After the Doctor and Clara have cleared up a little misunderstanding on a flooded planet, they arrive still laughing in twentieth century America to find they are in the city of Dallas on 23rd November 1963, the day after President John F. Kennedy has been brutally assassinated. The miasma of grief is palpable but, there is more, people all over the city and the world are starting to see the faces of their beloved deceased loved ones. The faces and accompanying voices accuse the living of a terrible crime of failing them.
While Dallas reporter Mae Callan looks through the distressing photographs of Kennedy’s death, she sees the face of her dead grandmother who starts to grow out of the desk and shriek. She really needs a doctor. Across the Atlantic, a police constable out on patrol in Totter’s Lane is haunted by the face of his dead father. The Shroud is coming and its appetite is huge.
It’s all rather grim but you know that somehow this will all come right and the 6 CD audio read by Frances Barber goes from Dallas to beyond and back to cure the ills of the Earth. The day of the assassination saw the TV birth of ‘Doctor Who’ and I suppose in a small way the continuation of normality gave shape to a world traumatised by such a vast event. ‘Shroud Of Sorrow’ manages to pack in lots of references to the last fifty years of ‘Doctor Who’ and, as its central theme, is grief there is a whole lot of that. With all those adventures and all those companions and so many memories and loss, oh my, this gets quite deep at times trying to span across the generations of fans and hopefully inspiring youngsters to go back and try the older stuff.
‘Shroud Of Sorrow’ manages to be quirky, witty and draw on deep fears as well as guilt but it is, like the Doctor, overwhelmingly optimistic that this can all be overcome. I very much enjoyed listening to this debut in the ‘Doctor Who’ world for Tommy Donvaband. It seems to show a great love and respect for the character and I’m sure there will be more from Tommy. There is a lot here for fans old and young including the introduction of another trans-dimensional machine that will make you laugh. I would have loved to see this brought to the screen because it has so many visual elements. It also marks Clara’s first entry into the novel world of ‘Who’ and pulls along some subsidiary companions who have their own back story. Did I say I loved it? Well I do.
(pub: Audio Go/BBC. 6 CDs 340 minute story. Price: CD: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-47132-988-3. Download: £ 6.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-47132-989-0)
reader: Frances Barber