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Reviewed: Big Finish’s Twelfth Doctor Chronicles Volume 3 – You Only Die Twice

Jacob Dudman reprises the role of the Twelfth Doctor in his final Big Finish outing, this time set after Series 10’s loose Monk trilogy in an interlinked three-part boxset which serves as a sequel to Timejacked!. Reuniting with Time Agent Keira Sanstrom (Bhavnisha Parmar), You Only Die Twice embarks them on a mission assigned by the Time Agency – space MI6 – with excruciatingly excellent results.

(I’ve been given access to the Time Agency’s intelligence reports on Agents Doctor and Sanstrom’s mission which, I’m afraid, are predominantly classified and/or redacted.)

The first part, Sunstrike, sees Keira recruiting a reluctant Doctor to infiltrate a luxurious dinner party and take down the villainous Quartermaster. Georgia Cook’s script is an intergalactic James Bond-esque thriller that keeps you hooked, which brilliantly opens the story arc and plants numerous seeds. It reminds me a bit of the scenes on the Harmony and Redemption space cruise ship from The Husbands of River Song.

The second part, Never The End Is, takes the Doctor and Keira to Austria, 1677, involving painter Christoph Haizmann making a deal with the devil – yes, quite literally. (Now, where have I seen a title like that before? Ah, yes! Of Chaos Time The, from the Sixth Doctor Main Range anthology, Breaking Bubbles and Other Stories.) A pseudo-historical tale in a time loop, which delivers a gripping plot with a shocking twist involving a familiar enemy. This isn’t the first time that Ben Tedds has written for the Twelfth Doctor; many Big Finish listeners would remember his 2019 winning Paul Spragg Short Trip entry, The Best-Laid Plans, which I wholeheartedly recommend downloading for free (and please check out the behind the scenes video as well)!

The third and final part, You Only Die Twice, which shares the same title as the boxset, neatly ties up various loose ends that were established earlier on in the overarching narrative. Having previously written the Twelfth Doctor Short Trips, A Song For Running (Subscriber 2019) and The Three Flames (Short Trips Volume 12), it’s great that Fio Trethewey has been given the opportunity to write the finale for the boxset. And as he says about the plot in Who Review’s preview, “Everything is redacted.”

The set was released in time for New Who‘s 19th anniversary on 26th March, but also coincidentally commemorating the forthcoming 10th anniversary of Peter Capaldi’s full debut in Series 8. As a staunch Twelfth Doctor fan, it feels rewarding to have another set of serialised storytelling for one of my favourite eras; this time using a pun on another Bond story, like what the Series 12 opener, Spyfall, did. Lisa Bowerman’s directing truly captured the era’s essence, as well as Max Kashevsky’s skilful structuring of the narrative. Even the sonic sunglasses on Caroline Tankersley’s modern artwork fits the secret agent vibes! (And nope, that’s not a faceless Auton on the cover, despite wearing a suit.) However, I find it strange that the full theme with the Middle 8 is only used in the end credits of Sunstrike, rather than the final story; unlike the two Audio Novel releases, Emancipation of the Daleks and The Chaos Cascade. Wouldn’t be surprised if it’s just an editing error.

Having Bhavnisha Parmar back as Keira Sanstrom is very rewarding, despite it not being a direct sequel to the previous volume. This isn’t just about going deeper into her character development, she also gets to deal with the Time Agency itself. I think there’s potential for her to make another appearance. After recently bowing out as the Eleventh Doctor, in the final Series 7V boxset, Victory of the Doctor, Jacob Dudman has nailed his Capaldi impression throughout the boxset. I know he has found it challenging to capture the voice, but listening to the mannerisms and inflections have made him sound fairly uncanny. He might not have done that many Twelfth Doctor audios, but we should be grateful for the three volumes and the other Short Trips, Dead Media and Regeneration Impossible, as well as a special cameo in [REDACTED]. If The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles range were to continue without Dudman, I hope they bring along Dan Starkey to put on the sonic sunglasses.

You Only Die Twice 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 Twelfth Doctor Chronicles Volume 3 – You Only Die Twice

by Andrew Hsieh time to read: 3 min
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