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The Council of Nicaea

Doctor Who: The Big Finish Audio Adventures #71
Paul Clarke

Having previously co-written the entertaining 'Seasons of Fear' with husband Paul Cornell, Caroline Symcox finally gets a solo Big Finish story with 'The Council of Nicaea', a "pure" historical that exploits her extensive knowledge of church history. The result is a fascinating story set in "Nicaea, the year 325, a few days before the council is set to begin", a period of history I know little about and previously had no interest in. Insofar as I can tell, the era is well captured, and in a rather novel move, the danger to the Doctor and his companions stems from dissenting factions as the theological arguments fly. The theology is well utilized, and quite interesting, since the crux of the argument here is that whether Christ is divine or not; understandably, Peri thinks this is a trivial thing to argue over, whereas Erimem, who understands just how influential a force religion can be, and realizes that it is important enough for the Emperor to involve himself, is more understanding. And this provides that driving force behind 'The Council of Nicaea'.

The dissent between the members of the TARDIS crew is crux of 'The Council of Nicaea' and builds from the start, as the Doctor brings his companions to Nicaea by choice: whereas Erimem is very excited at being relatively close to home, Peri is unimpressed at the thought of staying in a probably-insect-infected local hotel, and is annoyed that the Doctor failed to get invitations to the council, prompting him to plaintively ask her, "Really Peri, must you be so pessimistic?!" It is Erimem however, who causes him the most trouble, when she learns that Arius cannot speak at the council to defend his beliefs, but will be persecuted for them if the council so decides. She is outraged at this injustice, proclaiming, "I have seen too much oppression" and decides to help Arius whether Peri and the Doctor like it or not. Inevitably, this brings her deeply into conflict with the Doctor, who predictably declares, "We have already know what happens here, we cannot change history." Symcox exploits the fact that Erimem's future is uncertain; her stories all take place between 'Planet of Fire' and 'The Caves of Androzani', so although we know that Peri will still be with the Doctor by the latter story, Erimem's fate remains an open book.

'The Council of Nicaea' is very much Erimem's story, and Caroline Morris again rises to the occasion with an emotional and passionate performance. Always more volatile than Peri, Erimem wants to change history: when she's old, "The Christian Church is powerful from this point on. Change that and you change the world", a prospect that she finds rather tempting having previously met Richelieu. Less likely than Peri to directly disobey the experienced Doctor, and without the desire to eventually be returned to her home time, she refuses to leave in the TARDIS at the end of Episode One, in a superb cliffhanger. Furious that the Doctor is willing merely to stand by and observe (something that Symcox no doubt realizes the listener will take for granted in a pure historical but not in any other type of Doctor Who story), she clashes with Peri when she tries to make Erimem see reason, angrily declaring, "This is not my friend Peri talking, this is a puppet of the Doctor!" and she uses her leadership skills to raise an organized mob, much to Arius' discomfort. Nevertheless, she gradually comes to understand the views of others, admitting, "I can understand Constantine better now; he wishes for peace, and if he has to make sacrifices to achieve it, he will do", and ultimately she apologizes to the Doctor and Peri at the end. She also, despite her passion for her adopted cause, never truly turns her back on them, at one point fretting, "The Doctor and Peri have long been my friends. I fear for them left with the Emperor." "I forgot: there's more to being a leader than ideals."

With Erimem insisting on undertaking her own personal crusade, the Doctor is very long-suffering here, reluctantly agreeing to stay and help her keep her promise. Despite this, he loses his temper with a companion for perhaps the first time since he shouted at Adric in 'Earthshock', when Erimem passionately speaks out in the council, thus getting the Doctor into trouble, and he snarls, "This is no place for childish ideas of honour, you're putting us all at risk!" The Doctor's non-interventionist stance, which conveniently only ever seems to apply to pre-twentieth century Earth, is placed under some scrutiny from others here too, such as when Arius tells him, "You cannot walk away from this" when the Doctor slightly hypocritically condemns the deaths of people in the name of "abstract truths". Peter Davison is once more superb here, getting a relatively rare chance to portray the Doctor really losing his temper, and gives the impression that the Doctor is deeply distressed to be so at odds with his friends, especially after he brims with enthusiasm at the start and smugly gets gets his companions past the centurion by quoting convenient bits of scripture at him on the holiness of women.

As for Peri, she spends most of 'The Council of Nicaea' caught between the Doctor and Erimem and desperately tries to intervene. As such, she has just as important a role in the plot as the Doctor and Erimem, albeit a more quiet one. She maintains her faith in the Doctor, admitting, "If you say she's at risk of changing the future, I believe you", but she also sympathizes with Erimem's stance and acts as mediator, reasonably telling the Doctor, "It doesn't feel entirely fair for a man to be punished for speaking his mind." She also sympathizes with Arius, and her general air of reason here results in a great scene in which Constantine puts his trust in Peri and she goes to Erimem to explain what is happening. Peri tells her, "I still disagree with what you're doing, but you're my friend Erimem. I couldn't let you do something like this alone"; her quiet, earnest approach almost certainly plays a part in the fact that, rather impressively, Erimem ultimately orchestrates a peaceful demonstration, which Constantine listens to. Nicola Bryant captures Peri's desire to see her friends stop arguing very convincingly, although continue to find her new, revised American accent sufficiently different from the one that she used on television to be distracting, even if it is apparently more realistic.

With so much focus on the regulars, most of the supporting characters remain just that, although Steve Kynman's performance as the devoted and likeable Arius is worthy of note. However, in the face of stiff competition from the regulars, David Bamber almost eclipses them as Emperor Constantine, filling the role with power, charisma, and an air of ruthless pragmatism. Constantine is volatile and frustrated by events and Bamber depicts his ill-suppressed moods magnificently, roaring lines such as, "I am on no one's side!" with real conviction. Constantine is a complex character, who remains intimidating throughout, flatly promising, "If I have to spill a little more blood to keep the empire together, so be it." When Erimem shouts at him that he is the "worst kind of hypocrite", touching a raw nerve, and he nearly kills the Doctor for it. Despite this edge of danger however, he also exhibits the weight of his responsibilities. The lines, "I am your Emperor! I keep the peace whilst the debates go on… I push the debate neither to one side nor the other" and "It is true that I desire peace within the church, but that is not a selfish wish, that is what the church needs" sum this up, and he clearly isn't beyond the reason: Erimem's argument eventually wins him round, and when he first meets the Doctor he notes with some surprise but a degree of respect, "It is a rare thing in the Empire, a man who tries to stop violence." Symcox doesn't let the listener forget the brutality of the era however; the story's positive ending is tainted when the Doctor tells Erimem and Peri what the next few years will hold, and neutrally explains that Constantine eventually had his scheming wife Fausta steamed to death to punish her treachery.

Overall, 'The Council of Nicaea' is a considerable success, demonstrating to anyone who doubted it that Caroline Symcox can write just as well, if not better, on her own as with her husband, and providing further evidence, should any be needed, of the potential of historical Doctor Who stories. It also again illustrates just how effective a companion Erimem makes, even as it reminds the listener that as yet, we have no clue as to when she'll be leaving the TARDIS crew, or in what circumstances…

Richard Radcliffe

When I heard the subject matter of this Audio, many months before its release - I figured it was cashing in on the popularity of The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown. Certainly more people these days are interested in the early days of Christianity than they used to be - and this is in large measure because of Dan Browns bestseller. But Big Finish isn't a jumper onto of Bandwagons - and this drama proves it. This is not another spin off from the Da Vinci Code - a series of books that is threatening to fill libraries all by themselves. It stands on its own. It certainly doesn't hinder the listener if you are familiar with that conspiracy strewn, but page turning, read.

The reason for the subject matter lies squarely at the door of Caroline Symcox. This is a classic case of writing about something you are familiar with, and as a theological student Mrs Cornell has studied this period in great detail. However, no matter how much you know about your subject matter, it takes a great deal of skill to turn something as dry as the philosophical/doctrinal intrigues of early Christianity into a well structured audio play that interests and entertains.

Caroline Symcox focuses on the common interest, yet mixes it with court intrigue too. The facts are there about the Council, but it is how it affected the rank and file - the common man - that the main interest lies.

I'm also glad that she was persuaded to write a pure Historical, as opposed to the Scaroth infested synopses that was originally planned. There's not a very high percentage of Doctor Who Stories that are pure Historicals, yet time and time again they produce some of the best Doctor Who Tales (whether Audio, TV or Book). Great decision - Gary Russell and co.

The 5th Doctor, Peri and Erimem have been quietly forming a strong bond. It's an intriguing TARDIS team too, with all bringing much to the table. They have now clocked up 7 stories together - and the trio is clearly working very well. I would argue that this is their finest story together - it's also their most testing - and there are plenty of disagreements along the way.

The rather large cast are excellent. There is no weak link. 3 particularly stand out:-

Peter Davison - The 5th Doctor. It's a splendid turn from this brilliant actor portraying a brilliant Doctor. In Peri and Erimem he has found companions so much more suited to his personality than their TV counterparts. He leads the lines in this Audio, and the importance of the situation is never above or beyond him.

Caroline Morris - Erimem. The Script demands a lot from this lovely actress, and she is equal to it. I wouldn't hesitate to state aswell that this is one of the most intelligent roles that any Companion has ever had. This play highlights how different she is from the vast majority of the Doctors companions. Her Character is more in tune with the times, and takes the lack of Justice evident in Nicaea personally. It's a real action heroine role, yet full of subtlety aswell. It's stressed that her bugbear is not with any particular philosophy, but with Honour, or Justice. She positively demands that all sides be heard, without prejudice. It's a wonderful role - and Caroline Morris is brilliant at it.

David Bamber - Emperor Constantine. He's the special Guest Star here - and his turn as the leader of this World is as strong as it should be. Thriving on the script, he grabs the reigns of this hugely significant world leader - and really dominates. Terrific.

Everyone else is very good, including Nicola Bryant as Peri. Her problem here, and it's not really a problem, is that there are 3 roles stronger. Peri is rather anachronistic, taking a back seat to her friend Erimem. Yet ultimately she becomes central to the plot. Another example of Caroline Symcoxs mastery of the key players of the drama.

Council of Nicaea is a mightily intriguing story. The way this massively significant event affected all is superbly depicted. From philosophers, to soldiers, to the common man, to Emperors. It affected them all - and all are on show here. That's the greatness of this Audio - it's sheer breadth. The events of History can be approached from so different ways - but the paramount interest for me has always been how it affects the people living at that time.

One of the best Historical dramas in Doctor Whos illustrious History. 9/10

Steve Manfred

"The Council of Nicaea" is far and away the best Erimem story since "The Church and the Crown" almost three years ago. This could be construed as faint praise considering what I thought of all her stories since then, but this is a very, very top notch story that manages to be exciting, fun, serious, and educational all at the same time. It has, I think, only one pretty serious flaw. The rest of it is magnificent.

In some ways this could be considered a brave story to do, having the Doctor investigate the origins of the modern Christian church(es). He's doing it as an intellectual and historical exercise, but even in this context there's great potential for ruffling of feathers and causing offense, and so authors of all science fiction and fantasy tend to stay away from subject matter like this. It does start to beg the question of why he doesn't go all the way back and try to visit Jesus Christ himself, and that I'm sure is a bridge too far for any author to tackle, but this in no way harms the story in front of us right here.

Where the story excels is in the niches it places all of the main characters, as though they're all at different positions on a tug-of-war rope. The anchors on opposite ends of the rope are of course Arius and Athanasius, each representing as they do the different theological positions which to us today (and to Peri) look like distinctions without much difference. Everyone else winds up somewhere in the middle of the rope (or as the rope itself, getting pulled on) and they just keep pulling until the end of the story when Erimem and the Doctor each manage to get their sides to, in effect, just drop the rope at the same time, peacefully. It's a very nice solution to the story where for once loads of people don't get killed and no explosions go off or anything like that, and yet it's dramatic.

I also very much like that the guest characters, with one exception, are not painted as caricatures, and nor do any of them leap straight to the most brutal solutions when the Doctor or Erimem interfere with things. Constantine is painted as a pragmatic ruler who wants peace and unity in the Empire above all else, and who doesn't leap to the spilling of blood without trying other options first. Mind you, he will if he feels he has to, and he's not above other chicanery to get what he wants, such as sending his guards to follow Peri and the Doctor when he'd earlier said they had a day to work things out on their own. Arius is painted as a true believer in his take on Christianity, but he doesn't let that blind him into using it to justify evil acts, and is always trying to avoid it. (His follower Clement isn't as self-controlled and does use violence and pays a personal price for doing so.) Even the Centurion who keeps arresting the Doctor and the companions isn't your typical "Doctor Who" guard who's brutal first before asking questions; he doesn't threaten to torture his prisoners, just to lock them up. The one character who is a typical "Doctor Who" villain-type is Athanasius, who's trying to stir up the mobs against Arius and manipulate the Council from behind-the-scenes. What's interesting though is that he's almost a sub-plot, while the rest of the story seems to move on almost without much input from him. I rather like this idea, that the most radical leader of the religious strife will end up more of a footnote in history. (and indeed the Doctor tells us his ultimate fate at the end, and he was indeed exiled while Arius was allowed to return to the Empire)

