Doctor Who: The Fourth Wall
Why was Colin Baker sacked, exactly?
Writer: John Dorney
Starring: Colin Baker, Lisa Greenwood, Hywel Morgan
One of the things that strikes you listening to The Fourth Wall and the story that proceeds it, the excellent The Curse of Davros, is what a crying shame it was that Colin Baker's tenure as the Sixth Doctor on television was cut so mercilessly short.
Huge credit is due to Big Finish for not only the quality of the plays they produce but for giving Baker, one of the most underrated of the Doctors and an actor who was hamstrung from the start by increasingly odd production decisions and backstage infighting, a second chance to shine. And, boy, does he shine! His Doctor in the audios is a revelation. He's still the bombastic, patronising and egotistical alien of his TV stories, but Baker's pitch perfect performance uses these traits to make his Doctor funny and to accentuate the hero beneath.
Having a script from John Dorney doesn't harm things either. Fast becoming one of Big Finish's star writers, Dorney captures the black humour of the Sixth Doctor's era in a script that is clever, thrilling, poignant and laugh out loud funny. The plot sees a villain in a futuristic TV show and his minions escaping into the real world, and it's clear that the entire cast is having a whale of a time with most of them playing dual roles as actors on the show and the characters they play.
Baker, never one to rest on his laurels, is an actor you get the impression makes his fellow cast members want to raise their game resulting in exceptional performances all round. Special mention must go to Hywel Morgan as slimy actor Nick Kenton and the character he plays, the hilariously gung-ho idiot hero "Jack Laser." My only regret is that a way wasn't found to have Laser around for a few adventures as a companion to the Doctor in the "real" world.
Speaking of companions, Lisa Greenwood as Flip is astoundingly good. In only her second adventure as a regular sidekick, she has made the part her own, dashing into danger like a cheeky cockney lemming. A testament to how immediately likeable Greenwood has made Flip already, is how much we miss her when (BIG spoiler alert!!! Seriously... Don't say you weren't warned about this! You sure you want to carry on...? Fine! Your funeral. And Flip's) she's murdered (for a while). Flip allows the Sixth Doctor an opportunity to explore a previously unseen paternal side. There is a very tangible, unforced fondness in their scenes as she effortlessly blunts his spikier side.
With a bulletproof Doctor and companion pairing, and with scripts and cast members of this calibre, it seems the Sixth Doctor has found his natural home and has never been in ruder health. An absolute belter.
Doctor Who: The Fourth Wall is out now.
Click here for the trailer:
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