The Sixth Doctor: The Last Adventure

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In the years following his trial at the hands the of the Time Lords, an old enemy plots the downfall of the Doctor throughout his sixth incarnation.

Big Finish have produced this box set to provide a final story for the Sixth Doctor. Due to the unfortunate nature of the way Colin Baker left the role, his last adventure does not end with a regeneration. The following story famously opens with his successor, Sylvester McCoy, in a blonde wig as the transformation begins.

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The first episode is The End of the Line, by Simon Barnard and Paul Morris. The Doctor is travelling with Constance Clarke, played by Miranda Raison (Tullulah in Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks). She is a WREN from World War Two. Due to a scheduling change this story is released before the story that introduces her, Criss Cross. It’s apt that this should happen in the Sixth Doctor’s regeneration audio story, as the same thing happens with Mel in his final television story.

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The story takes place in and around a train that has broken down in thick fog. Most people sitting with a bunch of strangers on a train, a bus, in a doctor’s waiting room etc have probably idly wondered about what would happen if you were trapped together in some sort of crisis, and this story, like Midnight or Planet of the Dead before it, take this is a starting point. The villain of the piece is a total surprise. There are several clues that could be read in a couple of different ways. One particular thread the story is the use of titles: new girl Constance insists on being called Mrs Clarke, the ticket inspector by his correct job title of Customer Service Manager and Miss Lloyd as Ms Lloyd. Even the packaging leads you down a totally different path, and Big Finish have found an ingenious way to bring a character from this era into the story that the listener would not expect.

Charlotte Pollard accompanies the Doctor in the next story, The Red House by Alan Barnes. This is set during the period he is unknowingly travelling with his future companion. This story has a new twist on the werewolf legend, and sees the plan against the Doctor begin in earnest.

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Given the cover of this set, it isn’t a massive spoiler to say that the Valeyard, that distillation of the Doctor’s dark side from between his twelfth and final regeneration, is the overarching villain of this anthology. An aspect of his character that isn’t fully explored in his TV appearance in The Trial of a Time Lord is that he has all the Doctor’s knowledge and memories; so that is something that makes him a deadlier adversary here. During The Ultimate Foe episodes, the Master refers to the character as, “The Valeyard, or as I’ve always know him, the Doctor.” It seems that, since his turn as prosecutor, he has now adopted the new title permanently, to differentiate himself from the Doctors. The Valeyard is almost an opposite of the War Doctor: whereas the latter rejected the title Doctor because he felt unworthy of it, the Valeyard feels himself superior to it.

The Doctor is not privy to the Valeyard’s machinations until the third instalment, Matt Fritton’s Stage Fright. This story re-unites Colin Baker’s incarnation with Jago and Litefoot (having taken them for a trip in the TARDIS in Voyage to Venus and Voyage to the New World). The infernal investigators have been alternating between meeting the Fourth and Sixth Doctors, and now take this in their stride. It’s always a total pleasure to hear Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter reprise their roles, and this is no exception.

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The Valeyard is quite a theatrical villain (he’s still a firm believer in villainous laughter, which has largely gone out of fashion in Doctor Who), and his plan here involves darkly comic re-enactments of the Doctor’s previous regeneration scenes. The Valeyard is the perfect choice for the Sixth Doctor’s nemesis: they share a verbose, grandstanding style and, like Sil, he’s unique to this era. There are some intriguing hints as to the Valeyard’s creation in the final episode, The Brink of Death by Nicholas Briggs.

Now travelling with Mel, who we know to be this Doctor’s final companion, the Valeyard manages to switch places with the Doctor. The climax of this story leads into Time and the Rani, and the two mirror each other in that Mel is replaced by an evil Time Lord in that story. It’s an epic story, with huge stakes, but played out very personally with just four main characters. The ending is quite movingly acted by Colin Baker, and manages the impressive feat of making me fancy watching Time and the Rani again.

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Order The Last Adventure:
The Sixth Doctor: The Last Adventure (Doctor Who)

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