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Doctor Who: Destination Nerva by Nicholas Briggs

01/07/2012. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Doctor Who: Destination Nerva in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who: Destination Nerva in the UK

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pub: Big Finish. 1 CD 60 minute story. Price: CD: 10.99 (UK), Download: 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-607-2)cast: Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Raquel Cassidy, Sam Graham, Tilly Gaunt, Tim Bentinck, Kim Wall and Tim Treloar.

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'It was a dark and stormy night', intones the Doctor, offering Leela use of his umbrellas as they arrive in a rainy, dark Victorian London.

Curiously, he is commenting on making use of the available moonlight as they enter a house where, according to Leela, a battle has taken place. Either the weather cleared up in thirty seconds or someone didn't read the script thoroughly.

Such niggles aside, we lurch through an encounter with a brave butler, a dying alien and our two friends get a rescue mission: 'Destination Nerva'.

Space station Nerva is still under construction when the Doctor and Leela arrive with some of the builders. But when another person comes through the airlock he is not what he appears. Very soon the Space Station Commander, Moreau (David Bentinck), is under siege but it's the Doctor and Leela who must make a last stand.

This good old-fashioned story is the first the Fourth Doctor made for Big Finish and I'm not sure why he waited so long. Tom Baker's fruity tones and his evident delight at his delivery of patently absurd dialogue is a delight as ever. Louise Jameson as Leela also wraps her vocal cords gymnastically around her character's words.

There is a real attempt here to make us engage with the 'bought-in' characters that must populate each new adventure. It's a little clumsy in the case of Doctor Alison Foster (Raquel Cassidy) and her back story but mostly it's done purely by the dialogue and the strength of the actor playing it. Cassidy and Tilly Gaunt, who plays the young officer Laura Craske, of having voices where you instantly place a character in your head. Tim Bentinck will always be David Archer (BBC radio soap 'The Archers') to me and, as the head of the space station, I became quite concerned for the welfare of his dairy herd. He does make a commanding commander, though, so I don't know why he has been hiding his head under a bushel or possibly a heifer all these years.

'Destination Nerva' is a good introduction to Big Finish's Fourth Doctor series. As the tag line goes 'it's Saturday tea-time in 1977 all over again' and I should know that was my tea time, too, and old cynic that I am, I'm happy to feel that age again.

Sue Davies

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