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The Fearmonger

Review by Jon Preddle

After the disappointing Bland of the Dead, it was a relief to find that the first solo Seventh Doctor story is more enjoyable.

McCoy and Aldred slip very easily into their familiar roles; this adventure is very much in the style of Season 26 (unfortunately we can't refer to these as Season 27 since that privilege has been assigned to the new McGann audios). I would even say that The Fearmonger was so very typical of the McCoy era that I don't think it would have worked as well had it been performed by another Doctor. Thankfully scriptwriter Jonathan Blum has resisted writing the Doctor and Ace like their angst-filled Virgin counterparts. However the way the Doctor and Ace are introduced into the story - there is no arrival scene; they've already been on Earth for some time and their investigations into the weird goings-on already well-under way - is very much like a Virgin novel.

It is becoming a regular feature of Big Finish's productions to include several big names amongst the cast of unknowns, of which Aldred's husband, Vince Henderson, features as Mick Thompson, an annoying radio host who plays an important element in the plot. Meanwhile Blake's 7 star Jacqueline Pearce (Chessene in The Two Doctors) plays the part of Sherilyn Harper much like Servalan, while Hugh Walters plays the type of slimy character that he perfected in other series (he has appeared in Doctor Who three times). In fact I was reminded a lot of Madam Kara and Vogel (also Walters) from Revelation of the Daleks when Pearce and Walters shared scenes.

Big Finish have excelled yet again with their production values, however the distorted voice given to the Fearmonger creature tended to be garbled at times (a problem that was also evident in Phantasmagoria). I had to replay the cliffhanger to episode three several times to pick up who exactly was speaking and what was being said because of the modulated voices.

And what is the Fearmonger? Well, it's not quite an ‘evil from the dawn of time’ that is usually associated with the seventh Doctor, but more like a very distant cousin!

Again the explanation was rushed forcing me to replay the sequence to absorb what was being said.

However, on the strength of this reunion I look forward to the further adventures of the seventh Doctor and Ace.

This item appeared in TSV 60 (June 2000).