The Doctor, Klein and Will discover that Schalk’s Persuasion Machine design – and possibly even Schalk himself – are up for grabs in an auction of rare weapons of mass destruction. Such a sale of salacious merchandise has already drawn the attention of such unsavory suitors as the Sontarans and other assorted warmongers. Hosting the auction is the equally unsavory Garundel, unaware that his own underling, Ms. Ziv, is planning a double-cross of her own. The Doctor adopts a curiously hands-off approach to this TARDIS trip, assigning Klein and Will to stage a heist of their own to steal the Persuasion machine and Schalk himself. But things quickly go wrong, leaving the Doctor with little choice but to take a more direct hand in events, and risking the lives of his companions.
Cast: Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Tracey Childs (Elizabeth Klein), Christian Edwards (Will Arrowsmith), Stuart Milligan (Garundel), Dan Starkey (Marshal Stenn / Major Vlaar / Sergeant Gredd / Asallis), Jo Woodcock (Ziv), Lizzie Roper (Krakenmother Benarra)
Notes: Actor Dan Starkey is the voice of the Sontarans for both Big Finish and the BBC, having played the eleventh Doctor’s well-meaning-but-still-Sontaran ally Strax in television Doctor Who, and having appeared as other Sontarans since the creatures’ return to modern Who in The Sontaran Stratagem (2008). Starkey also plays the magical imp Randal Moon in Russell T. Davies’ CBBC series Wizards Vs. Aliens. Stuart Milligan, who appeared in previous Big Finish audio stories The Reaping and Lurkers At Sunlight’s Edge, also appeared in televised Doctor Who as President Richard Nixon in The Impossible Astronaut and Day Of The Moon; he first played Garundel in 2012’s audio story Black And White.
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: Where Heroes Of Sontar played the Sontarans for somewhat bittersweet laughs, Starlight Robbery is deadly earnest in its treatment of the Sontarans – emphasis on “deadly”. Though wisecracks are still made about their height, the Sontarans can be taken very seriously on this occasion, about as seriously as a pack of bloodthirsty Klingons, even though not every other character in the story is as badass. Dan Starkey, TV’s Strax, voices the Sontarans here, so there’s a consistent continuum of Sontaran voices between TV and audio. But there’s other standout voice work here, including Stuart Milligan as the strangely Paul-Lynde-esque reptilian arms dealer Garundel, and Jo Woodcock as Miss Ziv, a character who’s built up as Potential Companion Material before meeting the inevitable fate of guest characters who are built up as ideal Potential Companion Material.
The “Klein + Will trilogy” continues to provide intrigue aplenty among the regulars, even outside of the plot of the given story. Here we have Klein discovering that there’s a previously unknown connection between herself and Schalk, Will Arrowsmith getting a heartbreaking doomed romance (!), and the Doctor making plenty of enemies just by being the Doctor. (He’s good at that.) One suspects that things are divided up this way because of Sylvester “Radagast” McCoy’s busy ongoing schedule of either filming or promoting the Hobbit trilogy, so essentially giving him only one third of the story hands off the dramatic workload to his fellow cast members. Klein and Will continue to be a TARDIS team that manages to be both appealing and fraught with tension.
Starlight Robbery is a rollicking caper with laughs and danger in equal measure. Big Finish seems to be trying, quite often, to marry the post-modern feel and character development of modern TV Doctor Who comfortably with the four-episodes-with-cliffhangers format of classic Doctor Who; this is one example of that combination being pulled off seamlessly.