Be warned before you even cast your curious eyes over this review, there are spoilers, as thereâ€™s no way of talking about the piece without bringing them up. So, if you donâ€™t want to know what happens in this action packed story, look away nowâ€¦
A Death in the Family continues straight after the events of Project: Destiny. The Forge were keeping a coffin containing a Time Lord in their vaults and so the Doctor, Ace and UNIT go searching for the remains. Once retrieving the coffin, they discover that it contains the body ofâ€¦ the Seventh Doctor.
But itâ€™s an older Seventh Doctor, looking like his TV Movie self. And once he starts waking, Nobody No One is not far behind. Fans of the Big Finish play Forty Five may remember this eponymous Word Lord causing the Doctor all sorts of trouble as he formed scenarios out of peopleâ€™s lexicon. Now heâ€™s regenerated into the form of Ian Reddington and boy, is he ever insane. Reddington is memorable for his role as Chief Clown in 1988â€™s The Greatest Show in the Galaxy and here he takes menace and instability to another level. Desperate and angry, seeped in madness and bitter towards the whole of creation, Reddington proves that he should be the next actor to play the Master. He goads poor Hex into a forced reunion with the Doctor and Ace to lead to a final confrontation.
And as part one draws to a close, the Doctor (younger model) has worked out how to trap Nobody once again but itâ€™s not going to be an easy ride. In fact it costs him his life. With an ending so beautiful that it would be worthy to finish the whole series off entirely, should the day ever come.
Parts two and three see Hex and Ace dealing with the aftermath of their Doctor’s death. Through wibbly-wobbly and timey-wimey events, Hex ends up with Evelyn Smythe on the planet Vilag whereas Ace ends up back in London trying desperately to deal with the loss of her greatest friend and in many ways, father figure. Both characters have their parts to play and epiphanies to come to over these episodes as they become weaved in a typical Seventh Doctor web that shows the two that even in death, he can still be trusted.
When we arrive at episode four, the Seventh Doctor has been reborn into the world (in not too dissimilar a style to how he was in 2010â€™s The Big Bang) and works alongside Evelyn to trap Nobody No One once and for all. This proves to be one of the more exciting parts of the play ending, very sadly, with the death of Evelyn as she helps to subdue the Word Lord in a trap.
A Death in the Family is an ambitious piece that achieves a lot. Whilst the middle two episodes slow down in pace this works favourably to reflect the change that Ace and Hex experience without the Doctor in their lives (albeit temporarily). With a fantastic supporting cast and great performances from the regulars, this is a great â€œmiddle pointâ€ for this particular trilogy.
Letâ€™s hope we see more of Ian Reddingtonâ€™s take on The Word Lord sooner rather than laterâ€¦
A Death in the Family is written by Steven Hall and is out this month on CD and MP3 from www.bigfinish.com.