As always, Purves does a great job as Steven, as he is when also being the Narrator or the Doctor. Like William Russell (best known as Ian Chesterton) before him, Purves does a solid job of capturing the different emotions and intonations of William Hartnell’s Doctor, and as a result, you do get that sense of mystery and awe that Hartnell brought to the role. Also, principal Sontaran veteran Dan Starkey (Strax in the TV stories) returns, and once again, this just shows how much input he brings to the Sontarans like Nick Briggs does with the Daleks and the Cybermen. With these audio stories, he doesn’t try to make them sound like the Sontarans from the Revived Era, instead, capturing the chilling menace Kevin Lindsay brought to the Sontaran roles of Linx and Styre.
Speaking of which, this story excels in making the Sontarans the rough, intimidating brutes they used to be in the Classic Era, using extreme methods as means of tactical examination, as well as adopting new methods to infiltrate their enemies’ ranks. While Revived Era Sontarans are cool, they sometimes lose that menace and intimidation due to the humour used in the scripts, but here, though, this story feels like an old school, traditional Sontaran tale. Plus, we see more of Jean Marsh’s Sara Kingdom in action and how she contends with the Sontarans, as well as how the events of this story ties into the grander tale of The Daleks’ Master Plan.
Overall, what we have with this audio adventure is a very traditional Sontaran story that is superbly written by Simon Guerrier, and helps bring the nasty, brutish and short enemies onto the world of the 1st Doctor. It is brilliantly played all around by its minimalist, yet effective cast and has great direction by Ken Bentley, which all gives you a good reason to check this one out when you are able.
DOCTOR WHO: THE SONTARANS / WRITER: SIMON GUERRIER / DIRECTOR: KEN BENTLEY / PRODUCER: DAVID RICHARDSON / STARRING: PETER PURVES, JEAN MARSH, DAN STARKEY, JEMMA CHURCHILL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (BIG FINISH SITE), JANUARY 31ST (ELSEWHERE)