Hunters of Earth

The Doctor and Susan are in 1960s London trying to repair the TARDIS without drawing attention to themselves. But something is turning the local teenagers against anyone who they think doesn’t belong in Coal Hill.

Like Eoin Colfer’s A Big Hand for the Doctor, Big Finish and AudioGo’s joint offering shows us the First Doctor and Susan’s lives before the events of An Unearthly Child. This is where the similarity ends, however. Hunters of Earth is authentic in a way Colfer never attempted. This is the First Doctor before his adventures began, a paranoid, mistrustful and reluctant refugee on Earth. He won’t get involved in the events around him until he has no choice for his own survival. This is entirely in keeping with the character at this time. He’s not a hero and hasn’t learnt to love humanity yet.

This is the first time Big Finish have been able to use elements of twenty-first century Doctor Who, so I was interested to hear what difference this makes. Early on there’s reference to suspicious character having an elaborate pocket watch that certainly makes the listeners ears prick up. There’s also a much more obvious reference from a Tenth Doctor story.

As we know the Doctor was busy squirrelling away the Hand of Omega at this point, but there’s no mention of that here. What this tale does share with Remembrance of the Daleks is themes of racism and social exclusion.

In traditional Doctor Who style, everyday technology is misused by malevolent forces against humanity. In this case in the form of transistor radios. It’s a smart callback to something we see is important to Susan during her time on Earth, and is relatable for today’s youth. The mobs of vicious adolescents on the rampage in this story rather bring to mind the chav riots of 2011.

Part-narrated by Carole Ann Ford, part-acted by her and Tam Williams (recalling something of the character Mike from Remembrance), this is most like one of Big Finish’s Companion Chronicles. Ford is superb, able to recapture the young Susan’s voice and tell the story to great effect. The Doctor somehow feels like a real presence in the story, which is not always the case in these type of productions.

The resolution ties in nicely with the first televised episode. Without even name-checking Ian and Barbara, the Doctor’s immediate hostility towards them and rash take-off is put into a different context when this story is taken into account.

The true nature of the threat is left largely undefined, presumably to be picked up later in the series. There’s some tantalising hints of what’s to come, which are to be eagerly anticipated on the strength of this first volume.

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2 thoughts on “Hunters of Earth

  1. Some great thoughts on this story. I hadn’t made the connection between this story and last year’s riots yet now you say it, that definitely makes a whole lot of sense and I agree with you that it’s fabulous how well this ties in with An Unearthly Child.

    I look forward to reading your thoughts on the rest of this series! 🙂

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