Posted in Audio by - January 25, 2019

Released January 2007

At a time before Tom Baker had joined Big Finish and the only substantial audio output of Doctor Who featured the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Doctors, The Companion Chronicles range opened up innumerable possibilities by allowing further exploration into the characters who originally brought the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Doctor eras to life. Featuring a blend of narration and acting with a much more limited cast, the stories often featured a more compellingly intimate characterisation by delving into psyches and emotions much more than the characters’ original televised adventures allowed. The first release in the range, Marc Platt’s ‘Frostfire,’ highlights Vicki as she recounts a deadly visit with the Doctor and Steven to 1814 London’s Frost Fair.

Platt has always excelled with an ability to create a living environment simply through precise choice of words, and the Frost Fair here is no different as the numbing cold becomes almost palpable and Vicki’s wonder at seeing the strange figures and objects before her contagious. Of course, the story turns into much more than the simple spectacle of these three friends standing on the frozen Thames and enjoying warm treats, and the surprising introduction of Jane Austen allows for a closer look at this society while also highlighting just how gentle and personable the First Doctor can be as he praises her novels and even proves to be quite the formal dancer once she learns that this group has nowhere to stay. Fittingly, she also points out that Steven could likely win the heart of any woman he chooses, and Vicki demurely agrees despite thinking of him as nothing more than a brother, a facet that is highlighted quite wonderfully when Steven proves to be rather less adept at dancing and acts as if Vicki is at fault for this.

Actually, it’s the framing device as a more seasoned Vicki tells this account to the being who ends up being the antagonist of her experience that stands out most. This is a woman who still feels somewhat detached from the primitive Carthage around her despite her endless love and adoration of Troilus. Even though the Trojans judged her insane and cursed because of the stories about the Doctor she insisted on telling and wanted to leave her stranded in the sea, the fact that a Cinder concealed itself in her eye provides a constant reminder of the life she once led and gives an even more immense sense of danger to the tale featuring frostfire that continues to suck the heat out of everything and seems able to freeze even time itself. It’s no small task for Platt and Maureen O’Brien’s delivery to sell the notion of a giant egg and a vast dragon cloaked in green flames coming to life, but the intense emotions and visuals ensure that the spectacle of this affair is fully realized, and the perpetual loop of this being that Vicki helps to sustain is a stirring and satisfying revelation that leaves a lasting impact.

The story of ‘Frostfire’ may not be the most technically complex, but the characterisation of all three lead characters ensures that it perfectly captures the feeling of a missing First Doctor adventure. With a confidently deliberate pacing that blends magnificent marvels with expert characterisation in two times for Vicki, this story starts this audio range off on an incredibly strong note and hints at the true potential this format holds. Maureen O’Brien wonderfully recaptures the spirit of her younger self while bringing the impetuous Vicki’s wide range of youthful emotions so vividly to life, and the brief but fascinating look at her life after leaving the Doctor is a suitably strong tease that hints at just what she has been through in the ensuing years and that only serves to bolster an already satisfying experience.

  • Release Date: 1/2007
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