Jenny and Susan: The Doctor’s daughter and the Doctor’s granddaughter

Two more Big Finish audios to report on in my week of BF write-ups: these concern the only canonical descendants of the Doctor in TV Who (though there is an adopted daughter as well in spinoff fiction). Carole Ann Ford returns after fifty-something years to play Susan in the aftermath of the Daleks’ Invasion of Earth, and Georgia Tennant comes back for a second series of adventures as Jenny, the Doctor’s daughter. In both cases they are backed up by Sean Biggerstaff as the male lead.

I hugely enjoyed the first series of audios featuring Georgia Tennant as Jenny, and hugely enjoyed the second, Jenny: Still Running, as well. (In the meantime we’ve also had an excellent double header-with Peter Davison and another with Michelle Ryan as Christina de Souza.) In all cases she is backed up by Sean Biggerstaff as the naive but enigmatic Noah, who does not know his own origins.

The first of these, Inside the Moldovarium by Adrian Poynton, brings back Simon Fisher-Becker as Dorium Maldovar from the TV stories A Good Man Goes to War and The Wedding of River Song. Jenny and Noah discover that he is trying to sell a TARDIS to the highest bidder, and attempt to intervene; but the situation turns out to be more complex than they thought. Everyone is clearly enjoying themselves.

In the second, Altered Status by Christian Brassington and Matt Fitton, a closed society is gradually being taken over by Suits who strongly resemble the Mondasian Cybermen of The Tenth Planet and Spare Parts; I have always found the Cybermen the least interesting of the classic Who monsters, but a good effort is made here.

The highlight of the set is the third play, Calamity Jenny by John Dorney. As you will surmise from the title, it’s a Western story with narration by Michael Brandon (Mr Glynis Barber) and only two other named actors, Jana Carpenter (killed by the Dalek in Dalek) and veteran voice actor James Goode. There are a couple of lovely key concepts here – an unlucky crystal that causes the owner to achieve the opposite of what they want, and a neatly done time paradox. Dorney is one of Big Finish’s best writers, and that is high praise.

But I also really liked the final installment, Her Own Worst Enemy by Lisa McMullin. The first Jenny series featured Jenny and Noah being pursued by a killer cyborg played by Siân Phillips, who you may remember from I CLAVDIVS and who turns 90 next year. In this story Jenny and Noah go back along the cyborg’s timeline to try and prevent it from becoming a killer, making interesting discoveries about the future society from which it came. A core plot element, of social engineering and weeding out the unfit, is reprised from Altered Status but I think done a bit better, and there is a brutal twist ending setting up the next Jenny series. Anyway, recommended and you can get it here.

I think Siân Phillips is not quite the oldest actor to appear in a Big Finish audio; that honour must belong to William Russell, who was born in 1924 and reprised Ian Chesterton in a 2020 story starring Carole Ann Ford as Susan. I listened to that and enjoyed it during the pandemic, but failed to write it up at the time (I may get back to it).

In After the Daleks, Roland Moore (who I think is a new writer for me) tells the story of Susan and her boyfriend David (played by Sean Biggerstaff, as noted above, rather than Peter Fraser who has not been seen since 1981) in the immediate aftermath of the repulsion of the Daleks and the departure of the TARDIS without Susan on it. We have another character called Jenny, retained from the original 1964-5 story but this time played by Lucy Briers, daughter of Ann Davies who originated the role (but sadly died earlier this year) and also of Richard Briers. It’s a good complex drama suggesting that the worst monsters sometimes come in human form. You can get it here.