The Big Finish main range of Doctor Who stories kicks off 2018 with Kingdom of Lies, a fifth Doctor (Petr Davison) story written by Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky. In many ways, it’s a classic farce with a mad almost silly setting, a fractured marriage, assassins and much mistaken identity. It’s the sort of story the range needs occasionally, and the TARDIS crew of Tegan (Janet Fielding), Nyssa (Sara Sutton) and Adric (Matthew Waterhouse) suit this kind of story well.
Welcome to the wonderfully named Cicero Prime, a Hollywood style kingdom of castles, peasants, killer drone and the deadly off-world assassin The Scorpion. Sebastian, Duke of Cardenas (Jonathan Firth) and his wife of one year, Duchess Miranda (Charlotte Lucas) are in the midst of a messy failed marriage. Each has an advisor, Sebastian has Amelia (Harriet Thorpe), and Miranda has Tomek (Piotr Hatherer), and the advisors are each involved in guiding the ducal couple, engaging off-world support, and generally keeping events moving. The TARDIS crew (of course) gets split into two pairs, and each finds some degree of favour with the Duke (the Doctor and Nyssa) or Duchess (Adric and Tegan). The story allows some superb overacting from several companions, and Nyssa has to deal with the deadly Weapons of Death, the Doctor has to arrange several murders, and theirs plenty of fun to be had.
The story also stars Patsy Kensit, and while her role only appears in the final chunk of the story, its memorable and delivered with chilling edge. There are plenty of twists, some more obvious than others, and one is a real game changing moment. It’s a difficult thing to write a good farce having humour, ridiculous moments and yet depth, and in the case of Kingdom of Lies, the writers have shown their skills to great effect.
Kingdom of Lies entertains, and director Barnaby Edwards has a steady hand on the tiller as he steers the story through two entertaining discs. It’s a pity Tegan was somewhat underused, but that’s common with this particular crew, and there are two more releases coming giving her plenty of opportunity. It’s a great piece of entertainment, and an antidote to grim January weather.
KINGDOM OF LIES / AUTHOR: ROBERT KHAN, TOM SALINSKY / WRITER: ROBERT KHAN, TOM SALINSKY / STARRING: PETER DAVISON, JANET FIELDING, SARAH SUTTON, MATTHEW WATERHOUSE, PATSY KENSIT, JONATHAN FIRTH, CHARLOTTE LUCAS / PUBLISHER: BIG FINISH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW