The Ghost of Margaret

Posted in Audio by - June 26, 2023
The Ghost of Margaret

Released June 2023


With the dangerous reality of traveling with the Doctor proving to be more harrowing than she expected despite the obvious thrills and opportunities it presents, Margaret has decided to leave the TARDIS and to return home. Begrudgingly accepting the departure of his companion, the Doctor finds his ensuing departure from Ravencliff delayed after an apparition of Margaret runs in front of a vehicle containing a most unexpected figure from the past in the concluding story of Angels and Demons, Tim Foley’s ‘The Ghost of Margaret.’

Fittingly, Margaret is very much the focus throughout these events, and Nerys Hughes deftly leads the narrative as Margaret is somehow trapped in a halfway place that is out of sync with reality. This is a land melded by Margaret’s own mind and thoughts, one that mirrors the conflicting feelings of fear and doubt that she has harboured for so long. Of course, with the weight of previous mistakes and current fears threatening to wash over her with a spiteful yet eerily sweet Alice and the frightening Halfway Men taunting and threatening her along the way, Margaret’s resolve and confidence are tested at every step, and Hughes wonderfully brings this internal conflict to vivid life. Aided by the surprising reappearance of Captain Ray Hunter who featured in ‘The Friendly Invasion’ and who has come overseas at the request of Margaret through a letter she cannot remember sending, this battle for survival becomes all the more emotional and introspective as weeks pass by with no company except for themselves. Indeed, although there isn’t quite enough justification for Ray coming from America to visit a woman he has no memory of due to the consciousness that was inside of him during their joint time in Westbourne, the two quickly and believably form an incredible bond that becomes all the deeper and more resonant as the two forge on together through the unknown with no certainty of ever emerging. Ray is unashamedly bold and caring, and Kenneth Jay wonderfully imbues an incredible sense of humanity and empathy to this man who comes to mean so much to Margaret at this crucial and trying time in which she must come to terms with herself and reality itself. At the very least Foley does offer up the fact that Ray’s wife recently passed away and so Margaret’s letter arrived just at the right time to pique his interest, but there nonetheless remains a missed opportunity for the two to build off a previous shared experience and to further intermingle this storyline with Margaret’s decision to leave the Doctor and Leela with whom she has also formed such deep bonds. That nothing can ultimately come of their time together with only Margaret remembering these events with Ray is never fully reconciled with the plot and somewhat frustratingly makes Margaret’s path forward all the more heartbreaking.

The Doctor rarely takes a companion’s departure well, but Margaret’s decision to leave seems to hit the Fourth Doctor particularly hard. Indeed, he’s almost despondent as he tries to accept her choice, wondering if perhaps he let her down in some way or failed to be the positive influence he so wanted to be. It’s a truly interesting dynamic for Tom Baker to play, and he expertly succeeds with adding further nuance to his well-defined character before ultimately proving how dedicated his Time Lord is to his friend by communicating with the TARDIS and finding a rather unique means of rectifying the dangerous temporal anomaly before them. Foley does intersperse a few brief moments of comedy to accentuate the full characterization of the beloved Fourth Doctor, but ‘The Ghost of Margaret’ is very much a more introspective and dramatic piece that brings its characters and their thoughts to the fore, highlighted brilliantly by a more deliberate coda that allows the Doctor, Leela, and Margaret to reflect on where they have been and how much they mean to each other. It’s hardly the companion departure tale with the biggest overall stakes, but it resonates on nearly every level and provides a sensational final outing for Margaret and Nerys Hughes who have made such an indelible impact in such a brief time.

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