Back in February at Gallifrey One, Big Finish of course did their best to encourage us to take an interest in their latest output; I had a couple of encounters during the convention with Lauren Cornelius, who has been hired as the new Dodo. She was born after Old Who ended, a generation after Jackie Lane appeared as the first incarnation of Dodo on the screen, but conveyed immense enthusiasm for the role and successfully charmed me into buying her first two audios.
The Secrets of Det-Sen, released two months after the death of Jackie Lane last year, features Peter Purves playing both Stephen and the First Doctor, and is the prequel to The Abominable Snowmen, where if you remember the Second Doctor has somehow ended up with the holy ghanta, a sacred bell from Det-Sen monastery, which he brings back after 300 years. It’s by Andy Frankham-Allen, whose Lethbridge-Stewart spinoff books feature a lot of Yeti. To be honest, while I loved the performances, especially Cornelius throwing herself into Dodo, I felt the plot was a bit thin, but I enjoyed it anyway. You can get it here.
The two-story boxed set The Outlaws is better in a lot of respects. Both stories are by women – Lizbeth Myles and Lizzie Hopley; the first is set around the historical siege of Lincoln in 1216, though has a strong flavour of Robin Hood and reminded me a bit of the excellent Jonathan Morris story, “The Thief of Sherwood“, not least because both feature the Meddling Monk. Myles puts in some excellent twists and gives Cornelius as Dodo some good lines, with Glynis Barber as the (entirely historical) chatelaine of Lincoln Castle and Rufus Hound as the Monk.
The second story, The Miniaturist, is a really interesting experiment – I don’t recall another First Doctor story set in or near our present day, in this case 2019. Here we have scientific investigations in a salt mine that intersect with the titular alien entity (who is played by Annette Badland), and cause both the Doctor and Dodo to take a long look into themselves as well as trying to save the day. A thoughtful piece. You can get both stories here.
I’m sorry to say that I am not yet convinced by Stephen Noonan’s First Doctor. I have perhaps been spoiled by the different interpretations of Peter Purves and David Bradley, both of whom came to it via William Hartnell (Purves knew him personally of course, Bradley played him before playing the First Doctor). Noonan felt to me a bit unmoored, giggling and chortling more than necessary. You can judge for yourself from the behind-the-scenes video: