With the release of December’s Static, Big Finish reaches number 233 in the main range of Doctor Who titles, the core of their output since 1999. They might be forgiven for a touch of complacency, but this title demonstrates the range is still in its prime. On a side-note, it’s also the last title on which Alan Barnes is acting as script editor, and he selected Jonathan Morris to write this final story under his watch.
Putting the occasion to one side, Static has all the ingredients of a classic Christmas ghost story: stone circles, an old RAF research station and a caravan site that’s never seen better days, and where the use of radios and portable televisions is banned. It’s the 1980s, and Andy Clover (Scott Chambers) has brought his girlfriend Joanna on a getaway weekend to breathe the life back into their relationship. Enter the eerie world of Static and the sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) with companions Philippa ‘Flip’ Ramon (née Jackson) played by Lisa Greenwood and Mrs Constance Clarke (Miranda Raison). Add to this caravan site manager Percy Till (played by 92-year-old David Graham, aka Parker from Thunderbirds and original voice of the Daleks) and you have all the ingredients for a gripping tale.
This is a well-layered story, and at every turn Jonathan takes care to not just tell a good story but take the plot up a level. It starts gently with Andy and Joanna falling into the world of the supernatural, then the Doctor appears and splits his companions. The ever-caring Flip stays in the caravan site, supporting Joanna through grief, while the Doctor takes Constance (who was/is a serving Wren from Bletchley Park) back to the war to find out the relevance of the RAF research centre. The revelation is clever, and weaves death, horror and the supernatural into a science fiction tale. It’s easy to compare Static to Quatermass, and as easy to compare it to Timeslip. The build of the story is immaculate, and the reveals on the journey will surprise.
Under Jamie Anderson’s direction, the cast take their time building the tension, as a very down-to-earth story of loss and relationships drifts into horror then science fiction then an almost existential drama, with the most muted of happy endings.
Big Finish released Static earlier this month, with full details available on their website for this and the rest of the main range of Doctor Who stories.
Static is a chilly tale, unafraid to explore our reaction to death. It’s also much more than that – it’s a good story, well told, well acted and well produced. Long live the main range!
STATIC / DIRECTOR: JAMIE ANDERSON / WRITER: JONATHAN MORRIS / STARRING: COLIN BAKER, LISA GREENWOOD, MIRANDA RAISON / PUBLISHER: BIG FINISH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW