Review: Doctor Who – Ghost Walk

Review by Kenton Hall

At the risk of seeming treasonously cross-fandom, I would now like to quote Star Trek on the three most important words in the universe. Not “I love you” or “Extra cheese, please”, although they clearly have their place in any fulfilled life, but rather “Let me help,” as our good, if priapic, Captain Jimmy T offers to Edith Keeler in The City on the Edge of Forever.

So far, so quotable, but I would like to offer an alternative and if they don’t have the same power for you as they do for me, then you need to rectify your reading and listening habits.

My nominee for most exciting three-word phrase is “by James Goss”.

Now, I am, as you might imagine, a writing nerd. Not a writer who is a nerd, although considering our subject matter, this is clearly also true, but a nerd about writers. I think all of us who follow television programmes or films have particular names that inspire confidence and anticipation when their credit appears on-screen.

In the realms of Doctor Who fiction and Big Finish audios, there are a number of names that fulfil this remit (I could write in equally purple terms about John Dorney, for instance) but let us not forget that Mr Goss has managed to take on the task of living up to the genius of Douglas Adams on multiple occasions, and come out of it not only unscathed, but gleaming like a coin of gold on a water-slicked rock.

Ghost Walk is a tightly plotted, ingenious story; with sufficient twists and turns for the most wimey of timey fans. But two things raise it above the already general high standard of Big Finish stories.

One, atmosphere. Audio, in particular, relies on atmosphere to draw us in, and between the sharp writing and the sound design, we are unsettled and rattled from the off.

Two, and perhaps most importantly, James Goss understands his characters. His Fifth Doctor is the Fifth Doctor and not simply an interchangeable go-to version of the character. And Peter Davison more than lives up to the promise. In fact, the entire TARDIS team is on excellent form here, with a script that writes for them specifically. It is always interesting to see the difference in Adric (Matthew Waterhouse), for instance, when a writer is in tune with our mathematical wizard in a way the television programme seldom was.

The guest cast are similarly well-served by the script and deliver performance to match. Fenella Woolgar and Sacha Dhawan are perhaps the names most familiar to fans, but there really isn’t a weak link here.

All in all, it’s an individual, scary tale that bears repeat listening.

And did I mention It’s by James Goss!

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