Broken Hearts

Posted in Audio by - December 02, 2023
Broken Hearts

Released November 2023


As Valarie continues to struggle with the immense personal toll of the events of ‘Curiosity Shop’ and the many physical sacrifices she was forced to make in the name of the Doctor, the Doctor comes to realize that not all words and reassurances can be taken at face value and that not all promises can be kept in this one-off coda to All of Time and Space, ‘Broken Hearts’ by Lisa McMullin.

The cybernetic Valarie has already become one of the more fascinating companions Big Finish has ever created, and her relationship with the Doctor is fractured almost beyond the point of being reparable given her previous treatment and suffering. Despite his best intentions, the Eleventh Doctor is unfortunately not great with emotional understanding and is thus no stranger to personal conflict, and Jacob Dudman and Safiyya Ingar brilliantly portray this fraught and tenuous relationship that becomes all the more strained when a statue of the Eighth Doctor on this world seemingly threatens everything Valarie assumed to be true about the man she once considered such a great friend. Indeed, Ingar imbues an open hostility into her performance at times that wholly conveys the immense hurt Valarie is still feeling, and while there is still an unstated respect for the Doctor that even recent events cannot erase, the trepidation with which the Doctor begins to act around her as his usual quips fail to improve the situation at all is written and performed well while allowing Dudman the opportunity to portray a side of his iteration of the Eleventh Doctor that has rarely been seen.

Valarie’s intense emotions are made all the more palpable by this particular planet’s emotive weather system that reacts to match the feelings of those within it. This weather also proves vital to the mystery of just why this world is empty while a message proclaiming that the Doctor and their companion will arrive and save them all plays, and the guilt of so many lives lost that were depending on his help again brings out another fascinating element for Dudman to explore. Through a clever and tongue-in-cheek reference to the frequent bouts of amnesia the Eighth Doctor suffered to explain away his own hazy memories of this world, the Doctor as a result becomes fixated on understanding what happened here and helping in any way he can within the physical manifestation of such turbulent emotions. However, some of the emotions come from a most unexpected source as a pair of search and rescue robots that continue to gain sentience as their endless search for signs of life on this planet continue. This is a surprisingly effective and poignant plotline that continues to develop and resonate as the passage of time continues to degrade functionality and the prospect of a permanent shutdown and continuing on alone becomes a very real threat. Dudman and Ingar also provide the voices for these two robotic beings, and the two storylines converge perfectly with the Doctor very much integral to both as he attempts to rectify the harm he has caused directly and indirectly to so many.

Having been recorded after the upcoming fifth volume of The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles, ‘Broken Hearts’ assumedly has the purpose of beginning repairs on the friendship between the Doctor and Valarie so that their adventures can continue on more traditional footing in Dudman’s remaining stories in the titular role alongside Ingar. It’s not quite a two-hander in the traditional sense given the dual roles of each, but it’s profoundly impactful and fully delves into a range of emotions that Doctor Who rarely features quite so prominently, a triumph for this range and hopefully a sign of tremendous things to come for this incredibly engaging duo.

This post was written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.