“Something found you here, something from the darkest corner of the night…”
…so utters the Fourth Doctor in Night of the Stormcrow and he’s not wrong. Those of you with Big Finish subscriptions that include this year’s December release 1001 Nights will have by now received your free copy of this story but for those of you that are not yet subscribers, read on, for there’s much to love about the Christmas special.
During the Phillip Hinchcliffe/Graham Williams producer handover of 1977, Doctor Who saw some big changes in the style and tone of its stories. The adventures took a radical swing from gothic horror to digestible science in a bid to tone down the series’ rising attention it was getting for being, quite frankly, brilliantly terrifying. Marc Platt has decided, and rightfully so, to offer us more of a Hinchcliffe era story reminiscent of Image of the Fendahl variety with its dark corridors, bleak night, terrible, if misunderstood, evil and a relentless Doctor.
This is a ghost story without ghosts, if that makes sense. Whilst we all know that aliens will be ultimately responsible for what is happening, the bumps and creaks and screams in the night are written and played out with brilliant effect. The No-Things, to coin a phrase from the Doctor, are fantastic creations by Marc Platt and are suitable unnerving for the Doctor Who audio format, one might even go as far as to say that they would adapt well to television screens as they tend to leave you very unsettled by their presence and would send many a child and adult running for the comfort that the space only found behind a sofa will provide when it comes to Doctor Who. Tom Baker is also on top form here as the Doctor and plays the character to full effect. Here, he strips the Doctor down and plays the story out entirely straight and wholly serious. Any larks or tomfoolery (get it?) that took place in the first series of Fourth Doctor Adventures is put on hold here as we’re treated to a Fourth Doctor without glib remarks or winks to the audience that we got so used to in the later Tom Baker years. The story simply bellows with power because of it.
This is one of the best, if not the best, Fourth Doctor Adventures that Big Finish has produced so far and if it’s any indication of what’s to come from series two then roll on the end of January!