Posted in Audio by - April 03, 2023

Released 12 April – 19 June 2022


Released in ten parts and representing the first Doctor Who audio series produced by BBC Studios, Redacted follows a group of podcasters looking into strange phenomena, conspiracies, and the frequent reportings of a strange blue box at the centre of them all as the world and all of history seem to be changing without notice.

‘SOS’ by Juno Dawson introduces listeners to Charlie Craggs as Cleo Proctor, Lois Chimimba as Abby McPhail, and Holly Quin-Ankrah as Shawna Thompson along with The Blue Fox Files podcast this trio leads that delves into the mysteries surrounding and left behind following the Doctor’s work. Interestingly, the Doctor is not synonymous with the TARDIS in their eyes, meaning that there should be an organic layer of exploration as the characters are inexorably drawn deeper into the truths behind the conspiracies about which they are asking. To that effect, Cleo’s interview with Penny Carter who has agreed to discuss her experiences with Adipose Industries in ‘Partners in Crime’ works quite well to establish the scene, Cleo treading a fine line between keeping an open mind and dismissing more outlandish claims while Penny asks to keep her identity a secret while discussing her experiences and strangely suggesting that she can no longer remember anything about the Doctor himself. As events progress outside of the interview, the transgender Cleo reveals that her father left or disappeared long ago and that her transphobic mother threw her out of her home when Cleo began her transition, only now starting to ask for Cleo to join her for a family meal through her brother. There’s clearly plenty of family drama to be delved into with Cleo here, and the reports of missing people- Graham O’Brien and Ryan Sinclair included- present an immediate sense of intrigue to this fresh and energetic world that has already been built up quite well while including plenty of nods of Doctor Who even before Rani Chandra calls Cleo and ominously states that the Doctor is killing them all.

In ‘Hysteria’ by Juno Dawson, The Blue Box Files focuses on mass hysteria, specifically referencing people remembering Royal Hope Hospital disappearing and being transported to the moon in ‘Smith and Jones’ despite no official reports stating this. Abby then meets with Dr Oliver Morgenstern from that episode who is now beginning to walk back his previous claims and states that his memory is becoming hazy. After hearing him mention his friend Martha who became obsessed with the Doctor, Abby begins to worry about Cleo who is meeting with Rani to discuss just that. Interestingly, Rani insists that Cleo is able to help despite her doubts, and her insistence that Cleo get a tattoo stating ‘The Doctor in the TARDIS’ before a malevolent robotic voice cuts in suggests that memory will become a recurring focal point throughout Redacted. These brief cameos from primary and secondary characters from Doctor Who continue to dynamically flesh out this world while keeping it entrenched in established events as the leading trio circles around the truth, and delving further into Cleo’s familial situation as her brother, Jordan, joins her on her interview continues to create a more personal layer to the overall mystery that continues to expand with tremendous pace.

After the robot attacks Rani at her hideout and after searches for the Doctor and TARDIS on Google reveal nothing, Cleo’s friends struggle to believe her story to begin ‘Lost’ by Juno Dawson. Understandably, Jordan is concerned that Cleo might get hurt after seeing that the subjects of her podcast might have merit, and Cleo is beginning to wonder if her father’s disappearance was alien in nature. With Sonya and Nadia Khan as well as Haresh and Gita Chandra joining the list of the missing, Cleo begins to wonder if the TARDIS might be linking everything together somehow; with her workplace The Queen Victoria Theatre inexplicably now named The Lost Queen Theatre with nobody knowing anything about a Queen Victoria, it’s clear that much more than just recent memories are being affected. Amidst all of this as highlighted by Cleo’s assured declaration that Jordan has also disappeared, Shawna’s very normal conversation about girlfriends with her very accepting grandmother is a refreshing break that again reinforces the very human element at the core of this series. With no pre-established characters from Doctor Who in this episode, ‘Lost’ proves that Redacted is more than capable of standing on its own and brilliantly advances the scale and scope of its core mystery.

