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Published on July 11th, 2009 | by Brian A Terranova

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The Angel of Scutari

Doctor Who has been many things. A Space Adventure Show; a Hardcore science fiction show; an Earth Invasion show; more recently a Love Story from Beyond the Stars show… even a James Bond from Space show.

Sylvestor McCoy, Sophie Aldred and Philip Oliver in The Angel of Scutari from Big FinishThe one that seems to get little attention these days is the “Historical Adventure” show.

So it’s at moments like this, just mere seconds after finishing the latest Big Finish play, The Angel of Scutari, that I feel the need to hop onto a computer and put my thoughts down for a review. Quite simply, when a historical story is done well in Doctor Who, it can be one of the best stories ever told.

This is one of those stories.

Following on after the events of Enemy of the Daleks, the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Hex get caught up in the horrible days leading up to and taking place during the Crimea War. Hex is finding himself lost in this world that Ace and the Doctor live in and wants to find a sense of belonging. So when the opportunity arrives for Hex to find a place where he can feel he belongs, a place where he can put his skills to help save lives to good use, he gladly accepts the hardships that come along with that life style.

But Hex knows all too well what he is to face in this time, as one of the most inspirational figures of British history, Florence Nightingale, has lived this life before him. So meeting the very person that influenced his choice to become a nurse in the first place, seems to be just the thing to help Hex remember who he is.

While Hex does some soul searching, the Doctor and Ace decide not to stick around, yet they find that they can’t go far as they become entangled in the events of history – namely the Siege of Sebastopol. They now have a role to play in the war, and they must ensure that history remains unchanged… but can they come out of it together?

When people hear the name “Doctor Who” they generally think of aliens, among other iconic images, but in the beginning, there were about as many historical stories as there were aliens, in fact the first season alone had four alien/space stories and four historicals. So what happened? Where did the historical stories go? They were a big part of the learning format of the original conception of Doctor Who – I know for a fact that there is no shortage of historical events…

Whatever the answer, whatever the reason, there is no denying that historical stories work. There is no getting past the fact that our own history, when used as a backdrop for story telling, is highly attractive and engaging to many. So while it seems to have been overlooked in the later years of the TV show, Big Finish remembers.

One of the delights of these stories would be the brilliant actors that lend their talents to bringing these historical characters to life. In this case we have Jeany Spark who, judging by her IMDB profile, is fairly new to the film world – I admit to being unsure of her stage work – but judging by her performance here as Ms Nightingale, her film work will sky rocket.

The Lady with the Lamp is not the only historical figure we meet, however, but to find out who else, you’ll have to hear the story.

Oh and one last thing – what an ending for our heroes! This will be a long, hard wait for the next Seventh Doctor Adventure I can tell you!

The Angel of Scutari is available now from www.bigfinish.com.

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About the Author

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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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