The Queen of Time

Posted in Audio by - August 06, 2017
The Queen of Time

Released October 2013

Brian Hayles is best remembered as the creator of the Ice Warriors who fleshed out the gallery of rogues the Second Doctor would confront on his journeys through time and space, but he also created the Celestial Toymaker as the end of the First Doctor era neared. With Big Finish opting to remain with aborted Hayles storylines for the second release in the fourth series of The Lost Stories as it returns to the Second Doctor era, a sequel of sorts to ‘The Celestial Toymaker’ is offered up in ‘The Queen of Time.’ As the Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe confront the godlike Hecuba in her realm of clocks and traps, they soon find that their own time is running out.

‘The Queen of Time’ is quite unique in both its concept and execution, and it fits perfectly alongside the likes of ‘The Mind Robber’ by imbuing a sense of experimentalism to a time period more often than not filled with base under siege tales. This particular TARDIS trio is always brimming with enthusiasm and a sense of playfulness no matter the danger that befalls its members, and having them fall victim to the unpredictable sister of the Celestial Toymaker is a perfect backdrop upon which to test each character’s loyalty, determination, and intelligence. With the odds stacked against them and the notion of time quite literally proving vital to the plot and the unraveling of Hecuba’s schemes and secrets, the very fabric of Doctor Who and of Hecuba’s being dovetail perfectly to create a wholly distinctive environment and narrative that flows effortlessly from beginning to end.

Naturally, comparisons to this story’s predecessor are inevitable, and there certainly are broad elements in the structure of the plot that recur almost step for step. Hecuba forcing the Doctor to partake in a series of puzzles as his companions are confronted with an increasingly dangerous series of games is undeniably a reminiscent sequence that forms the bulk of the story, and the resolution in which the immortal being is tricked and trapped within her domain likewise hits similar beats. However, the fantastic imagery of deadly clocks, rapid aging and the flow of time, and even a very specific meal utilize the possibilities that the audio medium offers to its fullest and creates a remarkably fulfilling experience that just wouldn’t have been possible had the story been produced at its intended time.

Of course, the small cast is the ultimate determining key factor in the success of ‘The Queen of Time,’ and this is quite possibly Frazer Hines’s finest performance as Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor yet, imbuing both a manic energy and grave earnestness to the character as needed to wonderful effect. Hines and Wendy Padbury have always had an innate chemistry, and that shines through impeccably as both are able to recapture their younger tones remarkably well as Jamie and Zoe are thrust into a continuing series of dangerous tests. The two are also tasked with narration duties, and both are able to distinguish between those tasks remarkably well to eliminate any potential confusion. Caroline Faber rounds out the production as Hecuba, and her gloriously exaggerated stylings provide the requisite menace and otherworldliness needed for the role to believably come to life, creating a memorable adversary who would be most welcome to make another appearance in the future.

Overall, ‘The Queen of Time’ may not be anywhere near the most innovative of Doctor Who titles due to its plotting similarities with ‘The Celestial Toymaker,’ but it confidently delivers a profoundly atmospheric and imagery-laden tale that revels in breaking from the Second Doctor era norms and conventions. Undoubtedly helped by being realized as an audio adventure and buoyed further by the usual strong direction and sound design of Big Finish, ‘The Queen of Time’ is another successful foray into what may have been as the final series of The Lost Stories continues.

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