In ‘Angels’ by Catherine Brinkworth, Juno Dawson, and Ella Watts, Abby tells her friends the supposed story of the Weeping Angels while planning their podcast’s next episode and states that she is going to meet Larry Nightingale from ‘Blink.’ After Cleo goes to her missing brother’s and finds an active crime scene regarding a woman gone missing, Cleo receives a call from Jordan saying that he is cold and alone in some unknown place. Abby, arriving in the graveyard where she agreed to meet Larry, instead finds an old metal box with her name on it, and after her friends who fear for her safety arrive there as well, they find an old tape recorder inside featuring Larry telling of how the memories of his missing wife returned to him after he confronted the Angels and was sent back to the 1920s. However, he is sure that the Angels themselves are not responsible for the lost memories of the population since they seemed scared of whatever the truth behind them is, and he fears that the Doctor has somehow turned against humanity. This is a script laden with emotions, and the expert interweaving of familiar events and characters with the wholly engaging plot in the present as witnessed by this energetic trio is proving to be a vibrant formula that Redacted continues to use to tremendous effect.

Kidnapped and locked in a cell, the three leads wonder if this is how so many people have gone missing to open ‘Interrogation’ by Sasha Sienna. While Abby wonders if this is the result of them asking too many questions, Shawna when separated and interrogated is shown newspapers that now make no mention whatsoever of any missing people. Shawna astutely realizes that this man is asking questions on behalf of someone else, and while Abby garners a little bit more information such as his name being Miller, Cleo at first begins to hope that she might find out more about her father before quickly pivoting and wondering if it would be better if she also disappeared. Miller states that everyone whom these three have interviewed for their podcast has gone missing quickly thereafter, and even recorded parts of the podcast are filled with a strange sound of interference in place of words. Cleo is relieved to find that Miller knows something of the Doctor when nobody else seems to, but that same interference soon centres around him as he suddenly disappears. It’s here that Kate Stewart of UNIT barges in to find out what has happened since, according to her, no man was with Cleo and nobody remembers anyone named Miller. Threatened with a gun, it’s here that Cleo realizes that UNIT has no information and doesn’t even know what questions to ask, providing her the perfect opportunity to assert control now that she and listeners alike know just how truly serious these apparent redactions are. Hardly any new information is revealed here, but Charlie Craggs continues to excel in an extremely talented cast, and Jemma Redgrave’s appearance only further cements the severity of the situation.

With Cleo acutely aware that she is the only person remembering any of these redactions that now also include Kate Stewart, ‘Recruits’ by Ken Cheng and Ella Watts opens with Osgood showing the trio an old UNIT recruitment video explaining the organization’s purpose. Osgood then shows them objects from the Black Archive that she has no record of, also stating that ninety-seven of the 862 listed objects have gone missing. While Abby inquires about joining UNIT after finding that Osgood is a fan of the podcast, Cleo and Shawna look through the corrupted database in a sequence filled with the redacted interference noise that continues even as Cleo searches for any information about her father and the Doctor. Following a strangely relaxed scene in which the characters explore the effects of a sonic mascara device, Cleo finds a device that allows her to briefly communicate with the Doctor before the connection quickly breaks down, learning that she must find someone named Madame Vastra. This latest brief tease of Jodie Whittaker’s larger involvement works exceedingly well, and the ensuing scene in which Cleo finds a box labeled with her father’s name and filled with his personal items among so many boxes of the missing confirms to her that he is dead and again prompts her to accuse UNIT of lying to them. Surprisingly, Abby decides to stay with UNIT when Cleo and Shawna decide to leave the organization behind, creating another emotional inflection point for a series that has already incorporated so many so well.

In ‘Requiem’ by Àjoké Ibironke, Juno Dawson, and Ella Watts, Cleo and Shawna agree to attend a virtual meeting for a group called Requiem hosted by an anonymous individual who allows people to talk about the people who have gone missing that everyone seems to be forgetting. Another redaction occurs during this meeting with Cleo the only one to remember that anyone else was once there as she sees a hazy shape on screen; soon enough only Cleo, Shawna, and the host remain, again with only Cleo remembering that there were any other people involved initially and even the list of names she had written down to help remember also disappearing. Throughout these discussions, Shawna reveals how much Abby choosing UNIT over her hurts, and through Abby with Osgood and UNIT it is revealed that a studied disturbance is actually screaming and that the shape of a person can be seen where the monitors say there is nothing, neatly segueing into the Doctor breaking into the conversation and warning Cleo not to touch the ghosts after Cleo accuses the host of causing the disappearances. Without advancing the plot too much, ‘Requiem’ begins to provide some solid information after so many red herrings, and the frightening effects of the disappearances and the resulting lost memories are wholly effective and certainly create another layer of intrigue for the remaining three episodes to explore whether these ghosts be related to an established Doctor Who threat or something completely unique.

