The TARDIS is dragged off course to the year 1006, a year in which no one on Earth should have technology capable of doing so. The Doctor and Tamsin find themselves near the Abbey of Kells, a site from which, according to history, the Book of Kells is about to be stolen. The Doctor and Tamsin immediately find signs that something is amiss: the remains of a vortisaur are found in the abbey, and murderous plots are overheard nearby. Worse yet, technology that shouldn’t exist on Earth for at a millennium is hidden away in the abbey’s secret passages. The Doctor realizes that they’re very near the point at which history records the theft of the Book of Kells, so he’s convinced that another time traveler is here to take the legendary religious artifact. While he does find another time traveler – and a familiar one at that – the true fate of the Book of Kells just isn’t that simple…
Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), Niky Wardley (Tamsin Drew), Jim Carter (Brother Bernard), Terrence Hardiman (King Sitric), Graeme Garden (Abbot Thelonious), Ryan Sampson (Brother Patrick), Nick Brimble (Olaf Eriksson)
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: A fun little romp through a historical event that some listeners may find needs some illumination (okay, yeah, I went there), The Book Of Kells also brings back an obscure Doctor Who villain that we haven’t heard from in ages – in fact, we haven’t heard from him at all in the audio medium.
If you hadn’t already guessed, abbeys are full of monks, and this story’s villain is hiding among them, which would mean that he’s pretty good at passing himself off as a monk too. This is a character for whom some additional examination is long overdue – other media have fallen short for my tastes (I always thought, for example, that it was howlingly funny that the old FASA Doctor Who role-playing game claimed that the Meddling Monk was an earlier, but somehow more benign, incarnation of the Master). The clues are there – particularly if you’ve watched the DVD of The Time Meddler recently – but it’s just a matter of figuring out who among the guest cast is the culprit. (After all, we’re talking about another Time Lord here, capable of changing his appearance.)
The cast is top-notch, including an always-welcome return engagement by Graeme Garden of the Goodies fame, who has now worked with nearly all of the “Big Finish Doctors.” Terence Hardiman, having recently appeared along Matt Smith’s Doctor as the shifty Hawthorne in The Beast Below, also puts in an appearance worthy of his talents. Niky Wardley continues to make Tamsin a force to be reckoned with, though her own alias is giggle-inducing, what with the edelweiss and all. Though there are a few moments in The Book Of Kells that attempt to be deadly serious drama, for the most part it’s a light-hearted adventure, befitting its returning villain.
But what’s really surprising is that the Monk isn’t the biggest surprise – not by a long shot. Make sure you keep listening after the end credit music. This is another character that I expected to hear from again… but not in this context.