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Doctor Who: Persuasion (July 2013) Review

Big Finish July 2013 Release
Doctor Who Main Range 175

Cast: Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Tracey Childs (Dr Elizabeth Klein), Christian Edwards (Will Arrowsmith), David Sibley (Kurt Schalk), Jonathan Forbes (Lukas Hinterberger), Paul Chahidi (The Shepherd/Bondsman Tango-Veldt), Miranda Raison (The Shepherdess/Acquisitor Prime), Gemma Whelan (Casta/The Sylph/Khlecht)

Written by: Jonathan Barnes
Directed by: Ken Bentley

Reviewed by Oliver Jenkins for The Gallifrey Times

This review may contain spoilers.

The Seventh Doctor’s manipulative nature has always intrigued me, and this story is really one that grasps that nature firmly and runs with it.

The story itself centres around a post-war Earth, and the tone of the story reflects this perfectly. The characters of the ex-Nazis have the listener constantly on edge, as you’re never sure where their loyalties lie. The tone of unease to the audio is expertly continued as the name of the alien enemy is revealed as the name of a German monster from a fictional story. The fact that the alien is named after something so familiar to the characters enlarges the contrast between familiar and (no pun intended) alien concepts. The tone of alien concepts is very much continued in the appearance of the Doctor at a UNIT meeting, which shows how the organisation can know this man so well yet know so little about him.

Speaking about UNIT, this was my first experience of Arrowsmith and Klein, and let me say they are two superb characters. Will Arrowsmith is instantly likeable, and I will have to sought out some more audios with him in. Elizabeth Klein is also a great character, level headed, and completely logical when faced with danger and peril. The dialogue between the two and the Doctor is delightful, and illustrates perfectly the relationship between the Time Lord and his former place of work.

Throughout the story, Barnes does a magnificent job of fleshing out the characters into three dimensions, even characters that don’t need that much of an elaboration on for the story to be told. This fleshing out of the characters is crucial when writing a story for audio release, as it makes it more immersible for the reader.

As stated in the introduction, the manipulative nature of the Seventh Doctor is fully explored in this story, and it is breathtaking to witness. You can really see how the Cartmel Masterplan could make perfect sense with this Doctor, and Sylvester McCoy’s performance delivers the menace with precision and perfect pronunciation.

Overall, Persuasion is a wonderful story, and one that I would fully recommend. It is a bit difficult to follow, however, if you’re not fully immersed in it, as the story takes twists and turns that can leave you confused if you’re not fully paying attention. Then again, this is really applicable to any Big Finish story, and short of keeping my eyes closed and being focused for two hours, I can’t do much about that. The characters in the story are superb and the setting is brilliant, making the story a fully immersive experience. I think I’ll now have to go and find some more work of Jonathan Barnes, as I really enjoyed his work in this adventure.

The Gallifrey Times Rating: 9/10
Many thanks to Big Finish Productions for providing the audio for the review.
Picture courtesy of Big Finish.