Each month a new story for The Companion Chronicles is released and each month they continue to amaze the listener with their originality and compact story telling. Find and Replace does this with ease but also manages to tug at the heart strings while doing so.
Itâ€™s a busy month for Jo Grant as not only has she met Sarah Jane Smith and the Eleventh Doctor on screen in The Sarah Jane Adventures but according to this story, sheâ€™s also popped back in time for a quick reunion with the Third Doctor as well!
Let me explain. In Find and Replace, Jo is out in London Christmas shopping. Sheâ€™s happy and bubbly as always and is enjoying her existence to its fullest. That is until she gets stuck in a lift with a creature called Huxley from Verbatim Six. Huxely is a narrator whoâ€™s come to let Jo relive the best time of her life, when she was travelling with the space/time adventuress known asâ€¦ Iris Wildthyme.
And thatâ€™s where the mystery starts to unfold for the listener as we wonder how exactly this Huxley (Alex Lowe) character has got his information so wrong. Iris first emerged in the BBC Doctor Who books in the 1990â€™s as a sort of rougher and less distinguished River Song. Brass, loud and slightly mad, she was quite the problem maker for the Doctors various incarnations (sheâ€™s met several). Big Finish later re-established her character via the audio format where sheâ€™s been played for a number of years by Katy Manning.
With Find and Replace, Katy not only reprises her role as Jo Grant but also as Iris. She carries the conversations between the two characters off so well that at times itâ€™s hard to imagine that itâ€™s one tiny little actress doing all this splendid work.
As the story moves forward, Jo and Iris end up back at UNIT HQ for quite the reunion. Sergeant Benton is encountered in all his wide eyed innocence as Jo and Iris react to him in quite different ways. Then itâ€™s on to Joâ€™s reunion with the Third Doctor, where the entire plot is explained. But itâ€™s not really that relevant as what you end up listening to is possibly one of the most moving conversations that Big Finish has ever produced. The Doctor and Joâ€™s delight to see each other is hampered by, what Jo feels, has been a betrayal of her trust. This dialogue then flows nicely onto a tearful Jo telling the Doctor, her Doctor, that life is never quite the same once heâ€™s gone and how the memories of their times together keep her moving forward. Itâ€™s a wonderful monologue played out with a painful sincerity by Manning. Not only has she caught that mannerisms of Jon Pertwee’s portrayal of the Doctor exactly right, you can really feel the emotion rising in her voice as she clearly talks to her dearly departed friend, not only in the play but in real life as well.
Elegant and passionate with a touch of light heartedness and nostalgia at some points, Find and Replace will make you remember why you love Doctor Who.
Find and Replace is by Paul Magrs and available on CD and MP3 from www.bigfinish.com!