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Reviewed: Big Finish’s Doctor Who Short Trips – The Hoxteth Time Capsule

Bringing Doctor Who‘s 60th anniversary year to a close, the 2023 winning entry of the annual Paul Spragg Memorial Short Trip Opportunity is a Sixth Doctor adventure written by Paul Davis, and read by none other than Old Sixie himself, Colin Baker.

Without giving away too many plot details, the Short Trip explores the life of George White, who apparently has no memory of meeting the Doctor and, more importantly, a mysterious woman when he gives a presentation of his travels at the Hoxteth* Village Hall. Later on, he searches through his titular time capsule and discovers more photographs of himself with the same woman.

(* At first, I thought Hoxteth was the name of a planet, until listening to the Short Trip which describes it as a fictional English village. Very much reminds me of the Scottish fishing town, Lichyrwick, from the 2021 winning entry.)

Paul Davis brilliantly nails the narrative and characters in his script, giving enough room for the mystery of George’s life and memories to be unraveled, with plenty of cultural references providing an adventurous atmosphere. The story is also set during the Doctor’s travels with Evelyn Smythe, but at some point after their falling out, with a tasty reference to chocolate cake (her specialty). It’s a heartfelt tribute to Maggie Stables, who sadly passed away nearly a decade ago, in 2014.

When Big Finish announced Colin Baker as the narrator for The Hoxteth Time Capsule, I was surprised and ecstatic. I couldn’t be impressed enough with his eloquence in his narrating, after doing all the Sixth Doctor stories in the first four Short Trip audio anthologies; including his very own The Wings of a Butterfly (in Volume 1). Definitely a perfect opportunity for Old Sixie to do the honours!

As for Tom Newsom’s magnificent artwork, it gives vibes of The Two Doctors being filmed on location in Spain, with the Sixth Doctor observing himself with his iconic multicoloured coat removed in the photograph, during his visit to India; almost reminiscent of a telesnap from a TV episode. Not to mention that it also reminds me of the Series 10 opener, The Pilot, which saw the Twelfth Doctor going back in time to take photos of Bill’s late mother, as a Christmas present.

Eight winning Short Trips, thus far, in honour of Paul Spragg’s memory. I honestly can’t express how brilliant they all are in different ways, giving new writers a chance to showcase their ideas with experimental storytelling. Despite having entered several times, but never won, I always look forward to supporting whoever wins the competition.

The Hoxteth Time Capsule is available to download for free from Big Finish.

(And once you unlock the Short Trips story, you’ll also be able to download both the studio script and the original submission in PDF.)

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 Doctor Who Short Trips – The Hoxteth Time Capsule

by Andrew Hsieh time to read: 2 min
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