Whatever else this latest Companion Chronicle is, it’s different.
The Child, December’s final Companion Chronicle release of 2012, is a story told from beyond the grave. Leela, the former travelling companion of the Fourth Doctor, has finally shuffled off this mortal coil and found her eternal spirit reborn as a young lady called Emily. The two seem to coexist with Leela posing as an imaginary friend whilst she recounts tales of her amazing adventures with the Doctor. And that’s only the set up for the main story.
Because The Child moves on to tell one of the most far out and fantastical tales that the Companion Chronicles has ever produced. Forget setting the story firmly in the Hinchcliffe/Williams era when Leela was aboard the TARDIS, The Child makes a brand new strand of stories for the Fourth Doctor and Leela. These are brave new tales with no boundaries, no rough guides and no rules. This is science fantasy rather than science fiction and it’s all rather refreshing.
Let’s not forget that we have Louise Jameson and Tom Baker in a separate line of Fourth Doctor Adventures that represent their time together rather splendidly, so rather than extend that to overkill with this range, writer Nigel Fairs offers listeners something very different indeed. But if things in this story are the antithesis of a traditional Doctor Who story, there’s still plenty to enjoy in the spirit of the adventure, with baron worlds that offer glass falls, robot mechanical men of the menacing variety, a rather angry Glass Angel that holds the good Doctor prisoner and help from three rather familiar characters summoned by the Fourth Doctor…
Jameson takes the bull by the horns here and tells Leela’s story with bravado and courage. It’s certainly pleasing that after such a rush to get Leela moved out of the Fourth Doctor’s life on television, there’s still plenty to find out and enjoy about this brave warrior woman and her unwavering loyalty to the Doctor. Her relationship with Emily, her newly acquired symbiotic and spiritual sister, is also something of a winner as well. Emily is being raised by her mother and father to be a woman of her time. If she acts accordingly, she’ll be rewarded with a husband and can live out her life as the perfect housewife. It’s a purpose that the character wishes to fulfil. Juxtaposing her with Leela of the Sevateem, a strong, independent, violent and aggressive woman is surely something that will be explored more in further tales.
The Child takes what you expect from a Companion Chronicle and turns it on its head to create and altogether more surprising story. For those of you wanting to try something a little different in the Companion Chronicle range, this is for you.
The Child is available from www.bigfinish.com now.