The most interesting material is of course the dynamic going on between the Doctor and Erimem, with Peri smack in the middle like the child trying to stop her parents getting a divorce. In a way, it's a retelling of "The Aztecs," where there it was the Doctor and Barbara arguing over an ancient civilization's religion and her attempts to change it. The difference here is that the "rules" have changed. That first argument happened under a producer/script editor regime that thought it was physically impossible to change the past, and so the story had Barbara doomed to failure. We think differently these days, with the Doctor explaining that this is an instance where one person really can make a very big difference (and he does so in a way which I think allows for "Aztecs" to still work), and Erimem really could do the sort of thing that the Doctor is always trying to stop other renegade time travellers from doing. This of course puts them into a very awkward situation, where the Doctor has to start to treat Erimem almost like one of those villains, and yet bite his tongue at times because he knows she means well and, well, she's a friend of his, and he just can't go all the way in opposing her. I do think, however, that Erimem is lucky she travels with _this_ Doctor and not the First, Sixth, or perhaps especially the Ninth, as they might perhaps be quicker to turn on her and do something more nasty. (The circumstances were quite different, but we saw what the Ninth does with companions who let him down in "The Long Game.") It all turns out well, though... for three episodes you can't see how these two are going to come back together again and be friends, but the nonviolent solution they come up with in the fourth does the trick very nicely.

My only problem with this story, and it's a pretty significant one, is with the apparent ease that Erimem has in believing everything Arius says to such a degree that she'll ignore what the Doctor is telling her about this time in history and the rules of time travel and pit herself so strongly against him. (though it did make for a corker of a cliffhanger for part one) OK, yes, Arius did help save her life, and he's a nice level-headed guy and all that, but I just can't buy that she'd turn around on her friends so suddenly just so that he can get a fair hearing. And why does she buy everything he says about Constantine as being hieroglyphic truth so quickly and completely? I didn't get this at all, and as a result, Erimem's fighting the Doctor on this never quite rang true, interesting though it was to listen to.

Other things that were interesting to listen to were the uniformly excellent performances of the cast, particularly Peter Davison and Caroline Morris who made the most of the good material they were given. Among the guest cast, the standouts were David Bamber as Constantine and Claire Carroll as Fausta, both managing to be regal and commanding at all times without sounding too imperious. Oh, and did anyone else think that the drunk-Peri we hear Nicola Bryant give us in Part Four sounds a little like Iris? The sound design and music seemed a little better than the average as well... I particularly liked the birdsong everywhere, for without that it'd be easy for us to think of the interiors as being completely enclosed (which I don't think they would've been in Nicaea) as we're used to. I always have a lot of time for a score by Russell Stone, as well. I wouldn't call it one of his best-ever, but it's very, very good nonetheless.

All in all then... 8 out of 10. If I could've bought Erimem's "conversion" it'd probably have been a 9 or maybe a 10. But it's still a terrific story.

Lawrence Conquest

It is perhaps inevitable that as a new character authors have tended towards developing Erimem rather than the long-established Peri, and The Council of Nicaea is another story where the young Egyptian dominates proceedings. The key dramatic driving force of this play is that Erimem is an inexperienced enough time traveller not to know what Peri, and every single Doctor Who, knows by heart – “You can’t rewrite history – not one line!”

The Aztec’s casts a long shadow over any Doctor Who historical’s, and in many ways The Council of Nicaea is a direct re-write of that 1964 classic, albeit with a new TARDIS crew and a new historical setting. In many instances such a flagrant use of one of the series staple storytelling templates would have had me instantly criticising the authors lack of ambition, but unlike those old friends ‘base under siege’, ‘aliens invade Earth’, or modern day favourite the ‘temporal paradox’ story, it’s been a while since we had a genuine alien-free ‘don’t alter the time-lines’ historical, and the drama this situation provides for our regulars is so damn enjoyable I’m prepared to overlook it this once.

