Released June 2000
Big Finish’s ninth main range offering, ‘The Spectre of Lanyon Moor,’ teams up Colin Baker’s Doctor and Maggie Stable’s Evelyn Smythe, 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; 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.
The script itself is 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 for once the very powerful extraterrestrial force is looking to get off of Earth. The moor provides a suitably haunting backdrop, but Big Finish does a very good job in bringing all of the differing settings to life, ranging from a tent to grand library and art gallery.
Colin Baker continues to soften his brash Doctor while still dominating every scene he is in, and he has already formed an easygoing respect and friendship for 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. However, Flint and Moynihan end up being dispatched so incredibly cruelly and violently as the real villain of the piece- misguided as it may be- rears its head that it’s almost poignant and sad.
This story would have been a novel concept for the Sixth Doctor, but it perfectly induces sentiment for both the Third and Fourth Doctors’ eras. Although the script is exceedingly straightforward and doesn’t take too many risks, the strong performances and sound designs help to elevate the script, and the inclusion of the Brigadier makes it only that much better.