Bessie Come Home

Posted in Audio by - March 24, 2022
Bessie Come Home

Released August 2021


In an audio range dedicated to exploring the lives of companions following their departure from the Doctor’s company, Bessie is hardly the first name that springs to mind on the list of potential lead characters. In ‘Bessie Come Home,’ however, Paul Magrs brings the Edwardian roadster to the forefront as she recounts her long and storied history to her new owner, Mr Foreman.

Giving Bessie a voice is a bold decision, though one that certainly makes sense within the context of the effects of the Doctor’s tinkering and the TARDIS’s telepathic circuits. To that effect, Stephanie Cole is an inspired choice to vocally explore the inner thoughts of this character who was never given a chance to speak on screen, and she deftly taps into a wide range of emotions that perfectly delves into the roadster’s story before and during her time with UNIT and how she dreams of experiencing those glorious days with her friends once more.

Unfortunately, the story simply can’t meet the promise of its premise, in major part because Bessie was so rarely a crucial element to any of the Doctor’s actions which means that many of her recollections about the Doctor’s actions are from indirect experiences. The instances where she was more explicitly involved such as with the giant robot are vocally revisited on multiple occasions, giving the feeling that even the story realizes it doesn’t quite have enough material upon which to expand. Still, Bessie’s love of and devotion to the Doctor is brilliant, and it does retroactively manage to give an even greater sense of family to the Third Doctor era in particular as she likewise waxes lyrical about the other members of UNIT she worked aside. Interestingly, Bessie is not above fits of jealousy and feelings of superiority, and her disdain for the Whomobile in particular fittingly signals that she realized early on that her time with the Doctor might be coming to a close.

Of course, given that Bessie is such an incredibly advanced vehicle, it does raise the questions of just how and why UNIT would ever allow the roadster to fall out of its possession. Although this does eventually allow for Bessie to come into the possession of the newest owner of the Foreman junkyard business, it seems like an illogical and reckless oversight that rivals the Time Lords’ own oversight of leaving her in the Death Zone following the events of ‘The Five Doctors,’ a fact that she is again keen to revisit on multiple occurrences. Bessie and Foreman do form a decent chemistry as she tries her best to gain his confidence and to get him to take her to UNIT once more, but Foreman ultimately adds little to the plot beyond being someone there to listen, and the allure of money to part ways with the roadster is hardly the most engaging or interesting personal conflict to bring to focus. Indeed, Mr Harmer who seems sure to focus more directly in later stories in this series as someone working to take revenge on the Doctor through his previous companions is a wholly bland presence who never really manages to seem menacing or competent given the free reign Bessie and Foreman are constantly given.

Bessie’s existence prior to being with the Doctor ultimately adds little to the plot, and not more thoroughly exploring Bessie’s feelings when she was alone for so very long beyond her brief attempts to reconnect with her old friends in their new lives is a missed opportunity to even better define just what consciousness as a vehicle that was once so very important means. ‘Bessie Come Home’ has a few emotional moments and a strong central performance at its core, but it’s built upon a flawed premise and has neither enough material nor a remotely interesting antagonist to truly give this any sense of gravitas or to elevate it beyond a superfluous novelty.

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