One aspect of the true historical is that it should educate the listener in some manner, and for me this release is a bonus as I have not one ounce of prior knowledge on the actual council of Nicaea. As Peri notes, it’s hard to take the religious semantics being debated as having any real effect upon world history, but I’ll take Caroline Symcox at her word. One worry was that by using a Christian setting certain beliefs would be pushed onto the listener with this audio, but thankfully any blatant evangelism is absent. One aspect of the story that does disappoint a little is the ending, where inevitably the whole aspect of changing history is shown to be a moot point, though really this story is more concerned with the relationships of the three TARDIS crew members than any issues with time. Another slight quibble is that the story doesn’t quite stretch to four episodes, with Symcox noticeably falling back on the tried and tested time-waster of having character go through the old capture-escape-capture-escape routine in the last couple of episodes, and this story could probably have survived having a bit of excess flab cut off and been released as a single disc story, but alas Big Finish’s subscriber commitment to providing a monthly double disc knocks that idea on the head…

Though the script requires her to be just a little too naïve, and perhaps slightly more eloquent than one would expect, Caroline Morris does well as Erimem, and her arguments with Peter Davison’s Doctor are some of the play’s highlights as they stem from real issues, rather than the sort of petty arguments the 6th Doctor and Peri used to get into. Talking of Peri it is perhaps inevitable that being in the ‘big sister’ role she rather gets sidelined in this release, and beyond a little bit of ‘drunk’ acting there’s little here for Nicola Bryant to get her teeth into – one hopes that eventually someone will lavish as much story time on Peri as some of the other characters.

The Council of Nicaea is ultimately too dependant on long-established Doctor Who story-telling concepts to every be a truly ground-breaking release, but for fans of this TARDIS team this is a very strong outing, with an intelligent script, some all round good performances, and a joyous lack of evil aliens. More historical’s please Big Finish?

Joe Ford

Astonishingly good, not only the best Big Finish release in a year but so good it gives me some faith that 2005 might see a swing of fortune for the company’s Doctor Who releases. Only The Game has come this close to perfection, every other release this years has been either average (Catch-1782, The Juggernauts) or poor (Three’s a Crowd, Dreamtime, Unregenerate). It would appear that the fifth Doctor releases are slipping ahead of the sixth as the most fulfilling in recent times.

This is going to sound bizarre but this is the first release in ages that I have genuinely wanted to see through to the end, such was my interest in what was going on. I had forgotten how nice that can feel! Usually I plod through the episodes wondering when it will get better but The Council of Nicaea had the opposite reaction, I was waiting for it to plummet downhill such was the levels of drama achieved but it never, ever happened, this is a story which sees its striking ideas through to a satisfying climax.

Bless Caroline Symcox, one of the few writers who has bothered to remember that Erimem is not your regular companion but an ex-Pharaoh, a leader, a woman who controlled the whole of Egypt. Too many writers have tried to shoe-horn Erimem into a generic companion role, one which does not suit her which Three’s a Crowd has proven. But like her stunning exploration in the otherwise average Roof of the World, The Council of Nicaea places this unusual companion in the limelight and forces her to make some extremely difficult decisions. I can imagine people were appalled that she would turn her back on the Doctor and Peri so severely for a cause she has only just heard about but I found her strength of character and morals extremely impressive, a far cry from your average ‘Yes Doctor’ companions. She has a mind of her own, a personality strong enough to stand up and shout down bullies and liars. I was convinced she would be persuaded to change her mind but she held strong to her ideals and come episode four she is leading groups to the Palace to have their say. This is a fabulous experience for Caroline Morris who gives her best performance ever as Erimem, look at the pictures in the inside sleeve, she is a small, cute looking woman but judging by the strength of her voice and the power behind her dialogue you could never tell that. This is the sort of material Maggie Stables gets in every story which explains why Evelyn is so much more popular than Erimem but had Morris received scripts of this strength more often I could imagine her matching that popularity.

There seems to be a pattern emerging with Big Finish, their historical adventures are so much stronger than their science-fiction adventures that it astonishes me that they haven’t produced a pure-historical in two and half years! Audio is the ideal medium to explore historical periods, a media that champions language and writing rather than visuals, focussing on strong characterisation and performances. Remember the striking Vesuvius themed drama The Fires of Vulcan? Or the charming Marian Conspiracy, which explored courtly politics? The Council of Nicaea does not quite reach the heights of those two gems but it does concentrate on a period that I knew very little of and dramatizes it in a way that made it easy to understand and even easier to enjoy. Even better I left the story having learnt something, which is always a plus (obviously) and makes the experience worthwhile.

