What would you do if you were given the opportunity to change your future? What if you knew when you were going to die and have the chance to prevent it? To a point, science is propelling us to being able to do some of that, but it’s still a very sci-fi concept and has deep moral questions to be answered. It’s fitting then that a very modern dilemma has come to call on a Classic Doctor Who companion.
In Big Finish’s Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles – Starborn, First Doctor companion, Vicki, is confronted by an apparition of her future self, come to warn her of impending danger should she go back on the TARDIS with the Doctor, Ian, and Barbara.
The story, falling immediately after the TV serial The Romans, is fantastically written by Jacqueline Rayner and features the voice work of Maureen O’Brien and Jacqueline King, the former having played Vicki on-screen in Classic Doctor Who and the later known for playing the mother of Tenth Doctor companion, Donna Noble. O’Brien handles the roles of present and future Vicki, Anet (one of the Starborn), and the voices of the Doctor and Barbara. King plays the role of Madam Violet to perfection, without falling into the trap of making the spirit medium too dramatic, a definite credit to King’s performance.
Something keeps Vicki from reentering the TARDIS and Madam Violet begs her to return to her home, as a spirit is pleading to speak with Vicki and warn her of the events to befall her should she rejoin the TARDIS and head to their next destination. This destination is a planet where a network of “stars” power and protect the planet. Only, the stars aren’t really stars, but people of the planet who are deemed “Starborn” and are destined to take the place of the Starborn before them when they burn out. The story, told to present Vicki by her future self, finds Vicki making friends with a resident, Anet, who is destined to be the next to take her place in the network. The Doctor decides that they will stay on the planet to witness Anet’s ascension, however an unfortunate turn of events find Vicki taking Anet’s place to keep the network intact and safe from the would be invaders, coming to steal the power of the network.
O’Brien manages to play two versions of the same character with enough passion and difference that you can not only distinguish between the two, but that you’re actually more engaged with the plot because of it. Like most entries in the series before it, the voice work is handled by 1-3 individuals and this listener wonders what it would have been like had a full cast been assembled for the production. However, this ultimately doesn’t take away from the production as it is a very strong and enjoyable piece; highly recommendable!
Big Finish’s Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles – Starborn is available now, in both CD and digital formats.