A classified ad is placed, seeking qualified applicants for companions to a traveler in time and space. The Doctor arrives for the final interviews, finding four people with wildly varying personalities and skills. When a crisis unfolds at a gathering of scientists, the Doctor’s potential new companions have their work cut out for them – and so does the Doctor himself, for he wasn’t the one who placed the ad to begin with.
Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), James Bachman (Hugh Bainbridge), Shelley Conn (Asha Qureshi), Joe Thomas (Theo Lawson), Niky Wardley (Juliet Walsh), Sabina Franklyn (Wanda Rothman), Tony Millan (Leonard Pallister), Joanna Kanska (Rachel), Barnaby Edwards (Rafshaw)
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: A smartly self-referential intro for a new sidekick, Situation Vacant perfectly evokes the feel of a Russell T. Davies-era, let’s-meet-the-new-meat season opener, right down to an opening music cue that pretty much signals a dizzying zoom-in-from-orbit-to-London CGI shot in your imagination. It taps into the reality-TV-inspired millieu of contestants vying to come out on top in a series of challenges… but of course, The Apprentice has never quite managed to arrange the kind of hurdles that these would-be companions face.
It helps that Eddie Robson is behind the script; much like Human Resources, Situation Vacant is smart, funny and hip all at the same time, without breaking the Doctor Who universe at the same time. The cast is outstanding here, with each of the applicants showing potential to be ongoing characters. Everyone involved seems to have latched onto the quality of the script and made the most of it.
And there’s another touch of modern TV Who: the introduction of an ongoing mystery that’ll probably span the season. Who did place an ad designed to draw the Doctor’s attention? Fans who miss the feel and pace of the RTD era will feel right at home with Situation Vacant.