Iris Wildthyme is one of those odd Doctor Who-related characters that you discover when you step outside the cosy world of the TV shows. Iris was invented by writer Paul Magrs and is a sort of a parody/skewed look at the world of The Doctor. Iris travels around time and space in a double decker bus (which is smaller on the inside), claims to be very long lived, is highly knowledgeable and tends to pick up unusual companions. Her stories tend to do and say things you wouldn’t normally find in a story that involves The Doctor and his TARDIS.
Wildthyme also resembles the actress Katy Manning, and Katy plays the character in this selection of Iris-inspired audios. Wildthyme Reloaded brings together eight short Wildthyme audios, each about 30 to 40 minutes long. We begin with Comeback of the Scorchies by James Goss. Scorchies are malicious fairy-like puppets who first appeared in a Third Doctor audio story which also featured Katy Manning. Goss has a laugh at his own creations here, with the horrible little monsters trying to destroy the galaxy through the power of song. It’s quite silly and a great start to the set.
Next up is Dark Side, a tale that should be a ghost story but is more Victorian high camp, followed by Oracle of the Supermarket, a very English sort of close encounter with David Warner doing a star turn throughout. Next up is Mark B. Oliver’s Murder at the Abbey. Again, this begins as a rather tedious murder drama but the tale’s inherent tropes are mocked mercilessly by the simple presence of Wildthyme in the story. The Slots of Giza is a nice poke at all thing Vegas and with a loving pastiche of Liberace. High Spirits is a much more Doctor Who-style spooky story, improved vastly with Wildthyme’s own sense of sarcasm. An Extraterrestrial Werewolf in Belgium is a humdrum tale rescued by some excellent character development, and the whole thing is capped off with the marvellous Looking for a Friend. This final story focuses on Iris’ own insecurities and provides an amazing overview of the series. It’s also quite funny, and written by Magrs, the character’s creator.
The production and acting is of the high quality that we’ve come to expect from Big Finish. Manning is especially delightful as the harpy-like and very Mancunian Iris Wildthyme, and Geoffrey Breton turns in a fun performance as the perpetually befuddled Captain Turner.
If you don’t know Iris Wildthyme, and you’re looking to stretch your horizons into all things Who-related, then this is for you.
WILDTHYME RELOADED / DIRECTOR: SCOTT HANDCOCK / PUBLISHER: BIG FINISH / AUTHOR: VARIOUS / STARRING: KATY MANNING, GEOFFREY BRETON, IAN HALLARD, CHRIS RANKIN, NICOLA BRYANT, LISA BOWERMAN, DAVID WARNER / RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 31ST