The Spectre of Lanyon Moor

Posted in Audio by - February 23, 2016
The Spectre of Lanyon Moor

Released June 2000

Big Finish’s ninth main range offering, ‘The Spectre of Lanyon Moor,’ once more teams up Colin Baker’s Doctor and Maggie Stable’s Evelyn Smythe in what has already proven to be a dynamic new pairing, finally fixing a glaring omission in the Doctor Who canon by having the Sixth Doctor officially meet and interact with the Brigadier.

The story itself evokes a shifting tonality that encompasses all of the 1970s televised era, with more direct comparisons to ‘The Daemons’ and ‘City of Death.’ However, while the occurrences and ambience will surely appease many long-time fans, this truly is Nicholas Courtney’s time to shine. He effortlessly slips back into his iconic role of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, and the camaraderie between the Doctor and him has never been so prevalent as it is here. There’s something familiar and safe about the Brigadier that Courtney effortlessly evokes no matter the situation or potential consequnces; as Doctors and companions change, the Brigadier is always there carrying on the good fight, offering a sense of stability and forming an anchor for the Doctor’s wild world that benefits any story in which he appears.

The script itself is overall a very strong one as well. The Doctor and Evelyn happen upon an ancient Cornish fogou that has many strange phenomena associated with it. As the Doctor begins investigating Philip Ludgate’s archaeological discoveries and Evelyn does some local research with Sir Archibald Flint, it becomes increasingly apparent that these phenomena are seemingly extraterrestrial in origin. Overall it is quite a straightforward tale- and certainly one with some extreme moments of violence- although very refreshingly the very powerful extraterrestrial force is simply looking to get off of Earth. The moor provides a suitably haunting backdrop, but Big Finish does a very good job in bringing the vast array of wildly different settings to life expertly.

Colin Baker continues to wonderfully soften his often brash Doctor while still utterly dominating every scene he is in, and he has already formed an easygoing respect for and friendship with Evelyn who herself continues to impress as she defiantly refuses to play second fiddle. Additionally, the guest cast in display is quite strong as well. James Bolam’s menacing Flint and Susan Jameson’s surprisingly dark tea lady Mrs Moynihan are particular highlights, especially as Flint and Evelyn square off against one another via insulting in the best of hero and villain traditions, though it’s quite poingnant how incredibly cruelly and violently Flint and Moynihan end up being dispatched once the real villain of the piece- misguided as it may be- rears its head.

‘The Spectre of Lanyon Moor’ is a novel one within the Sixth Doctor era simply because it so perfectly induces a nostalgic sentimentalism for both the Third and Fourth Doctors’ eras. Although the script is fairly straightforward and doesn’t take too many risks along the way, the strong performances and sound design help to elevate the script to something hauntingly beautiful, and the glorious inclusion of the Brigadier makes it only that much better.

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