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Published on August 27th, 2008 | by Brian A Terranova

Doctor Who: The Ultimate Adventure

In 1989 Doctor Who hit the stage with a brand new Ultimate Adventure written by veteran Doctor Who writer Terrance Dicks. Sadly its run on stage did not last long enough for most fans to see it, let alone those born during, or after its run. It became the stuff of legend. Bragging rights for those who had seen it and just as mysterious as all the missing stories for the 1960’s to those who had not.

Now, through the wonder of the audio medium, Big Finish Productions have adapted Doctor Who: The Ultimate Adventure into a radio play. While many parts have been recast a few of the principle actors were more then happy to return.

Colin Baker, who had played the part of the Sixth Doctor in the play – taking over after Jon Pertwee, as the Third Doctor, stepped down from the role – is back in the lead role and apparently loving every minute of it.

We also see the return of the most famous Cyber Leader ever, David Banks, reprising his role as the mercenary, Karl.

The Ultimate Adventure may not be the easiest thing to fit into continuity and really it might be better to not even try. This did not stop me enjoying the story for one minute though; sure the songs were odd at first, but there are only the three. Then we have two new companions to get used to, but then that happens all the time. Yeah it got a 1980’s feel to the story, but again, that is key. That is how it was presented in 1989 and that is how it should stay.

When I hear Big Finish plays I usually picture big Hollywood budgets in my head. I rarely picture the stories as they would have aired in their respective era, but this is not the case here. Interestingly enough, I could not shake the image of a few heads in my way as I tried to look past them to see the stage. I pictured set pieces, curtains, grandiose stage movements and theatrical costumes.

It really did feel like getting a piece of history back. I felt a bit like a 5 year old child sitting in amazement as the Daleks moved past them in real life for the first time.

But wait –as they say – there’s more! The disc if full of CD Extras.

Now, when it comes to CD extras usually they can be hit or miss. On DVD, extras can give you not only audible but visual insight on how things were made on film, which can make them more impressive as well as more engaging. CD Extras can be nice to have on an audio story but sometimes they don’t do much but break up the flow of the story, as they are spread across the two discs. In this case, however, the CD Extras are extremely worth it.

As The Ultimate Adventure was only a five month run in 1989 I was naturally never able to go see it. Forget that I was only 14; I was also growing up in another country. So the extras provided give me a chance to see what I missed. To find out what they changed, not only in making the story work for audio, but also during the plays run on stage switching it’s lead actors from Jon Pertwee to Colin Baker, as well as David Banks. Now there’s a twist.

The extras give you first hand insight into what it was like to be there during the opening night and having an experience that you could only have wondered about before.

Doctor Who: The Ultimate Adventure may not be the most heart pounding story, but for what it was – a musical Doctor Who adventure – it really is worth the experience, in whatever form, to have experienced it.

This is the first of three stage plays adapted for audio for Big Finish and based on this, I can not wait for the rest.

You can learn more about Doctor Who: The Ultimate Adventure by visiting the Big Finish website, www.bigfinish.com

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Doctor Who and me go way back. I first discovered it on my local PBS Station WHYY in the suburbs outside Philadelphia when I was a young kid; though I am uncertain of the exact age.




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