The Ravencliff Witch

Posted in Audio by - March 20, 2022
The Ravencliff Witch

Released March 2022


Landing in the coastal English town of Ravencliff, the Doctor soon finds himself embroiled in the mystery of a spectral figure who has sporadically appeared as a prelude to regional disaster for centuries. With catastrophe looming as she appears once more and the newly built power station drawing suspicion, the Doctor and renowned sculptor Margaret Hopwood attempt to uncover the truth in David Llewellyn’s ‘The Ravencliff Witch.’

As an older character who has plenty of life experience to draw upon and who occasionally feels the effects of age, Margaret Hopwood is an intriguing element of this story that allows for a certain level of connection and empathy with the Doctor that many guest characters simply cannot achieve. She’s a woman who steadfastly stands in the way of the power plant’s expansion, and her determination and principles along with an appreciation of the arts and nuances of the world about her help to maintain a very human element to the affair as disappearances mount, political pressures grow, and the truths of the witch are revealed. There is clearly much more that Margaret can offer than one story can fully explore, but Nerys Hughes gives a strong and layered performance here and instantly develops a brilliant chemistry with Tom Baker that bodes well for her already-announced future appearances alongside Leela in next year’s run of The Fourth Doctor Adventures.

‘The Ravencliff Witch’ makes the most of this coastal setting to offer an immensely atmospheric tale that initially taps into the stylings of Philip Hinchliffe as its supernatural menace is introduced. However, as the story progresses, it increasingly incorporates a very human element to the threat that would typically be seen more with the Third Doctor. Richard Earl is a standout as Gordon Miles who becomes increasingly irrational as his plans to expand the power plant are repeatedly stalled, and his persistent obstruction of the Doctor as he puts his own goals before anyone else’s is a very relatable political and bureaucratic counterbalance to the science fiction element at the story’s core that becomes more prevalent as events unfold. Fortunately, even in this rare instance when the Doctor has never heard about the compound fueling this narrative that was found a mile out at sea, Llewellyn is able to avoid the pitfall of utilizing too much technobabble by eventually reframing the Doctor’s context in order to more fully and naturally explain the many strange occurrences recently and the heartbreaking truth and intent behind the witch’s appearances.

Once again, the generally strong pacing and sound design combine superbly to create a brisk and wholly engrossing experience, and Tom Baker takes full advantage of the extra time in the spotlight without a true companion at his side to showcase his seemingly limitless energy and charisma as the Doctor’s curiosity, determination, and affability are on full display. The plot itself doesn’t necessarily take too many risks and is far more traditional that the preceding serial in this set, but each of its supporting characters are utilized expertly with each individual’s intentions, priorities, and sense of morality clearly explained. With a strong central mystery and a nice balance of scares and action interspersed with more intimate moments, ‘The Ravencliff Witch’ is another strong outing for The Fourth Doctor Adventures that deftly overcomes the lack of a companion and keeps the bar high for the second half of this series due out later this year.

This post was written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.