Review by Doctor Squee (Host of Gallifrey Stands Podcast)
When Big Finish first got the rights to add the 8th Doctor to their line-up it was such an exciting moment. At the time we only had one TV outing for this Doctor and a few books. Yes, the first adventure sets a tone for a Doctor but there was still so much to know about him. So once we were getting 8th Doctor audio’s what would they do with him? Some of these first audio’s seemed to lean into the suggested psychic powers from the TV movie; others tended more toward a sense of mystery, but the best included a heavy sense of wonder and excitement to them and an adventuring spirit buoyed on by his new companion Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Pollard (Edwardian Adventurer).
The Chimes of Midnight by Robert Shearman was one of the huge highlights of the first series and seemed to completely nail the character in a way that I think influenced it going forward. The Doctor and Charlie land in an Edwardian mansion that is preparing for Christmas. To begin with the Doctor and Charlie seem out of phase with the events happening and can only hear echoes of the people there; but very soon they are pulled into their world. Soon people start to get murdered and the Doctor and Charlie set about finding the killer. But as the clock strikes the hour things get weirder and a few cases of murder becomes something even more sinister and mysterious.
14 years on this story hasn’t lost any of its punch. It’s been a while since I last listened to it and I was so thankful to have forgotten all the various twists to this intricate story so I could enjoy them again. It keeps you guessing and the conclusion; although you couldn’t work it out in a million years, makes total sense and has great pathos. Like some of the best Doctor Who stories it also deals with the human condition. What it is to be alive and what makes life worth it. It’s very easy to see how the writer of this story would go on to write Dalek for the first series of Doctor Who in the 2005 revival.
It’s also really great to see the lighter, more carefree 8th Doctor; before the more recent slightly grittier side of him that has been brought forward in Dark Eye’s and now The Doom Coalition series heading him toward his fate in the Time War. Paul McGann just shines in the character and the way he plays it brings a smile to my face. I also loved the relationship between him and Charlie played by India Fisher, Charlie being one of those amazing Big Finish companions you might never get on the TV version.
This lovely looking vinyl set also comes with a brand new documentary featuring amongst others writer Robert Shearman.
At £79.00 this one is for a serious collector but I feel this set earns the higher price tag and with only 500 copies available exclusively on the Big Finish website you’ll want to get yours quickly!
You can order the Chimes at Midnight here https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/the-chimes-of-midnight-limited-vinyl-edition-1441
You can hear an exclusive interview from the Gallifrey Stands Podcast with writer Robert Shearman about his work on Big Finish and more here.
Check out the rest of our Big Finish reviews!