The Masters of Luxor represents one of Doctor Who’s first and true Lost Stories. When Big Finish first announced that they were undertaking several projects to realise, as best as possible, unmade Doctor Who stories that never got to production, this was surely one that fans first thought of.
There was Colin Baker’s unmade season twenty three, Sylvester McCoy’s unmade season twenty seven and then The Masters of Luxor. Generally, a Lost Story from Big Finish Production has come from synopses’ and episode breakdowns but this one is a rare treat, with a script already written back in the 1960’s by Anthony Coburn and set to take the stage as Doctor Who’s second ever serial – a space ultimately taken by The Daleks, which made history in an entirely different way.
Adapted for audio by Nigel Robinson, who during the 1980’s wrote several Target novelisation’s of televised First Doctor stories, The Masters of Luxor finally gets a release so that we can imagine what kind of path the show might have taken if he had had two stories shown in a row, thus creating Doctor Who in his vision. And what we can take from this experience is…. the show would have remained the same.
The Masters of Luxor takes the Doctor, Susan and their new friends to an alien world in a seemingly abandoned city with an eerie atmosphere and populated with metallic beings. Sound familiar? The adventure then becomes one of not only survival but also about humanity, about discovering your weaknesses and having the courage to stand up and do what’s right. That’s very Anthony Coburn and it’s very Doctor Who.
Whilst we probably see less of the Doctor’s nicer side in Masters we are provided with a tale that focuses on Ian Chesterton. Masters proves to the Doctor that Ian is a wise and courageous choice with regards to bringing the schoolteacher along for the trip of a lifetime and, dare we say it, the Chesterton here is far more righteous and protective of his own then he was in some of his televised adventures. Through this story we can understand that Anthony Coburn planned to do in Masters what Russell T Davies did in The End of the World, he took the story of the Doctor and played it more from the viewpoint of the companion.
That’s probably partly to do with Robinson as well who no doubt gave the serial, written several decades ago, a bit of a spring clean. The direction and sound design are spotless and perfect, recreating an era of Doctor Who from long ago whilst making sure that there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Joe Kloska as the story’s sometimes misguided and other times downright naughty Perfect One also delivers the goods and provides fine banter and moral debates for the TARDIS crew to endure.
Ultimately, Masters is a wonderful example of a true Lost Story and is ironically one of the last to undergo the production procedure, considering that it was one of the first in Doctor Who history to be almost made and then ditched. William Russell and Carole Ann Ford are perfect as ever with their performances, the years may be rolling on but they still have the same excitement and enthusiasm in their voices as they did nearly fifty years when they first performed the roles.
Some of you may find that this has similarities to a Companion Chronicle rather than a true Lost Story but if you sit down and let this adventure fill your living room, you’ll hear the tremendous production values and the greater ideas that it brings to mind: this is not a simple telling of a story, this is a trip to the past, a view on the Time Space Audio Visualiser (tuned by the First Doctor to an alternative dimension naturally) as to what could have been the original follow up to An Unearthly Child and it’s great to finally hear it.
The Masters of Luxor is available from www.bigfinish.com now.