London, 1965

Posted in Audio by - March 26, 2022
London, 1965

Released January 2022


Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright have finally returned home after their many adventures with the Doctor to set the stage for Paul Magrs’s ‘London, 1965.’ The world has moved on without them in their absence, however, and the two find the prospect of settling back into everyday society much more challenging than they expected. Barabara turns to the kindly Mrs Leamann who offers her shelter and an exploration of her inner self, and Ian discovers an eager audience for fictionalized writings about his otherworldly adventures as both unwittingly find themselves drawn into a dangerous trap.

Jamie Glover has played Ian Chesterton multiple times for Big Finish since first appearing as William Russell in An Adventure in Time and Space, and while it is a shame that Russell himself does not reprise the role of Ian for this tale, Glover does an admirable job tapping into the character’s incredible range of emotions as Ian struggles to find his way in the tedium of everyday life while Barbara seems to grow more distant with each passing day. Naturally, Ian looks to become a supply teacher to make ends meet, and it’s just as fitting that Barbara should look to undertake museum work given her passion for history. Unfortunately, aside from Ian’s landlady casually mentioning that he owes some nineteen months of rent on multiple occasions, ‘London, 1965’ never delves into society’s thoughts about these two teachers suddenly reappearing after being missing for so long. It does seem likely that Ian would have encountered some sort of questioning or even resistance after putting his name on the supply teacher register, but it’s more or less business as usual as both look to regain a semblance of normal life.

As effortlessly as Glover slides into the role of Ian and capably voices the forthright Barbara, however, ‘London, 1965’ is filled with decisions from both Ian and Barbara that simply are not supported by anything they have ever shown on screen or in spin-off media since their departures. It’s completely understandable that Ian in an effort to make ends meet would look to supplement his income, and while it’s natural to expect that he would want to speak of his harrowing and heroic adventures in some fashion to anyone who will listen, there is no reason to expect that he would ever so publicly go behind the Doctor’s back by revealing literally everything he has seen. The story does try to make the argument that the Doctor is no longer here as a means of defending Ian’s decision to himself, but Barbara quite astutely cuts through that logic and never supports Ian’s desire to take the written and televised science fiction market by storm even as his well-connected friend pushes him to continue onward, going so far as to call it an utter betrayal. And while there certainly are suggestions of mesmeric trances to explain away Barbara’s own distancing from Ian as she unwittingly reveals in detail her own experiences to Mrs Leamann, Barbara so willingly be taken in by an individual and not studying her potential motives from every angle while instead cutting off ties with her best friend is likewise very out of character, especially as it is shown she still has the ability to act of her own accord when Ian invites her to his commissioned pilot’s television studio.

‘London, 1965’ doesn’t have to be a happily ever after story to succeed, but the threat that Harmer and Leamann pose still doesn’t manage to really amount to anything meaningful despite being much more integral to and involved with the plot than in the previous Beyond the Doctor tale. It’s all too clear at this point that these two are going to be crucial to a more overarching plot against the Doctor in this series, and while their attempts to glean knowledge about the Doctor and his TARDIS are certainly unique, the more indirect approach to achieving their means unfortunately relies on some questionable characterization and a most surprising callback to the Animus that at the very least manages to reveal just how overtly the Doctor’s travels can influence those who are with him and how powerful their faith in him can be. There’s something innately engaging about ‘London, 1965’ given how immensely charismatic Ian and Barbara as well as Jamie Glover are, but it does seem like a missed opportunity to more faithfully delve into these beloved characters in a world that would assuredly have so many questions for them following their prolonged time missing.

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