‘Persuasion’ is part of a two-CD monthly ‘Doctor Who’ adventure starring Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor and it forms part of a trilogy of adventures (‘Starlight Robbery’ and ‘Daleks Among Us’) to be concluded in subsequent months.
It sees the return of Tracey Childs as Elizabeth Klein, many people’s favourite sort-of companion for the Doctor. We also get an additional traveller in the hapless Will Arrowsmith (Christian Edwards). Will is the assistant to Klein, currently the Head Scientific Officer for UNIT (from the story ‘UNIT Dominium’). When the pair meet up for an ad hoc staff appraisal, they find themselves hi-jacked by the Umbrella Man, who is, as Will comments, the most dangerous incarnation of the many Doctors.
Although it’s Klein who the Doctor wants to take, Will secretly follows them into the TARDIS, hoping to improve his practical field skills and finds himself on an amazing adventure. For a lad who’s not known for being good in the field, he’s definitely on a steep learning curve. Happily for the narrative, Will is obsessed with recording everything that happens in his trusty dictaphone, an almost perfect method for an audio, a director’s commentary!
If the Doctor is dangerous, he needs to be, for the supernatural beings that have arrived on Earth with needs of their own are a most deadly enemy. Their particular trait is they speak as if they were in a Shakespeare play. It is amazingly effective, the beauty of their words hiding their true nature. When the Shepherdess (Miranda Raison) and the Shepherd (Paul Chahidi) are speaking, nothing else matters and it fits in well with their perceived god-like nature.
When the Doctor, Klein and Will arrive in a bunker in Dusseldorf, just as the Second World War ends, they meet Lucas Hinterberger who seems to recognise Klein. Something is surely amiss here. His boss, Kurt Schalk, is missing and someone is after his greatest work, the persuasion machine.
As the scenes shift and the players meet, many truths will emerge and many nightmares ensue for the Shepherd and Shepherdess are the destroyers of worlds and the Doctor must be at his best to defeat them.
Writer Jonathan Barnes has juggled many elements in this excellent four-part adventure and crams a lot in to it. There is some real drama, elements of farce and the well-meaning Will Arrowsmith adds the human dimension to Klein and the Doctor. All the characters contribute to the whole and with some questions unanswered at the end the stage is set for the next installment.
(pub: Big Finish. 2 CDs 120 minute story. Price: CD: £14.99 (UK), Download: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78178-075-6)
cast: Sylvester McCoy, Tracey Childs, Christian Edwards, David Sibley, Jonathan Forbes, Paul Chahidi, Miranda Raison and Gemma Whelan
check out website: www.bigfinish.com