Earlier this year, Big Finish announced a trilogy of multi-Doctor stories, each featuring two incarnations confronting a well-known villain. The first instalment, Out of Time 1, features two of the most iconic Doctors from Classic and New Who – Tom Baker’s Fourth and David Tennant’s Tenth – and pits them against one of their most notorious enemies, the Daleks.
My expectations were already high. Big Finish has such a strong track record when it comes to their multi-Doctor adventures and I am happy to confirm that this story not only continues that legacy but builds upon it.
We enter the story with both Doctors spending time at the Cathedral of Contemplation; a refuge that exists outside of time and space, capable of opening its doors anywhere in the universe for those in need of solace and quiet introspection. Ordinarily, the two would be kept apart in their own timelines maintained by the Cathedral and the Abbess (Claire Rushbrook). Only now, the dimensional barriers that hold the edifice together have failed and bring the Doctors face to face. Taking advantage of the chaos, the Daleks arrive on the scene with a plan to use the Cathedral as their gateway to the rest of time and space.
The sheer speed with which the Daleks sweep into the Cathedral and assume control feels truly ruthless and presents a terrifying squad of the Doctor’s oldest enemies on a war footing. With the Supreme Dalek at the helm, the Doctors and friends are on the back foot. This onslaught only heightens the tension as the Doctors, already having to rescue any pilgrims trapped in the Cathedral by the breakdown of the temporal barriers, must now try to avert an all-out universal invasion by the Daleks.
Tom Baker and David Tennant are a brilliant Doctor pairing and the gap between the two in their own timeline highlights their different approaches when it comes to solving the mounting problems. Indeed, their relative experience fighting the Daleks is held against each other when it comes to who and how they should handle their problems. This is shown beautifully when the Doctors play ‘scissors paper stone’ when deciding who should go and confront the Daleks and who should try and save the other pilgrims. This moment is very reminiscent of The Three Doctors when the Second and Third Doctors toss a coin to see who is going to enter Omega’s lair first, and Destiny of the Daleks, in which Tom’s incarnation tries to show the Movellans the fault in logical arguments. It feels at once familiar, but also quite different because of the experiences that either men hold.
Both personalities are complimented by the quasi-companion Private Jora (Kathryn Drysdale) who acts as a sounding board for both Doctors when they refuse to listen to one another in moments of rage. She humours the Fourth as he drops names and waxes lyrical about his artistry, while she bickers with the Tenth Doctor and reminds him that, despite his experience, he is not always right.
Without wanting to spoil too much, I would wholeheartedly recommend checking out this story: it’s a masterclass in fast-paced, character-driven frivolity and something that we all need a bit more of in these difficult days. Big Finish knows how to treat their Doctors with respect and Out of Time 1, written by Matt Fitton, sets a strong precedent for the rest of the series of multi-Doctor adventures. I can’t wait!
Doctor Who: Out of Time 1 is out today, available from Big Finish for £10.99 on CD and £8.99 on download.