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The One Doctor

Doctor Who: The Big Finish Audio Adventures #27
Richard Radcliffe

We are promised the most comedic story in Doctor Who's illustrious History. What we get is a Christmas Pantomime of Doctor Who. And that is NOT an insult. I like Pantomimes - my own father featured in many at the local Amateur Dramatic Society. He even directed quite a few, I am fully conversant with the genre and I like it a lot. Pantomimes can be the funniest and most entertaining format for telling a story. They are not always brilliant, but they have a long worthwhile tradition.

The success or failure of a production is largely dependent on the characters that tread the boards. Are they funny enough is usually the sole criteria of this. Our favourites when the "Whose Best" parade emerges at the end are always the cheeky narrator Buttons, and the 2 clowns that lead us in a chorus of Agadoo. There are other considerations too though in Pantomime. Are the costumes colourful enough, are the Tiny Tots as cute and disorganized as usual, are there plenty of one-liners that have you chortling in the aisles.

The One Doctor is a Pantomime, and it's a darn good one too. The most colourful Doctor, with the most bizarre appearance is a fitting star for such a production. Bonnie Langford has done a fair few turns on the stage too - companion Mel fits in nicely. Bring in one of the best Dames in the business - Christopher Biggins, ably accompanied by a cheeky - but no doubt pretty - assistant. Throw in lots of wacky creations and you have your cast.

Gareth Roberts and Clayton Hickman are the writers of this fun-packed pantomime. The first showed his credentials for such a piece with the wonderfully over the top Plotters Missing Adventure book. The latter is the new editor of DWM, what that says I don't know! They bring a script that is brimming with great one-liners, side-swipes about the Doctors physique, funny references to the DW legend. It is an hilarious piece of work with most of the jokes hitting their mark.

The cast are equal to this tomfoolery. Colin Baker has never been funnier. This Doctor has become one of the very best thanks to his performances in the Big Finish series. Christopher Biggins is the other star of the piece as the other Doctor. He is nowhere near as camp as I expected, and I was grateful for that. He is the Delboy type character for the Doctor Who universe. Creating alien threats which he knocks on the head, and impersonating the Doctor to his own ends. The swapping of companions half-way through is a great way of keeping the interest alive. Sally-Ann is played with a great deal of comedy, but charm. Bonnie Langford follows her excellent performance in Fires of Vulcan with another good turn - she, like Colin Baker, has come of age in these audio dramas.

This story is about the interplay with these 4 characters. There is time for a few cameos: the Jelloid Creature is wonderfully repulsive, providing a huge amount of slime, but also the funniest bit (the delivery service). The great entity in the sky makes his mark too, particularly his obsession with strange time denominators. The "Weakest Link" spoof is pretty funny too. But there are too many jokes to list here, and I deliberately make them vague here so as not to spoil their impact.

The One Doctor is also enhanced by 2 very nice little pieces at the start and the end. The first opens proceedings in Episode 1, but the next is about 5 minutes after the story finishes - make sure you listen to it. Very Feast of Stevenish.

The whole production is not flawless - not all the jokes work, but most of them do. Released just before Christmas it is the perfect start to the frivolity of that season. I am struggling to think of anything Doctor Who has ever done which is this funny. 9/10

Nick Mellish

‘The One Doctor’ may not be liked by everybody. For a start, those who think that comedy and ‘Doctor Who’ should not mix are going to be irritated by this offering from Big Finish Productions. Some of the scenes are a little formulaic too- the scene will apparently end, but after a few moments silence a witty one liner or amusing short conversation will occur before the next scene. Again, there are some people who will not like this. I know of people who hate the Delaware version of the ‘Doctor Who’ theme tune too, so you may want to avoid the credits to Part Three. There are those who dislike the notion of the Doctor kissing someone no matter why and where this occurs, so they will want to avoid this too. Do you not like singing, albeit brief? References to Christmas not your thing, even if they occur minutes after the play proper has ended? Do you loathe all things light-hearted? Then look away; leave ‘The One Doctor’ well alone. There’s nothing for you here, which is a pity, as you’ll be missing out.

I feel sorry for the people mentioned above; ‘The One Doctor’ is superb and some people will never know it. It’s like the fans who refuse to acknowledge anything with the ‘Doctor Who’ tag upon it that isn’t upon television- they’re only doing themselves out of some of the best things to ever be associated with ‘Doctor Who’, of which ‘The One Doctor’ is most definitely a good example. It boasts a great script, great cast, great music, great Directing… everything about it screams “Great!” from the brief burst of song (“I’m a very lonely Jelloid…”) to the observant comments on life in general (the shelves that can never be assembled; the fact that you wait forever for something, and it arrives as soon as you’re not there). Clayton Hickman and Gareth Roberts’ script is full of such moments, easily filling the ‘comedy quota’ assigned to the play.

However, I would argue that it is the sparing use of comedy at times that makes ‘The One Doctor’ work as well as it does. Despite being obviously comedic overall, it saves the uses the proper laugh-out-loud moments cautiously, never giving too much or too little to the listener at any one time, making these moments all the better. It’s not fall on the floor hilarious, nor is it a gentle comedy, but somewhere between these two extremities this play lies nicely and is all the better for doing so.

The plot is nice and simple too, which is good as it allows the story itself to flow much easier and without interruptions unless absolutely necessary. The Doctor and Mel land on the planet Generios One (in the vulgar end of time) after receiving a distress call but upon arriving there they discover that the Doctor and his assistant has apparently already saved them- or, at any rate, somebody like the Doctor…. It turns out that the Doctor and his attractive assistant Sally-Anne are actually conning the good though naïve people of Generios One, using the real Doctor’s good name to do so.

What I arguably liked most about ‘The One Doctor’ is how it sets up this scenario, and then rather than play it to the death it starts a new direction instead, moving from confrontational humour to a story of a quest. It uses the idea of the false Doctor in small doses, and as with the use of humour, this restraint helps make ‘The One Doctor’ so much better than it could have been if handled by a lesser pair of authors.

The new quest style story is akin to several ‘Doctor Who’ stories and the play proceeds to take the familiar and alter it.

Rather than have Mel and the fake Doctor (Banto Zame) fight off hoards of robots as implied by the cliffhanger to Part Two, instead they have to put together shelves by following the instructions- an impossible task; rather than make the Doctor proper and Sally-Anne defeat a power mad dictator, they instead have to participate in a quiz so like ‘The Weakest Link’ it’s a wonder they weren’t sued. ‘The One Doctor’ is clever because it uses a well known set up as its basis and is therefore able to have people accept the script as a whole much easier than if they had used this method of defamiliarisation on something more obscure.

Another wise move is the choice to have the Doctor and Mel separate during the first two tasks of the quest, with each of them pairing with the other’s equivalent. By doing this, there is again a neat juxtaposition by the recognizable and the unusual, though this is more apparent with the Doctor and Sally-Anne than with Mel and Banto. With the latter, much of the humour and comments on the Doctor/assistant relationship stems from Mel being Mel and Banto being very unlike the Doctor. Mel’s ‘rousing’ speech about being a member of the Bush family is humorously corny, and the pay off line after the scene has finished is brilliant, and is also typical of the script: it takes something you know and then turns it on its head.

Sally-Anne on the other hand undergoes a transformation; at the start, she is as useless as Banto, but soon she develops into a companion worthy of the Doctor himself. She begins to use her intelligence and to dislike Banto for what he is. She also gets a brief back-story about how she was lead into this life of crime, which almost sounds like a pitch for the role of new assistant. By the ending of ‘The One Doctor’, Sally-Anne could be a new person, but Banto has hardly changed at all, and rightly so. He begins as a slightly pompous, mostly cowardly and definitely greedy person and to alter that would be a crying shame so it is great that this does not happen; he learns nothing from the adventures he undertakes, but this is okay because he quite simply does not deserve to do so.

The jokes in ‘The One Doctor’ flow easily. My personal favourite in its brief but odd way comes when Mel and Banto are locked in a cell with the pieces of shelving and the instructions on how to put them up. She comments that she needs a screwdriver and moments later you hear one being dropped into her cell. It’s short, sweet, and made me smile like a buffoon. Another highlight comes with the aforementioned Jelloid in Part Four, who gets some of the best lines in the play and manages to be bizarrely human at the same time as being undoubtedly alien.

There are some nice in-jokes to ‘Doctor Who’ itself too, from the alternative TARDIS dematerialisation sound effect as Banto’s Porta Loo apparently takes off to the Doctor’s Christmas message that plays long after the play has finished. I also enjoyed the humorous take on the stutter start effect used sometimes in the ‘Doctor Who’ theme tune during Jon Pertwee’s ear- whilst it is used normally in Parts One and Two, in Part Four it begins as if it is being wound up. You are also treated to the unforgettable Delaware theme tune too for Part Three; I had no real reason to mention this, but I thought I’d ought to warn you now.

The acting in ‘The One Doctor’ is really strong; as the leading ladies and gentlemen, Bonnie Langford and Clare Buckfield, and Colin Baker and Christopher Biggins are brilliant. Baker and Langford get to play their roles in the way you always wanted it to be on screen, and I shall be eternally grateful for it as it made me fully realise just how much Langford was wasted- just listen how great she is hear and elsewhere in the Big Finish range. What a pity that, bar a stray Parts here and there, this never fully made it to television (through fault of the scripts I hasten to add rather than Langford herself). Biggins and Buckfield make the perfect alternate duo, with both of them making their characters both humorous and- crucially- fully believable. In some ways they are akin to a Robert Holmes double act, yet it is when they are apart that they are really allowed to spread their wings and become truly great. Biggins seems to relish the opportunity he has been presented here, and Buckfield is so good that I for one would love to hear a spin-off range charting the adventures of Sally-Anne Stubbins.

Of the Guest Cast, it was Matt Lucas who impressed me the most, with Adam Buxton and Stephen Fenwell coming a joint second. Lucas as the Jelloid delivers one of the all time great performances in ‘Doctor Who’, making the character instantly loveable and memorable. He also contrasts this nicely as the voice of the Cylinder elsewhere in the play, showing how versatile a performer he really is.

As mentioned above, I felt that Buxton and Fenwell had to come in joint second position simply due to how good they work as a double act; the two Assemblers (“Get ready to meet your manufacturer!”) are great characters that are really bought to life by the two actors.

Also superb are Jane Goddard and Nicholas Pegg with their spot-on parody of ‘The Weakest Link’; again, after the play has finished you get to hear the questions and answers in all there glory and only then can you really appreciate just what a good pair they are.

Gary Russell’s Directing is faultless; he could easily have made this all out farce or too cocky to be funny, but instead he has given it the boost it deserves to greatness. He times the punches well, delivers the scenes with exactly the right pace and uses Alistair Lock’s amazing Incidental Music with enough control to make it powerful but not overpowering. In fact, I would argue that- bar ‘Storm Warning’- this is Lock’s finest musical score.

In all, ‘The One Doctor’ is comedy and ‘Doctor Who’ at its finest; it boasts a great cast and script, excellent music and Directing and never fails to be anything but fantastic.

Clayton Hickman and Gareth Roberts have written one of the best ‘Doctor Who’ scripts ever, and there will be some people who will never know it. I find that sad.

Lawrence Conquest

While it’s a tragedy that Gareth Roberts will (seemingly) never write an audio for Tom Baker, The One Doctor presents the same skewed humour familiar to readers of Roberts 4th Doctor novels and short stories. It’s a fairly broad comedy, but crucially it still works on a dramatic level and features some sympathetic characters – two things which Exile completely forgot to do.

After the main scene setting and identity issues of fraudulent Doctor Christopher Biggins are out of the way, the story turns sets itself firmly into quest mode. Of the three quests only two are really successful. The robot furniture caretakers standing in for the Daleks role are amusing enough, and even funnier is the single-celled organism guarding the final piece of the treasure at the quests end. Unfortunately between these we are treated to a rather lacklustre parody of the quiz show The Weakest Link. Unlike the other two segment this is the same sort of lazy comedic satire you’ll find on any one of dozens of current TV sketch shows, and the fact that its so firmly based on a contemporary hit means it’s liable to become very dated very quickly. Worse, there’s a gapingly obvious flaw in the logic of the scene – a seemingly all-knowing computer is trapped into answering questions until it finds one it doesn’t know the answer to, whereupon a currently unknown code will be given to it to release it from this task. Quite clearly the most obvious way out of this quandary is for the Doctor to ask it the one thing it’s already been established it doesn’t know – ‘what is the release code’, instead we have to endure interminable scenes of the Doctor and companion puzzling over this problem before inadvertently stumbling over a completely different method of releasing it.

The cast are all on fine form, with both Colin and Bonnie displaying a fine talent for comedy without going over the top. Similarly Christopher Biggins plays his role with aplomb, and I for one would love to hear the further adventures of Banto Zame.

The One Doctor is a rather bitty, with almost sketch-like humour compared to the pacing of Bang-Bang-A-Boom!, but it’s done with such affection and charm it’s hard to dislike it. Highly recommended for everyone who loves the show enough not to take it 100% seriously.

Jonathan Dreyfus

It is a tribute to the fact that The One Doctor has been described as "the non-McGann adventure people are most awaiting" (and that it is *apparently* selling better than Storm Warning) that my copy arrived four weeks after its release date. When I finally did get it, it was with immeasurable anticipation that I pressed the play button; I'd heard some really good things about it...

The opening scene is probably one of the funniest moments in Doctor Who history, certainly in the history of Big Finish. The way it's acted out by both Colin Baker and Bonnie Langford is a delight to hear. Once I'd stopped chuckling, I suddenly had the urge to play Monopoly.

Right from that opening, Colin Baker appeared to absolutely relish every line given to him. His acting surpassed every one of his past performances, and this standard continues throughout the audio, cementing his position as The Audio Doctor.

Bonnie Langford proved beyond a shred of reasonable doubt what a wonderful companion she could have been, given a real script. Here she is given one of the finest scripts in the show's history, and she shines throughout. Her banter with Banto is one of the audio's strongest points, and the speech in Part Three about why Bushes never say die really stands out.

The comedy continues when we arrive on Generios, with Nicolas Pegg's rather absurd Citizen Sokkery. Councilor Potikol, voiced by Stephen Fewell, (Jason Kane in Big Finish's Benny Summerfield range), is very exaggerated and over-played, which is what makes him funny. The first and only slightly serious element of the story, that the Doctor is being impersonated, lasts for about 20 seconds, then we meet the imposter and his rather two-faced lover Sally-Anne.

Christopher Biggins's performance as fake Doctor and intergalactic entrepreneur Banto Zame is just outstanding. His Doctor is so obviously fake it's funny, which I'm sure is the point. The way his character progresses throughout the story is very amusing, and some of his one-liners are hilarious. Hopefully we'll meet him again some day...

Similarly excellent is Clare Buckfield as Sally-Anne Stubbins. Her character is just as interesting and funny as Banto. It's ironic that only when she's not trying to be the companion does she act like one. Her interaction with the Doctor is very unexpected, and brilliantly acted out. It is rather disappointing that she doesn't join the TARDIS crew at the conclusion, as her affection for the Doctor might have been even more amusing had it been developed in future stories.

The other two guest stars, Matt Lucas and Adam Buxton, play their small but significant roles brilliantly. Lucas, as both the Cylinder and the lonely Jelloid, is excellent, threatening in the former and pitiful in the latter. Buxton's Assembler is slightly out of keeping with other psychopathic robots, but that's very much in the style of the story: slightly out of step with tradition.

In the absence of Anne Robinson, (the host of The Weakest Link in England, for those who don't know), Jane Goddard plays the part excellently. Just the right air of snootiness and sarcasm makes her an excellent substitute, and Pegg's Mentos is, apart from being an excellent contestant, a fascinating concept. The questions are very much in the two writers' style, slightly off-the-wall but fun nonetheless.

Episode One sets the rather comic atmosphere, but only in Two do we start to get a plot. A deadly Cylinder threatens to destroy all the seventeen planets of the system unless it receives the tribute, the three greatest treasures of the Generios system. The Doctor, Mel and their counterparts set out to find these treasures. But of course, it's never as simple as that.

The story then assumes a format similar to The Keys of Marinus: a quest throughout the planet/system to find various objects vital to the survival of all on/in that planet/system. The main difference lies in the fact that in that TV story all the obstacles were serious and realistic. In The One Doctor, all the dangers, though initially serious, have the Mickey well and truly taken out of them. This is mainly because of the crazy characters that inhabit the even weirder scenarios. This isn't a bad thing; on the contrary, it makes The One Doctor unique.

The first of these set-ups is on Generios VIII. A furniture company handed over control of its manufacturing plants to Assembler Robots who, surprise surprise, went berserk and killed everyone. They continued the furniture designing, and eventually came up with one of the great treasures of the system, a very special set of transdimentional shelves that cannot be assembled... can Mel and Banto do the impossible?

On Generios XIV, the longest running quiz show in the universe, Super Brain, is entering its 33,000th year on air. The audience is all dead, but the two robots asking and answering the questions still go on. And will go on and on and on and on, until Mentos fails to answer a question. The trouble is that Mentos knows everything, and he's also one of the three treasures. How will the Doctor and Sally-Anne collect it?

The last treasure of the system is a massive diamond held down by a force field and guarded by a very lonely and understandably antisocial Jelloid who eats the Doctor whole. Come on, you'd be bad with people too if you hadn't seen anyone for 30,000,000 years. Can the Doctor do what Mel's breakfast muesli couldn't, and find a way out?

The resolution to the plot is somewhat bizarre, but plausible. I'm not going to tell you what it is, but suffice to say that you won't see it coming. And, as any Christmas special should, it ends with a fireworks display as the TARDIS vanishes into the ether. What will the Roberts/Hickman writing team bring us next Yuletide? Only time will tell...

The production values of this story are nothing short of spectacular. The last few months have seen a slight drop in the standard of music and sound design, and so it is a joy to hear the effects and music of audio maestro Alistair Lock. His sound design for The One Doctor is easily his best for the range so far; of particular note is the way he "animates" the Assemblers to make them sound like they're moving. All the sounds are perfectly realised, making the story very believable.

The music is similarly superb. The range of instrumentation is wonderfully varied, from over-the-top heralds to musical tinkling in the style of Dudley Simpson. There is a fair amount of humour in the music, particularly the hugely bombastic fanfare for the arrival of the TARDIS, which is noticed by no one, and the last note sung behind Mel's story, at the pitch she tended to scream in. In a very clever move, Lock also made all the music accompanying the fake Doctor sound very synthesized and, well, fake. Top marks to Lock for a brilliant job.

I seem to have asked this quite a lot this year, (except for Dust Breeding, which is best considered as an oil spill in the middle of a beautiful landscape), "What made this audio so brilliant?", so I won't do it here. I'll tell you.

The One Doctor is very character-based, given that the plot is very modest. One of the contributing factors is therefore that all the character actors chosen voice their parts absolutely brilliantly. Another factor is, of course, the humour of it. There aren't many side-splitting one-liners, but just the bizarreness and unexpected nature of the scenarios make it very funny. The final factor is the outstanding production by Lock.

All of these factors make The One Doctor the one audio I'd recommend to every one of you out there, no matter what your tastes, because for one reason or another, you'll love it. And it's that one reason that, in my opinion, makes it the single best audio in the range. Oh hang on, I think I've said that a few too many times as well.

Brick Fry

As someone once said, "there can be only one", and on the face of it this looks like being it. Hickman and Robert's The One Doctor leaves Big Finish's other plays standing, and despite rather a cowardly billing as an out and out comedy, presumably to dodge any fan flak from the terminally humourless, The One Doctor is the closest they've ever come to surpassing the spirit and excitement of the original series. In short, it's brilliant.

The Doctor and Mel land on the planet Generios (geddit) where the populace are already celebrating their recent liberation from evil by that mysterious Timelord, The Doctor. No doubt expecting an anniversary special in the offing, the Doctor is rather put out to discover there is an impostor at work, the lascivious Banto Zame- a conceit which neatly allows Doctor Who to pastiche itself within its own idiom. Needless to say adventure ensues, neatly parodying the tastes of the contemporary TV viewer (interminable quiz shows and, yes, infinite DIY) while itself making a pretty strong argument for the return of the genuine entertainment that Doctor Who represents.

This is a cosy world of sofas and watercoolers, recalling the slap dash feel of Graham William's serials. But this is itself a complement in our world of overpolished Hollywood floaters, for The One Doctor is full of genuine invention and relish, thrillingly avoiding the serious and the routine.

Baker pushes his Doctor just an ince into self-parody, and by God it works- and works better than any performance of the role for twenty years. His verbal sparring with Christopher Biggins' surprisingly hard-edged Banto Zame makes for some killer one liners that will have you creasing your undies. Clare Buckfield hits all the right notes as the Essex girl-cum-con artist Sally Anne Stubbins. Even Bonnie Langford enjoys some great dialogue, and Mel works brilliantly in this world of black and white middle class morality that the original series so often peddled. Hickman and Roberts capture the pompous idiom of this Doctor Who period to the letter, but unlike its progenitors, Pip and Jane Baker, their characters have a sense of irony, and above all a self-awareness that makes them great fun to be around.

Alistair Lock's corny incidentals strain at the leash from time to time, often underlining or obscuring dialogue that is sufficiently humourous without his help, but elsewhere his work is spot on, particularly when pastiching Hollywood pomposity. The coup de gras comes when Matt Lucas' Alan Bennett style Jelloid bursts into song- as an idea it sounds terrible, but proves typical of this production's remit to go just that step further than you'd expect.

For those who feel Who had lost that gift to entertain, and relieve the tedium of day to day life, The One Doctor will restore your faith. I can barely remember when Doctor Who was this much fun, and when its silliness and madcap logic transformed the mundane 'real' world- I can no longer pass a portaloo without thinking Biggins may be lurking within (no comment). Hysterical, magical and surfing the zeitgeist, "Doctor, where have you been?"

Great support from the guest stars, familiar voices from both within and without the world of Big Finish, all giving performances that excel their other work, helps create a truly memorable piece of topical escapist nonsense. But this, once more, is not to do it down. After 20 years of more or less humourless Who, I could cope with much, much more of this. More please, matron.

Simon Catlow

'I just wish sometimes people could sort their problems out all by themselves! I mean, why does it always have to be me?'

The Doctor and Mel arrive in the far future, only to find that someone has already saved the people of Generios instead. One of the local inhabitants of the planet tells them that the Doctor saved them. Mel suggests that it's another incarnation whose arrived first, but the Doctor doubts that. He believes that someone has been impersonating him, and the Doctor is determined to find out who. However there is a greater threat to the Generios system waiting to make itself known...

Gareth Roberts and Clayton Hickman's The One Doctor sees Colin Baker teamed up with Bonnie Langford for the first time on audio, and given the circumstances of their previous appearances in The Trial Of The Time Lord, this story marks their first full story together. Ever since the title for this story was announced, there has been much speculation upon what it would be like, but it doesn't disappoint at all.

The One Doctor is a superb triumph, demonstrating the variety of the Doctor Who format tremendously by being unlike any previous release by Big Finish. It's very much a comedy at heart, and whereas previous audio stories have had humour present, they were nowhere near on the same scale as exhibited here. The One Doctor is a positive riot of humour from start to finish, with the magnificent, sharply written script brimming with quality which never fails to be anything but hugely entertaining. Coupled with excellent performances from it's all star cast and good direction as well, The One Doctor is one release not to be missed.

