The Doctor Who Companion

Get your daily fix of news, reviews, and features with the Doctor Who Companion!

Reviewed: Big Finish’s Eleventh Doctor Chronicles Volume 5 – Everywhere and Anywhere

The penultimate volume of “Series 7V” takes the Eleventh Doctor (voiced by Jacob Dudman) and Valarie Lockwood (Safiyya Ingar) to darker territories in three outstanding, emotional episodes — all which make further progression on the epic 14-part story arc, with strong character development and themes. A perfect Christmas gift from Big Finish!

(This review contains spoilers for Geronimo! and All of Time and Space. Be warned, or beg mercy from River Song!)

We begin with Series 7V’s Christmas special – Spirit of the Season, by Georgia Cook. A fascinating festive-themed ghost story with the Doctor and Valarie encountering Clara (Becky Wright) inside a 19th Century style mansion, along with Harpreet (Natasha Patel) and Edmund (Edward Harrison) – both taken from two different time periods. Definitely not the Clara you were expecting, but more of a twisted, psychopathic version that bears no relation to Jenna Coleman’s portrayals of the Clara “Oswin” Oswald splinters; toying with memories and fears.

At the same time, Valarie has a heartfelt, poignant reunion with her mum Patricia (Mandi Symonds), after the latter’s tragic death in The Inheritance. There are plenty of emotional moments that’ll leave you sobbing or hyperventilating, in Georgia’s magical script, alongside a cheeky reference to the flying sharks from A Christmas Carol (which features the late Sir Michael Gambon, who sadly passed away back in September). And while ghost stories are right out of my comfort zone, I thought the concepts were brilliantly executed. Clever double entendre in the title!

The second episode, All’s Fair, by Max Kashevsky, has Valarie going on a date with Roanna (Mia Tomlinson), last seen in The Yearn, at Chicago’s World Fair in 1893. And Hayden Lockwood (Christopher Ragland) as Valarie’s… husband?! Not what I was expecting, but amazingly played out. And don’t we love a few American cultural references from time to time, especially a brief foreshadowing of Series 12’s Nikola Tesla episode?

Previously credited as Max Curtis, after writing two fantastic Short Trips — Still Life (Subscriber range) and Salvage (Short Trips Volume 12) — this is Kashevsky’s first full-cast audio for Big Finish; apparently a real dream come true for him to be given the opportunity to script-edit and receive a thank you credit on the CD releases. His outstanding script is a romantic, wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey love story like no other; and comes at a devastating cost. You’ll have to listen until the very end to understand how the pivotal plot twists neatly weave into in the overarching narrative, something along the lines of the dramatic cliffhanger in A Good Man Goes to War. It doesn’t disappoint.

The third and final episode, Sins of the Flesh, by producer Alfie Shaw, sees the long-awaited Big Finish debut of the RTD era Cybus Cybermen, a design which I grew up watching, since 2006 — easily noticeable on Caroline Tankersley’s spectacular artwork, with a deliberate nod to Handles from The Time of the Doctor (which premiered a whole decade ago)!

Since the Cybermen were specifically referenced in The Inheritance and the trailer for All of Time and Space, I knew that the Doctor and Valarie would end up encountering them… and the results are extraordinary. Not just Nicholas Briggs lending his voice to these Cybermen and their villainous Cyberleader, but also Shaw’s script giving them prominence in the Eleventh Doctor era; vastly superior to some of their TV appearances as the main antagonists (particularly Closing Time and Nightmare in Silver). And let’s not forget the use of the wrist blasters — they brought back memories of the Series 2 finale and The Pandorica Opens. I personally prefer them to the “electro attack”.

This isn’t your typical Cybermen story. It’s a justified, nuanced depiction which explores the dangers of conversion therapy, in a literal sense… with the Rebirth Organisation forcing children into “redemption suits”, including poor Carmen (Maddison Bulleyment). That is how you do proper LGBTQ+ representation. As a Christian, I personally loved how the themes lampoon the distorted aspects of my religion, with cultists being deceived into “worshipping” the Cybermen. Very Trumpian indeed, but with a clear, powerful message to raise awareness. If Big Finish were to do more audios with the Cybus design, make them as epic as this one.

Everywhere and Anywhere is the strongest boxset in the Series 7V arc, thus far — up there with Broken Hearts; retroactively the fourth story in All of Time and Space. Such imaginative concepts, character-driven storytelling, and powerful, emotional performances from the entire cast, this is already one of my favourite audio releases of 2023. A hallmark of Doctor Who‘s 60th anniversary! Since we have to wait until February for the final volume, Victory of the Doctor, which features the return of the multicoloured New Paradigm Daleks, check out Jacob Dudman and Safiyya Ingar answering listeners’ questions (including one from yours truly), alongside Who Review’s preview from earlier this month.

Everywhere and Anywhere is available now from Big Finish.

Andrew Hsieh

Aspiring screenwriter with Asperger's syndrome, and lifelong Whovian since (shortly after) Christopher Eccleston's reign, Andrew has written and co-edited short story anthologies for Divergent Wordsmiths. Plus, he lives near Bannerman Road.

Reviewed: Big Finish’s Eleventh Doctor Chronicles Volume 5 – Everywhere and Anywhere

by Andrew Hsieh time to read: 3 min
%d bloggers like this: