Black And White

Doctor WhoNo sooner have Ace and Hex found refuge in the black TARDIS then they realize they’re not alone inside it: Captain Lysandra Aristedes, formerly of the Forge, seems to be in control, along with Private Sally Morgan, a soldier the Doctor once rescued from the Bluefire Project. Aristedes and Morgan claim to have been traveling with the Doctor for some time, hunting down and fighting the same kind of elder gods from which Ace and Hex have only just escaped. The black TARDIS then materializes within the white TARDIS, but neither pair of the Doctor’s companions trusts the other enough to let them take off with a working TARDIS. Aristedes allows Ace to accompany her, while Morgan is assigned to go with Hex. Each TARDIS, black and white, arrives several years apart on seventh century Earth; Ace and Aristedes meet a brash future warrior king named Beowulf, while Hex and Morgan meet Beowulf at the end of his reign (and his life). An alien arms dealer named Garundel is also on Earth in this time period, peddling wares beyond human understanding. With teams from the TARDIS at the beginning and end of his rule, King Beowulf’s life could become a tale beyond belief…

Order this CDwritten by Matt Fitton
directed by Ken Bentley
music by Jamie Robertson

Cast: Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Philip Olivier (Hex), Maggie O’Neill (Lysandra Aristedes), Amy Pemberton (Sally Morgan), Stuart Milligan (Garundel), Michael Rouse (Young Beowulf), Richard Bremmer (Old Beowulf), John Banks (Weohstan), James Hayward (Wiglaf)

Notes: The white TARDIS first appeared in The Angel Of Scutari, while the black TARDIS first appeared in Robophobia. Garundel recovers from this story and encounters the seventh Doctor much later in Starlight Robbery (2013).

Timeline: after Protect And Survive and before Gods And Monsters

LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green

Review: Much like Protect And Survive, Black And White has a major logistical hurdle to overcome: the story’s nominal Doctor isn’t there for most of it. Sylvester McCoy puts in a smattering of flashback appearances, explaining how he came to be traveling with Aristedes and Morgan, but yet again the story has to be carried by the Doctor’s companions, and in this case more equals merrier. (Released at roughly the same time was a single-disc Companion Chronicles story, Project: Nirvana, which gives a bit more depth to the unlikely twist of the Doctor traveling with Aristedes and Morgan while Ace and Hex duck and cover from World War III.) This unusually large TARDIS team works surprisingly well in the Doctor’s absence.

Doctor WhoSpicing things things up quite a bit is the fact that not every guest character in the story is painted in shades of “This! Is! Spartaaaaa!” caricature (despite an alternate pre-release cover which Big Finish initially released online to conceal the involvement of the two additional companions in the story). If any one character completely defies expectations, however, it’s Garundel, given a delivery eerily reminiscent of Paul Lynde by Stuart Milligan (who had recently appeared as President Nixon on TV Doctor Who the year before). It’s an uncanny choice that definitely prevents Garundel from being mistaken for anyone else in a story loaded with decidedly macho characters.