Seven Keys to Doomsday is the latest Doctor Who stage play to be adapted into a radio drama. Like The Ultimate Adventure before it gives the viewers a chance to see a piece of history that they were either to young to know of or not lucky enough to have been part of during it’s original run.
Unlike The Ultimate Adventure before it, Seven Keys to Doomsday feels like a TV story set in the era it was originally made for. In fact when hearing the story it is easy to see that some of the ideas ended up in later TV stories during Tom Bakers run on the show. One notable one would be the theme the collecting of all of the segments to the crystal, such as the Key to Time season.
While it did not star on of the original TV actors to play the role of the Doctor it did feature an alternative regeneration from Jon Pertwee into Trevor Martin, the new “Fourth” Doctor for this story. On stage both parts were played by Trevor Martin, while in this case Nick Briggs steps up to the plate and plays the outgoing Doctor.
While Mr. Briggs time in the Phone Box was brief I can say that it was fun to hear his voice. Once you hear it you know what the face looks like. It’s become that noticeable. But it’s Trevor Martin who does steal the show. I would go so far as to say that he would have made a good replacement had they not gone with Tom Baker.
Blasphemy you say? Maybe, but I have to be honest. He was good.
For this play it seemed as if Terrance Dicks and the stage producers who hired him really tried to recreate the show on stage rather then turn the show into a musical or a panto. Their efforts worked very well and make me wonder why it was never truly adapted for TV before. Sure you have to change how the Doctor meets his new companions but that’s just a small part.
Since we’re talking about the companions we should talk about the Doctor Who connection one of the has to the show. In the original stage play the part of Jenny was played by Wendy Padbury who had played Zoe Herriot during the Troughton era. Keeping the part in the family it is now play by Wendy’s daughter Charlie Hayes. Charlie did such a good job and I have to admit that I was amazed to discover that she had played apart in another Big Finish play called Master. I honestly didn’t know. She’s quite good.
Special mention will go to Joe Thompson playing the Doctor’s other companion, Jimmy. He seemed like he got a right mix of brave human and fish out of water for this part.
As usual the Daleks are played by Nick Briggs. Wait, he played the Doctor and the Daleks in this play. Where is Freud when you need him? I suppose Nick might want to exterminate himself, but then at the same time he would want to stop himself before he could exterminate himself and … Oh well, that’s a nightmare for Mr. Briggs to sort out I guess.
In the previous release (The Ultimate Adventure) Briggs tried to capture the feel of the original play and due to this the Daleks were not quite themselves, however, this time they are just as powerful as they should be. Their plan seems sound and the weapon they want seems as mystical and mysterious as an ancient weapon should be. You really feel a sense of worry that they might just have the ultimate weapon on their hands.
Seven Keys to Doomsday had a few issues, depending on whom you speak with, as to why it never became a traveling stage play, which I find to be very sad. Simply put this one would have been a great pleasure to see on stage as it really does feel like it walked out of the 70’s TV screens and onto the stage. Luckily Big Finish had the brainstorm they did about adapting these plays because otherwise I would never have known how fun this one was. In fact, the way the Who world is today, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone tried to revive this stage play.