The TARDIS lands in 60 A.D., where Leela is entranced by the sight of Boudica routing a legion of Roman soldiers. The Doctor, knowing full well how history will unfold for Boudica and her followers, orders Leela back to the TARDIS, only to be disobeyed. Leela saves Boudica from two Romans and then, after hearing her story, pledges to leave the TARDIS and fight by Boudica’s side. The Doctor attempts to leave, only to be accused of being a spy. Leela claims the Time Lord is a prophet, which saves him from execution but turns every word he says into something that could change the course of human history.
Cast: Tom Baker (The Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela), Ella Kenion (Boudica), Nia Roberts (Bragnar), Michael Rouse (Caedmon / Festucas), Daniel Hawksford (Pacquolas / Man)
Notes: Leela is in good company – Boudica, also sometimes called Boadicea, crossed swords with Xena in the controversial 1997 Xena: Warrior Princess episode The Deliverer, during that show’s third season, though that televised rendition of Boudica diverged even more from the known details of history than this audio story does. Ella Kenion also appeared in 2011’s TV episode Let’s Kill Hitler, as the crew member responsible for ensuring a close likeness to anyone whose body was copied by the Teselecta.
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: Oh, this is more like it. The Wrath Of The Iceni finally delivers on the promise of adding Tom Baker to the roster of Big Finish Doctors, thanks primarily to a great story ripped right out of the pages of British history by writer John Dorney (fresh from adapting the never-filmed fourth Doctor TV story The Foe From The Future for audio). The dialogue is crisp, but more importantly, you can understand the motivation of nearly every character. The whole story hinges on being able to sympathize with Leela when she sides with Boudica, and being able to sympathize with her when her faith in her new queen is broken. The whole story also builds to a scene where Boudica gets her butt kicked by the Sevateem warrior, too. Both of these are delivered beautifully by the first of the fourth Doctor scripts to not seem painfully rushed.
The Doctor is reduced almost to an observer here, while Leela takes the kind of active role that she was never given on television. Louise Jameson carries the whole thing with a fantastic performance (it helps that Ella Kenion provides a great portrayal of Boudica for her to spark off of), while Tom Baker gets to sit back and make wisecracks – a little too season 17 at times, perhaps, but also perfectly in character. In a way, The Wrath Of The Iceni is the same basic story outline as The Aztecs, all the way back from the first Hartnell season on television, deployed much more effectively.
One of the best things about The Wrath Of The Iceni is that, barring time traveler interference, it’s nearly all true, though the two-episode story doesn’t feel like it’s whacking you over the head with a history book. Sydney Newman would’ve been proud of this one.