCHELOR, ROBERT HANDS / PUBLISHER: BIG FINISH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW