The Locked Room

Posted in Audio by - April 28, 2018
The Locked Room

Released June 2015

Steven Taylor long ago left the company of the Doctor to become the king of an alien world, but it’s now many years since he gave up his throne and chose to live in isolation in the mountains far out of the sight and minds of his people. As The First Doctor Volume One draws to a close with Simon Guerrier’s ‘The Locked Room,’ however, he soon finds alongside his granddaughter Sida that he can never truly escape his past.

‘The Locked Room’ is set some time after ‘The Following Fathers’ with Sida firmly entrenched in the role of President for some time now and her days filled with public appearances and important meetings. Steven, meanwhile, has taken to building a radio telescope and a lead-lined room in which he can receive the transmissions, a room that is locked at night and that cannot be opened until morning in order to ensure privacy and signal integrity. With Alice Haig’s Sida the narrator for the story after Steven traps her in the room overnight simply to prove a point, she provides a fascinating presence through which the exploration of the similarities and differences between the moralities of Steven and the Doctor- here present as a light hologram- started in the previous story can be continued and further developed. It’s clear that Steven has influenced her to some extent given their close relationship, but Sida as a character who started simply as someone for Steven to talk to has become a dynamic and capable character in her own right, and the fact that her very presence forces Steven to internally confront his own strained relationship with and the passing of his daughter is expertly layered into the narrative with nuance and grace.

While it’s unlikely that this is the final entry of The Companion Chronicles to feature Peter Purves, ‘The Locked Room’ offers a fitting closure to Steven Taylor’s run of stories, and in this case draws particular inspiration from Guerrier’s own ‘The First Wave’ that firmly proved just how incredibly dangerous the energy-based Vardans who can travel at the speed of thought can be in the proper circumstances. These are beings that can get inside an individual’s head and destroy the brain before even a thought of panic can be formed, and the brief but impactful audio companion Oliver gave his life to stop an invasion and to save his friends’ life in the most heroic of fashions. Yet here the terrifying prospect that a Vardan survived and may have been manipulating all of Steven’s actions here in order to reach out to the Doctor and bring him back is brought up, causing a tremendous crisis of conscience given how events have unfolded on this planet and on a personal level that Peter Purves plays incredibly well as the Vardan quickly begins to regain strength and the timer to the unlocking of this lead room temporarily containing it nears zero. Indeed, the Vardan escaping its cell and inflicting damage is staggering in its execution, and the means by which Sida manages to save everyone is both clever and elegant, giving an immense payoff to the intriguing setup work of ‘The Founding Fathers.’

Once more, Peter Purves excels both as this older and more dangerous Steven and as the Doctor, and he truly manages to imbue a full-cast sense to this very intimate storytelling format that so brilliantly explores the inner workings of its lead characters. With the Doctor surprisingly vulnerable as the notion of his impending death is broached and with Steven on the verge of taking more severe action than ever before because of the possible consequences of not doing so, ‘The Locked Room’ makes the most of its confined setting to develop those involved and to bring together the end of the Hartnell televised era with the hard-hitting impact and consequences of the era’s continuing audio adventures.

  • Release Date: 6/2015
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