Home Truths

Posted in Audio by - February 28, 2019
Home Truths

Released November 2008

Sara Kingdom may not be a typical companion in the classic sense of the word, having only featured in “The Daleks’ Master Plan’ and meeting her demise in that same serial. However, Jean Marsh made such an impact as the Space Security Service agent who turned against Mavic Chen and thus helped to defeat the Daleks that the character has endured to the point that further adventures set within her brief televised run have always been imagined from the very start. Returning to the First Doctor era, Simon Guerrier’s ‘Home Truths’ gives Sara a new life that goes against any conventions The Companion Chronicles range has thus far created to deliver a powerfully poignant and introspective piece that is sure to resonate with listeners far after the story has concluded.

Because so few companions have met their ultimate fate alongside the Doctor, The Companion Chronicles has thrived by offering fascinating hints about what became of beloved characters after leaving the TARDIS for the final time. That is obviously an impossibility with Sara, but Guerrier chooses wisely not to altogether avoid the narrative framing device that has proven so successful but instead to directly incorporate it into the story being told as an officer arrives at a house to interrogate an elderly carekeeper mysteriously known as Sara Kingdom. Using a fluid back and forth in which Sara recounts her own adventure with the Doctor and Steven in this very house so long ago and then interacts with Robert to reveal details about both and further expand upon Sara’s erstwhile relationships, a chilling ghost story becomes all the more engrossing and layered as a result.

Horror is not necessarily a genre that Doctor Who delves into all too frequently despite the number of scares it has delivered over the many years, but Guerrier’s haunting words and the melancholic sound design perfectly develop the mystery surrounding the dead bodies that suddenly appear in the seemingly empty house where time has seemingly been paused. This is a confined location in which any sound could potentially be deadly as the mystery unfolds, but the story arguably becomes all the more effective once the house’s truth is revealed and the darkness present in every person- even if only ephemerally- is truly explored. Both aspects work both together and independently to heighten the uneasy tension pervading the narrative and to make every thought and action utterly unpredictable and totally consequential.

With Steven out of the picture in a brutal but ingenious move that truly sets the plot in motion, Guerrier is able to focus on Sara and the Doctor to magnificent effect, combining with Marsh’s steadfast authority to deliver an authentic recreation of this era and its immense potential and variability. Sara who has learned to be wary while traveling on the TARDIS again allows her forthrightness to shine through as she describes not letting any misdeed go unpunished and tries to make sense of the wonders that are beyond her comprehension while grasping onto any aspect of familiarity she can for comfort and support. She has come to regard the Doctor as a friend rather than the criminal she initially thought, and his ability to see details others have missed adds to his mystique as Sara describes how he can turn from fierce and even arrogant to calm and supportive when his companions most need him to be. Guerrier captures all of the First Doctor’s quirks and mannerisms spectacularly, and leaving the ending ambiguous without ever fully explaining the origins of this house adds to the dark fairy tale essence of ‘Home Truths’ and creates a nearly perfect amalgamation that epitomises what The Companion Chronicles is truly capable of achieving.

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