Review: White Ghosts (Doctor Who) / Author: Alan Barnes / Publisher: Big Finish / Starring: Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Virginia Hey, Bethan Walker, Gbemisola Ikumelo, James Joyce / Release Date: Out Now
White Ghosts is the second story in the third series of the Fourth Doctor Adventures from Big Finish. Starring Tom Baker with Louise Jameson as Leela, this is a single disc adventure written by Alan Barnes.
Once more the Time Lords have interfered in the Doctor’s wanderings and he narrowly misses being hit by a missile which is en route for a planet that only has one single day of daylight every 1,000 years. Landing on the planet, they encounter a survey team with several secrets. More immediate is the fact that any exposure to daylight causes ferocious plants to arise almost instantly and these pale blossoms known as the White Ghost are more used to living on dead flesh than photosynthesising.
The story links to the previous King of Sontar in that the relationship between Leela and the Doctor is being redefined. This gives Louise Jameson plenty of opportunity to show just how versatile she can be even though portraying someone allegedly primitive. Remember, primitive does not equal stupid. The wider cast all do well as a team of students dabbling in genetic and botanic research. So far, so solid, but the story takes a turn for the worse as it approaches its ending and several liberties are taken with physical law just to shoehorn in an ending. Perhaps this was an attempt at variety and perhaps also not everyone is as concerned with physics as I am; after all this is a programme about time travel, regenerating aliens and hundreds of other unlikely things. Coupled with some apparently arbitrary aliens, this takes the shine off a good story that the cast clearly enjoyed performing.
Production wise there is nothing to criticise – the dark landscape and White Ghosts are well imagined in sound, direction is crisp and as mentioned all the actors play their parts admirably. If only it weren't for the story's mistreatment of the laws of physics, which spoil the end of an otherwise very solid offering. Apparently the BBC have decided that they need a scientific advisor for Doctor Who to move it away from being a pure fantasy – perhaps the same is also true for Big Finish.