â€œLook at the size of that thing, Doctor.â€
â€œYes, Jamie, that is a big one.â€
Yes, thatâ€™s right companion legend James Robert McCrimmon is back for three brand new adventures with the sixth Doctor Starting this month over at Big Finish. Actor Frazer Hines reprises the role he made so famous back in the sixties, along side Second Doctor Patrick Troughton, in this monthâ€™s story City of Spires.
Frazer is a massively entertaining man as anyone who has ever seem him at a convention will know only too well. Having already reprised the role of Jamie McCrimmon in The Five Doctors, The Two Doctors (along side Colin Baker) and a few Big Finish Companion Chronicles audio plays, Frazer’s contribution to Doctor Who extends as far as being willing to work for free with Patrick Troughton to re-film the missing Dalek adventure Evil of the Daleks, a proposal that never came to fruition.
Why is this important? I feel it is only fair to point out how nice it is to have a companion who was so well loved on TV showing how much he really cares about the show all these years later. That and I felt it was important to show what a treat we are in for this month.
Taking place in the highlands of Scotland in a year which is a bit hard to lock down, the Doctor finds Jamie locked in a war with the Red Coats and an unknown enemy known as Red Cap. It seems that the land is being tapped for a â€œblack waterâ€ and all who get in the way will be killed or enslaved. But the Doctor knows that this isnâ€™t right, not for this era certainly. Not only that, Jamie doesnâ€™t remember who the Doctor is. Not surprising as he has a new face and Jamieâ€™s memory was wiped by the Time Lords, but he should remember the Doctor from their first meeting, so why doesnâ€™t he?
I think itâ€™s fair to say that any fan of the 60â€™s era of Doctor Who has been waiting for the Doctor to swoop back into Jamie and Zoeâ€™s lives and help them regain their memories or at least fill them with new ones. So for me, being such a fan, this story has been a long time in the waiting. Itâ€™s not as cut and dry as it could be though, it seems the Doctor and Jamie have along road ahead of them. But this is OK, because Frazer Hines and Colin Baker together make you want to hear more of them, so maybe three adventures wonâ€™t be enough.
Frazer isnâ€™t the only Doctor Who alumni to make an appearance in this story. The Doctorâ€™s Daughter herself, Georgia Moffett, plays the Alice, a woman in search of her husband in this dark war. She is a very strong and independent woman, which always works well next to the character of Jamie.
Whatâ€™s great about this story is that itâ€™s leading somewhere big over the next two parts. Not an unusual idea, but some the way this story is handled is what makes it different. I prefer not to explain that for fear of ruining something for the listener.
Writer Simon Bovey is clearly a very talented man, throwing us bones along the way always acting as if this information was important but then not dealing with it as we would expect. This tactic makes you listen up even more as you really want to know what you arenâ€™t being told. Bovey has also treated the character of Jamie with great respect and allowed him to age rather than be the same young character that we once knew. But at the same time, he knows what makes up Jamieâ€™s personality, so the man is still the same man. Very true to a real life progression.
This is also a testament to Frazer Hines as he has the daunting task of trying to be a character that some many know so well, but play him different enough to be true to life, but similar enough to be true to the fans. The pairing of writer, actor and certainly Nick Briggs as director really helps to sell this transition.
All in all, this was a wonderful tale and it felt like I was seeing an old friend again. Itâ€™s that familiarity that makes this take all the more engaging but never makes it feel like that is all it is trying to achieve. Sure itâ€™s only part one of a three part adventure but it never lets you forget that it has a big story of itâ€™s own to tell.
You have to listen for your self to see the size of this thing.
â€œYes, Jamie, that is a big one.â€
City of Spires is out this month and is available from Big Finish.