The Doctor and Peri arrive at a pleasant resort in 1913, meeting an assortment of fellow vacationers, few of whom are actually on vacation. Inspector Chardalot is pursuing a quarry he considers very dangerous, and Nurse Albertine is visiting in the company of a fellow vacationer who prefers not to show his face. That face is exactly what Miss Bultitude, a movie buff, would like to see. And the reason one of the vacationers isn’t showing his face? He’s Toby the Sapient Pig, a reclusive film star who is, in actuality, a sentient pig. But Toby’s not the only pig present, and his pursuers (whether adversaries or admirers) will stop at nothing to find him. Caught up in this collision of personalities and motives, the Doctor and Peri can do little but try to keep themselves, and anyone nearby, from coming to harm.
Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri), Adjoa Andoh (Nurse Albertine), Paul Brooke (Toby the Sapient Pig), Michael Keating (Inspector Chardalot), Maureen O’Brien (Miss Alice Bultitude)
Timeline: after Timelash and before Revelation Of The Daleks
Notes: Actress Maureen O’Brien played TARDIS traveler Vicki, the first-ever “new companion” in the history of Doctor Who, during the William Hartnell years; she went on to star in Big Finish’s series Dalek Empire IV: The Fearless before returning to the role of Vicki in the Companion Chronicles. Michael Keating, who had already appeared in such Big Finish audios as The Twiligiht Kingdom, was the only original Blake’s 7 cast member to appear in all 52 episodes of that series; he later resumed the role of Vila when Big Finish picked up the license to produce classic Blake’s 7 audio dramas. Adjoa Andoh had made her first appearance in the newly revived TV series earlier in 2006 (as Nurse Jatt in New Earth), but would become a semi-regular for the 2007 and 2008 seasons as Martha Jones’ mother.
LogBook entry & review by Earl Green
Review: A pleasant enough story that’s heavier with verbal interplay than it is with anything resembling action, Year Of The Pig has to be admired for how it revels in its own absurd notion that bipedal pigs are passing unnoticed on Earth (then again, we’d already had the Slitheen-engineered pig pilot of Aliens Of London, so it could be argued that this is our second slice of alien ham). One of the story’s most oddball scenes implies, though this is later put to rest as misdirection, that even Ibsen and Shakespeare might’ve been pigs.
Delightfully weird even by Doctor Who standards, Year Of The Pig is at least well cast; Paul Brooke brings something almost Sterling-Holloway-esque to the role of Toby, and Michael Keating isn’t far behind him. This was Maureen O’Brien’s return to the world of Doctor Who, which would eventually lead her to reprise her Hartnell-era companion role for Big Finish numerous times. As absurd as some of the story’s central notions are, it’s all played for gentle humor rather than broad farce (though it is laugh-out-loud funny when one of the characters is accused of keeping his pockets full of raisins for pigging-out purposes). Also keep an eye out for the Doctor not being able to hold his liquor, and all but assaulting Marcel Proust (in an admiring, fannish way, of course).
Year Of The Pig is a fun listen; compared to most other Big Finish stories, it’s a bit slim on incident and action, but this is a case where you have to trust the central gimmick of the story and see how it all comes together. The universe is not at stake here (though it could be argued that there are a few high-steaks scenes to beef things up), but instead the TARDIS team arriving in time to witness a family drama play itself out for the last time.