Events continue to escalate in ‘Ghosts’ by Doris V Sutherland, Juno Dawson, and Ella Watts, as Cleo and Shawna return to the Powell Estate to check on Cleo’s mother after receiving a phone call from her with the redaction noise in the background. More ghost-like figures are appearing around them while Cleo seems to be receiving calls from the past, and after calling the police to ask for protection only to see the officers disappear before them, Cleo finds a message from her mother telling her that she is right behind her. Reaching out to hug her mother as the ghost figure in that place wants, Cleo’s actions speak volumes about this trans woman looking for acceptance from a mother who has dismissed and neglected her for so long, again adding a very human and emotional moment to the overarching story and its threat that continues to amplify in scale. Of course, the appearance of the Requiem host who reveals herself to be Madame Vastra and who- despite the reservations of Cleo and Shawna- helps the two escape from the ghosts in harrowing fashion injects another element of familiarity and adventure into this tale that is quickly reaching its conclusion with so much yet undiscovered and unresolved.

Pursued by ghosts, Cleo leads Shawna and Madame Vastra to her brother’s flat where the Silurian reveals that the ghosts are people trapped between two planes of existence to open ‘Rescue’ by David K Barnes and Juno Dawson. UNIT arrives with Abby and Captain Chopra just in time to save these women, and Vastra takes them into a sewer with the promise of safety and information coming from an oracle who is a master of time and space. This oracle is not the Doctor as might be expected after so long, however, and after lamenting the short lifespans of humans, Vastra shows them a millennia-old alien being in a jar who comes from the realm the humans have been transported to that cannot support them. This being witnessed a great error the Doctor made, and every world the Doctor has visited is becoming redacted like Earth. While the proclamation that Cleo, Shawna, and the reunited Abby must find and destroy the Doctor to save the universe is a momentous enough development, the redaction of Cleo herself is a brilliant and surprising cliffhanger that creates plenty of intrigue heading into the finale. While there is still a tremendous amount of information to hopefully be revealed and explored in that final episode, ‘Rescue’ manages to maintain a fair pace while sacrificing the typical energy of this series to delve into the proper plot through Vastra whom Doon Mackichnan capably plays.

As the alien being explains to Cleo that she is not dead with so many ghosts around her, the Doctor finally makes a true appearance as ‘Salvation’ by Juno Dawson begins. Naturally, Cleo blames the Doctor for everything that has happened, but the Doctor is able to reassure her and explains that she inadvertently brought a virus back from an unexplored realm that is threatening to redact and thus rewrite reality. Even the Doctor is unsure why Cleo has not been affected like everyone else, but in going through Cleo’s memories she discovers that Rose Tyler was her babysitter when younger and that she has constructed a psychic barrier around the memories of her showing her father a red alien egg that was hatching. Her father perished trying to protect her during this sequence, and the Doctor arrived soon after to save Cleo, the Doctor being blocked from the grief-stricken Cleo’s memories along with her father’s sacrifice. Using a delta wave augmenter to interface with the ghosts and offer a sort of protective capacity against the virus, the Doctor instructs Cleo to make the ghosts remember everything that they have forgotten. However, when Cleo finds her mother who apologizes for everything and then Shawna and Abby, Cleo realizes that this realm is a mental one rather than a physical one, urging them all to listen to the sounds of the playing podcast. With the Doctor’s help, Cleo is able to broadcast a special version of the podcast to wake up everyone from a psychic coma, but the Doctor declines Cleo’s request to join her aboard the TARDIS since the Doctor has to find those who looked to use the chaos of the redactions to their own advantage. Fittingly, the group continues to produce episodes of The Blue Box Files while alluding to the Doctor’s presence and help, and though the overall resolution is quite easy and quick, ‘Salvation’ marks a strong audio performance from Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor becomes directly entwined in events. Redacted as a whole is unquestionably filled with a few too many red herrings that delay the proper plot from fully being revealed and explored until far later in the episode run than expected, but its vibrant energy and obvious affection for Doctor Who make for a fast-paced and engrossing listen that successfully brings the oft-ignored LGBTQ community into a starring role.

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