The Doctor and Lucie find themselves in immediate danger when the TARDIS lands aboard a human warship in the distant future; not only does the bedraggled crew find the newcomers supicious, but the ship is under attack by Wirrn. Having encountered them before, the Doctor is able to lend a hand, but it’s too late: the ship is critically damaged, and the time travelers have to don space suits to abandon ship – and hope that the TARDIS will make its way to the planet below with the wreckage of the ship. On the planet, a thriving Wirrn colony awaits its new prey, but the Doctor suspects that there’s more to this conflict than meets the eye. Left on her own with a wounded admiral and a paranoid, trigger-happy soldier, Lucie is about to discover if she’s learned enough from the Doctor to keep herself alive.
Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), Sheridan Smith (Lucie Miller), Colin Salmon (Trooper Salway), Daniel Anthony (DeLong), Liz Sutherland (Farroll), Ian Brooker (Winslet), Beth Chalmers (Queen)
Notes: Wirrn Dawn is the first Big Finish appearance of the parasitic, insectoid Wirrn, whose only TV appearance to date was in Tom Baker’s second story, the all-time Doctor Who classic The Ark In Space. The Wirrn have already appeared in spinoff audio dramas produced by BBV. Also making his Big Finish debut here is Daniel Anthony, the actor who fans of the Sarah Jane Adventures will recognize as gung-ho series regular Clyde Langer; with David Tennant’s appearance in that show’s third season, Anthony has now worked alongside two Doctors.
Timeline: after The Beast Of Orlok and before The Scapegoat
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: Where Hothouse turned out to be not much more than a rapid-fire retelling of a classic series episode, Wirrn Dawn takes a much more interesting approach: it uses a classic villain and the facts established about that enemy, and puts those elements into play in a situation that’s significantly different from its earlier appearances.
The source story for the Wirrn, The Ark In Space, is not only an all-time Doctor Who classic but it’s arguably a major influence on Alien. Wirrn Dawn – whose title informs the viewer of who the story’s enemy is several minutes before the Doctor himself finds out – daringly puts the Wirrn into a situation where the only way to survive the day will be coexistence, rather than driving them away, challenging everything that either the characters or the listener knows about the Wirrn. That the Doctor quickly exhausts everything he learned about going on the offensive against the Wirrn during his previous encounter with them also puts the listener on notice that this will not be The Ark In Space Redux.
The small cast is excellent at helping to build the story’s claustrophobic setting, though it’s hard sometimes to get over how young Daniel Anthony sounds. That probably has a lot to do with why he’s a regular on The Sarah Jane Adventures, but as interesting as it is to hear him in another role, he doesn’t exactly sound battle-hardened.
Wirrn Dawn is a welcome revisitation of an enemy from Doctor Who’s past, mainly because it’s taking the opportunity to use an element from the show’s past to tell a new and different story.