If The One Doctor has any fault, then it lies with it's plot, which is a little reminiscent of the quest type stories of The Keys Of Marinus and The Chase in the way that it's structured into a series of different set pieces. There's nothing wrong with this at all, but had lesser writers than Roberts and Hickman attempted something similar, then the results could very easily have been disappointing. But the plot of The One Doctor is less important than on other releases because it's not trying to be a regular release. It's written to be purely fun and entertaining, and that makes a very refreshing change of pace.

Some of the television Doctor Who stories where comedy was the main element fell quite badly because the performances weren't up to much, but as this is a Sixth Doctor story, there was very little danger of that happening here. Each of the actors and actresses involved in The One Doctor put in very good performances and bring the script to life skilfully.

Colin Baker is excellent as usual. The renaissance of the Sixth Doctor is now well and truly complete with Baker demonstrating time and time again how good he can be as the Doctor when given decent scripts. While previous Sixth Doctor stories have hinted at what a good comedic, as well as dramatic, actor Baker is, The One Doctor lets him showcase this perfectly. Many of Colin's scenes here are highly amusing, such as the opening exchange with Mel for example, and very memorable. Roberts and Hickman get the balance of his character just right as well with the right amount of his old television arrogance and the more well balanced version of the Sixth Doctor established by the audios and the Doctor Who novels.

In her previous audio appearance, Bonnie Langford proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that she could act much better than her few appearances in the television series showed, and The One Doctor continues this. She's quite excellent as Mel here, showing none of the annoying characteristics that so blighted her television performances, and the repartee she develops with Colin Baker is superb, illustrating how good they might have been on television given more time together. Bonnie seems to really enjoy herself in this audio (as do all the cast in fact), and it tells in her performance which benefits no end from this.

The main guest stars of The One Doctor are Christopher Biggins and Clare Buckfield as Banto Zame and Sally-Ann Stubbins. Whilst the cast lists from the CD booklet make it clear that Biggins isn't actually a future Doctor, he is actually quite convincing in the role as 'the Doctor' during the first episode and he and Sally-Ann form a good team. The idea of someone impersonating the Doctor is a very admirable one, and in the hands of these writers it works superbly well with Zame coming across as a rogue out to scam as many people as possible for as much as possible with his deception. The confrontations between him and the real Doctor are some of the audios many, many highlights. Clare Buckfield does very well as Sally-Ann, putting in a good performance alternating between her naive companion put on persona and her more lecherous true self with relish.

The rest of the cast's performances are good as well. Matt Lucas, recently seen in an episode of the new Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) series, does well in his two roles as the Cylinder and the Jelloid, and Adam Buxton, of Channel 4's The Adam and Joe Show, is excellent as one of the two Assemblers - who are themselves an excellent creation. Jane Goddard's performance as The Questioner is clearly influenced by Anne Robinson's Weakest Link persona, and in the context of the section which it appears is very apposite.

Gary Russell's direction is excellent, ensuring that he gets the best of the actors involved so that they all perform well with the bizarre characters they play. The story is very well realised with a very appropriate, futuristic score from Alistair Lock and some very evocative sound design which helps to establish the society of the Generios society, and also adds greatly to the comedy of the story.

The One Doctor is enormous fun, and to discuss specifically all of the many highlights of the story would spoil one of the best releases from Big Finish so far. There is so much to enjoy in this release whether it's the sharply comedic script, the excellent performances or the many surprises that The One Doctor has in store for the listener, that it stands as one of the most memorable releases so far. In fact, it's quite possibly the funniest piece of performed Doctor Who ever. The One Doctor is superb, and in a year when there have been many quality releases stands as one of the very best. It is entirely and unequivocally recommended.

Plus keep that CD running even after the main feature has finished as the surprises of The One Doctor don't stop with the end of the story...