The Doctor returns to Scotland, finding history changed. The Jacobite uprising has lasted far longer than history records, and the oil well has been developed far ahead of schedule. Someone has begun stripping Scotland of its natural resources, and the fight for freedom is as bloody as ever, decades after it should have ended. Even more surprisingly, after encountering both British occupiers and Scottish freedom fighters, the Doctor is brought before the leader of the Scottish rebellion, Black Donald – a man the Doctor knows as Jamie McCrimmon. Naturally, thanks to the Time Lords wiping Jamie’s memories, Jamie has no idea who this incarnation of the Doctor is. All he knows is the ongoing fight to free his homeland from the domination of the Redcaps and their Overlord. Once Rob Roy turns up in the same time zone – decades before he should even be alive – the Doctor is determined to find out who’s playing fast and loose with human history. But with no idea of who this oddly-dressed English interloper is, Jamie McCrimmon isn’t sure who to trust.
Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), Georgia Moffett (Alice), Richard Earl (Victor), James Albrecht (Major Heyward), Russell Floyd (Sergeant Rilke), Sam Graham (Guthrie), Charlie Ross (Rob), John Banks (Red Cap)
Notes: Jamie has met the sixth Doctor before – in 1985’s television adventure The Two Doctors –
but something seems to be preventing him from remembering that collision of the Doctor’s second and sixth incarnations… or, indeed, of ever meeting the second Doctor.
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: The opening story of a new “season” comprising a trilogy of adventures with the sixth Doctor and Jamie, The City Of Spires conceals as much as it reveals, never entirely getting to the bottom of the massive changes to history. A lot of City‘s running time is spent leading the listener astray – as it turns out, the oil being pumped isn’t even oil. The question of whether anything in this story is what it seems is left wide open.
Frzser Hines has done several Companion Chronicles stories for Big Finish, all the way back to the earliest experimental releases of the now very popular two-voice audiobooks, but here he’s playing an almost completely different character, an older Jamie who has no memory of ever traveling in the TARDIS. But despite this, Jamie is still Jamie, even with a few extra decades of warfare under his belt. He still has an eye for the ladies and isn’t likely to back down from a confrontation. Thanks to The Two Doctors, we already know how Jamie plays off of the sixth Doctor; the gag here seems to be what it would be like if Jamie had never met the Doctor until now.
The cast members are good in their respective roles, but if you think constant escapes and recaptures are tedious on television, they get old in audio form as well. The baddies as a collective of leech-like aliens attaching themselves to a human host works well on audio (though the voice treatment veers back and forth between Ice Warrior and Sea Devil); it may be for the best that this is a story without a visual element!
The sheer amount of misdirection and vagueness in City Of Spires is enough to hook me into the following adventure, just to see what else doesn’t add up.