Following on from the first tale of the Seventh Doctor trilogy Persuasion, which was a serious and sombre affair to start the Doctor, Elizabeth Klein and Will Arrowsmith on their journey together; the second story, or act, if you will, is a far more of a romp in comparison.
Starlight Robbery finds the newest TARDIS crew attending a very unique arms auction run by one of the most slippery beings in the entire universe: Garundel. The slippery specimen, played excellently by Stuart Milligan (Nixon in The Impossible Astronaut/ Day of the Moon) is offering weapons to some very unique buyers at very unique rates but that’s not what’s grabbed the Doctor’s attention. Garundel, returning from last year’s Big Finish story Black and White, is also offering the Persuasion machine, something so deadly and so powerful that the Doctor and his acquaintances have been looking for it throughout the universe. But of course things are never that simple in Doctor Who, there’s several; other competitive bidders to get around first, including some rather trigger happy Sontarans…
Writer Matt Fitton has injected just the right mix of fun, action and drama into this story to help not only link together the overall trilogy for the Seventh Doctor for this year but to also create an interesting set of characters and scenarios to warrant this as more than just a filler story between two bigger ones. The Sontarans, played with impeccable style and versatility by the ever talented Dan Starkey, are far cleverer than we’ve encountered before. Their plotting, scheming and military precision blaze brightly in this story and their space battle scenes translate to audio incredibly effectively. Stuart Milligan nearly manages to steal the show with his return as Garundel; his creation of this character warrants further adventures that we’ve yet to see. If only he wasn’t joined by such an excellent supporting cast, he could have had this whole story as his own, but with a wide variety of interesting alien characters all with their own agenda, including Jo Woodcock playing Garundel’s adorable assistant Ziv, Starlight Robbery is all about the joint effort.
By the end of the tale, we’ve had double- and even treble-crossing but where director Ken Bentley really shines is with the moments that we don’t ‘see’. Space battles and explosions are all imagined well and the listener can easily imagine the scenario laid out for them. But its right at the end, when we all know what’s coming that Bentley really keeps everyone listening. It’s not a major twist, it’s not a surprise but it certainly is a nice delivery, as well as build up, to the final story in the trilogy.
This is another great story for the Seventh Doctor’s 2013 trilogy.
Starlight Robbery is available on CD or via download from Big Finish now.