Has it really been over thirty years since we last saw the Fourth Doctor and the Master exchanging un-pleasantries? It certainly has, but all that’s forgotten about now as Geoffrey Beevers and Tom Baker are back together at last to fight it out in Trail of the White Worm.
Arriving in a village in Derbyshire in 1979, the Doctor and Leela come across tracks made by a mysterious creature, a creature that leaves a very nasty trail. While the Doctor gets involved in a spot of deducing, Leela finds herself being chased by a tank driven by Colonel Spindleton (played with glee by the fantastic-as-ever Michael Cochrane). After overpowering the, quite frankly insane, Colonel, Leela is taken to meet his manservant, who has a rich and soothing voice but insists that it is Spindleton who is the servant, whilst he is really…the Master!
After a long absence from the Doctor Who world as the Master, Beevers picks up the part as if he had never left it alone. His scheming, nasty and dangerous personality is still evident here and just as menacing as it has ever been. Mention of the Doctor gets him riled enough to start to panic as he thinks of all the defeats he’s faced from his adversary over the years, it’s a credit to Beevers that he can pull off so much in such a short and punchy story.
The story behind the worm itself is an interesting one, certainly Who-esque in its thought and also quite a compelling performance by… well we won’t spoil too much of it for you.
Those of you that can’t resist spoiler may have seen the title and the monster that is due to appear in the season finale for this tale but to this story’s credit, they don’t appear at all and that makes their presence even more ominous. The cliffhanger at the end of part two is effective, dramatic and leaves the listener desperate for more. Of course this comes from not only good performances but from some very fluid writing thanks to Alan Barnes, whose crack of the whip here is not only an affectionate nod to the Baker stories of yesteryear but is also reminiscent of the Eighth Doctor tales, of which he has written so many.
Baker glows as the Doctor; he also gets some very funny lines and appears to sound younger and younger as his glee at playing the part comes back to him once again. Louise Jameson continues to impress as Leela, sounding just like her character back in the day.
Trail of the White Worm is an enjoyable beginning of a grand tale and one of the highlights of Baker’s first season at Big Finish and is available from www.bigfinish.com now.