Living Legend

Posted in Audio by - January 10, 2019
Living Legend

Released November 2003

Originally released in Doctor Who Magazine issue 337 on a disc also including a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Big Finish’s fortieth anniversary release ‘Zagreus,’ Scott Gray’s ‘Living Legend’ sees the Eighth Doctor an Charley trying to save the world from the dreaded Threllip Empire as Italy basks in its 1982 World Cup glory.

Doctor Who and sporting events rarely cross paths, but the delirium of the local populace following the monumental victory is used to perfection to set the scene for this light-hearted romp. This isn’t a tale that will delve into any politics or world issues of the early 1980s, yet this more superficial narrative also represents a welcome reprieve after a lengthy sequence of very dramatic and weighty Big Finish affairs preceding this when listened to sequentially. Thus, while the story starts off quite traditionally with the Doctor heading off into the dark woods in search of alien activity he is picking up and Charley dutifully if exasperatedly following, the ensuing intervention against alien incursion is unquestionably one of the most memorable the Doctor has ever undertaken.

The Doctor and his companions are certainly no strangers to improvisation when faced with mounting danger and seemingly insurmountable odds, but rarely has improvisational comedy been so integral to success. Donning spare Time Lord robes from the TARDIS, Charley takes on the guise of Lady Charleyostiantayshius and the Doctor her awkward assistant who stands in awe of the fabled fleet captain Vengorr before him. The Threllips do hold a certain respect for the Time Lords and their vast knowledge and powers even if they know that they typically just observe the actions of far more interesting species, and that proves to be their downfall as Vengorr looks in on the local population while his second-in-command Thon learns of his own legacy. Unfortunately for Vengorr, he simply cannot understand the strange actions of the people before him as they dance and embrace with faces pushed closely together, and the Doctor informs him that the planet is suffering from an outbreak of World Cup fever, filling him with alcohol that he claims to be a vaccine and thus bringing out those same symptoms in the would-be aggressor. With Thon learning that his name exists in the future only because of a pet of Vengorr’s, the contrasting emotions the Threllips experience lead to a dramatic confrontation that all but ends any chance of success.

‘Living Legend’ is a superficial and straightforward affair that doesn’t try to achieve any of the complexities of a standard Big Finish release, but it’s so well-written and well-performed that it always commands full attention. Paul McGann and India Fisher play these distinct versions of their normal characters to absolute perfection, and Stephen Perring and Conrad Westmaas bring an incredible range of emotion to their gullible but forceful invaders who see their planned attempt foiled by pride and the apparent continuing spread of the highly contagious virus on the planet’s surface. As these two accept the Doctor’s offer to teleport them home with a surprising twist, this light but quirky and highly enjoyable tale comes to a close on a fitting note that lends a unique air to the fortieth anniversary.

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