Reviewed: Zaltys

Zaltys is one of the more refreshing offerings from Big Finish in the last couple of years, especially when it comes to the adventures of Doctor number Five (Peter Davison), Nyssa (Sarah Sutton), Tegan (Janet Fielding), and Adric (Matthew Waterhouse).

This reviewer, whilst not against any of the other Big Finish Doctor Who stories featuring this team at all, may not have connected well with the resurgence of the TARDIS dwellers pre-Earthshock days.

However, this particular little romp offers interesting characters, diverse settings, and a mystery waiting to be solved. All in all, top notch stuff for a great Doctor Who story.

After two of his companions are kidnapped, the Doctor traces them to Zaltys – the co-called Planet of the Dead (rings a bell) because its inhabitants simply vanished! As he and Nyssa search for their friends, it appears they’re not the only ones looking for something: Zaltys has been invaded. By treasure-hunters.

Perhaps most enjoyable of all is the division and use of each TARDIS member: Tegan and Adric play the roles of the ‘lost’, getting themselves isolated and in trouble straight away. The Doctor and Nyssa head up the rear whilst trying to simultaneously find their friends and answer their growing number of questions, all wonderfully solved thanks to a stellar supporting cast. In fact, let’s not sidestep on that factor: Sean Barrett as Perrault, Niamh Cusack as Clarimonde, Philip Franks as Gevaudan and Rebecca Root performing Sable; all of theses actors and characters enrich a dark and empty world (literally not figuratively) and also demand the full attention of their audience. It’s not easy to create a number of different characters all with their own interesting motivations and traits but writer, Matthew J Elliot throws them into the script as if he’s crafted a Doctor Who story billions of times before – not a simple task but one definitely achieved here.

Whilst Adric tries his own hand as to finding out what exactly is going on (after being abducted), Tegan draws an even shorter straw and finds herself being hunted by a malevolent force. Fielding’s scenes are tremendous fun and escalate the tension right up to ten, allowing the Doctor to investigate at a slower pace and the listener to remain engaged.

Zaltys is the kind of story where Big Finish showcase their understanding of the DNA of Doctor Who whilst serving up something original and new for everyone to enjoy.

Directed by Barnaby Edwards, Zaltys is out now from Big Finish, priced £14.99 on CD or £12.99 as a download.