Forming part of the “black and white TARDIS” trilogy, there are some big questions and even bigger answers that are to come to make this mini season one of Big Finish’s most epic ever. But with all this to come, what does Jonathon Morris decide to do to kick start events? He writes a beautifully intimate little story that questions what it is to be human and to what lengths we can push ourselves. Not only does Morris accomplish this by writing one of his best adventures ever, he also manages to make it a fairly Doctor-light episode as well with the bulk of the action being played out by Ace and Hex.
The Seventh Doctor’s two companions here have always had a slight strain on their relationship together; Ace blindly trusts that the Doctor will come through for everyone by any means necessary whereas Hex has a slight naivety to him that always questions the Doctor’s methods and motives. It leads to some sizzling dialogue and a lot of fantastic discussions about ethics and consequences of not only battling the Doctor but travelling with him as well. Morris does not disappoint in these sections either, giving actors Phillip Oliver and Sophie Aldred some wonderful lines to tread their respective boards with.
In terms of plot, Ace and Hex find themselves in late 1980’s England just as World War Three is about to break out. Taking shelter in the house of Albert and Peggy, the TARDIS crew are mystified to find out that nuclear war is imminent; something that never happened so why is it about to break out now? We all realise that only the Doctor knows the answer but he’s not here. In fact Sylvester McCoy’s fleeting appearance in this story elevates him to more of a “chess playing” Time Lord than ever before. Whilst manipulating events from behind the scenes and making fleeting appearances, we get the feeling that there is a lot more going on then Ace, Hex and even maybe the Doctor know about and certainly by the end of this tale you’ll be dying to find out more.
With a superb supporting cast of Ian Hogg (Ghost Light) as the lovely Albert and Elizabeth Bennett as his caring wife Peggy (who you will genuinely shed a tear for, that is no joke) and some solid and atmospheric direction, Protect and Survive not only gets this year’s seventh doctor trilogy of to an enticing and enticing start, it also happens to be one of the strongest stories Jonathan Morris has ever written.
Protect and Survive is available now from www.bigfinish.com