The problem is simple, the Church is divided over a simple case of Christ’s origins, one faction believing he was delivered naturally and the other convinced it was divinity that brought him to us. It is a fascinating, simple argument, which Peri understandably has a shocking reaction to (brilliantly she bursts into laughter), unable to comprehend how such hatred and violence could spring from such a minor detail. But as we all know it is the minor details that make the world go around and the rift between the two factions grows wider as street riots erupt, people are murdered and a young Egyptian stands up and speaks out for the minority group. Religious themed stories are working a treat these days, with Faith Stealer pleasingly poking fun at its diversity and now The Council of Nicaea beautifully exploring the consequences of differences of opinion in the Church. Faith is a deadly thing to question as we all cling dearly to our individual beliefs and will do almost anything to save others from leading their lives by opposing ideals, which this story brings up in a powerful fashion.

I have to admit I was scared that this would turn into a rehash of The Aztecs especially with the familiar arguments of changing history cropping up in episode one but my fears were immediately allayed when the girls bring up the fact that they change history all the time in future events (a point which I have often thought about and felt should be said to the Doctor when he gets on his moral high horse in these historical stories). Instead of focussing on the terrible damage Erimem’s actions could do to the timelines the story instead focuses on what damage changing the timelines could do to Erimem, which is a far more interesting idea. The Doctor’s concern for his companion is keenly felt, even when he is frustrated at her lack of self control with her beliefs there is always the feeling that he is looking out for her, trying to protect her from her own actions. The story provokes some electric moments between the Doctor and Erimem, a far cry from the tedious tension between the fifth Doctor and Tegan, this spanking new audio fifth Doctor clashes with his companions in genuinely dramatic, well written scenes.

There is often a feeling that the Doctor and Peri are closer than the Doctor and Erimem and it is spelt out in black and white here when he threatens to leave Erimem behind in the TARDIS at the end of episode one. Peri is shown to be the adhesive force between these two characters, gelling them into a family unit and reminding the pair of them how out of hand things are getting. Nicola Bryant is on form here and the bond between Peri and Erimem is tested to breaking point in several tense scenes and for a while I genuinely believed the three of them would not be travelling together at the end of the story. It is so good that we have Symcox around to remind us that you can drive some startling drama between the regulars and it takes particularly good writing to suggest a split and convincingly reunite them at the climax. Needless to say their reunion is very touching.

The story is boosted by several strong performances from the best guest cast assembled in AGES. Historical characters often talk in a florid, melodramatic fashion and it is easy to overplay such roles but the actors in this tale acquit themselves superbly. David Bamber provides a complex Constantine, cherishing the difficult task of acting out this multi-faceted character, neither entirely good or bad but exhibiting signs of both. Steve Kynman is equally good as Arius, convincing as an outcast voice in the political Church. It was hard not to sympathise with his cause, especially when he wasn’t even allowed to defend himself to the Council. Although she was mainly a background character I thought Claire Carroll was also very memorable as Constantine’s wily missus Faustus. I especially enjoyed her scenes with Peri, getting the young American hammered so she could discover more information about the Doctor and Erimem.

There was a little touch of The Unquiet Dead to the climax which sees the Doctor telling his companions the fates of the people they have been around for the past few days but considering the complexity of the characterisation even this was much needed, a pleasing reminder that their lives will continue long after the Doctor has vanished.

On the Outpost Gallifrey forum there is an excellent review thread in the Big Finish section run by a bloke who goes under the name of Styre. It is well worth taking a look if you are thinking of dipping into Big Finish as he has review every single story from The Sirens of Time to The Natural History of Fear (which is as far as I have read). The reason I bring this up is that Styre made an extremely astute observation the other day about Gary Russell’s direction. It all goes with the quality of the script, if he gets a good one his direction is usually smashing but if he gets a duffer…well you know. This is fantastic script so can you imagine what the direction is like? Moody, atmospheric, dramatic and exciting…this is the Gary Russell who introduced us to the delights of audio Doctor Who. A big, big thumbs up.

What else is there to say? I can almost imagine people failing to enjoy this because it is so much more complex and thoughtful then the Big Finish norm but if you can forgive the historical genre (which I personally love but some people really avoid…) there is an absolute winner to be found here. It has certainly boosted Caroline Symcox as one of the top Big Finish writers and I would snap her up again quick before the new series peeps over at her stunning work and thief another of BFs best writers!

Challenging and rewarding.