In Review Big Finish: Doctor Who – The Early Adventures – An Ordinary Life

1950s London: newcomers arrive daily on British shores seeking a fresh start, new opportunities, or simply the chance of a different life. However, some are from much further afield than India or Jamaica...

Synopsis: 1950s London: newcomers arrive daily on British shores seeking a fresh start, new opportunities, or simply the chance of a different life. However, some are from much further afield than India or Jamaica…

After an emergency landing, the TARDIS crew must make the best of it, and look to their new neighbours for help. But the Newman family has more than the prejudices of the time to contend with. A sinister force grows in strength amid the pubs, docks and backstreets of London…

And without the Doctor, marooned in a time and place as alien as anything they’ve ever encountered, Steven and Sara may well face their greatest challenge yet. To live an ordinary life.

Review: Written by Matt Fitton and directed by Ken Bentley ‘An Ordinary Life’ is the ultimate what if story for the Doctors companions from the classic era and its fun too.

The story begins when Steven, Sarah Kingdom and the Doctor crash land in London of the 1950s while running away from the Daleks, but the Doctor has been seriously hurt.

Seeing them struggle on the streets Joseph Roberts and his family come to their aid and shelter them without any questions about where they have come from or anything like that.

Joseph and his family are recent immigrants who have come over to help rebuild the UK economy in the post war years, but throughout the story they face all manner of racial abuse, which we witness through the eyes and ears of Steven and Sara who both stick by their new found friends, but something far more sinister is brewing.

As a listener I really enjoyed how the relationships developed with Joseph’s family, Steven and Sara. By the close of the second episode, which is when the screws in this story begin to really, really turn I was totally won over by Joe and his family and wanted things to go well for them.

The Doctor is largely absent from this story. In fact after their first night in London he recovers enough to take off in his tardis and effectively maroon his two charges, which leads to some interesting what if conversation between Steven and Sara about staying in one place and helping build as apposed to traveling from place to place and never getting to see how stuff unfolds once they leave.

Steven finds work on the Docks with Josephs son in law Michael who seems devoid of any spark or personality, which is the first big clue we get in this story with regards to watch is happening. A  bigger clue comes when Joseph’s Landlord Mr Figgis turns up and lets them off the rent for a week and doesn’t seem to be the same opinionated institutionalized racist than he was earlier.

As things evolve it turns out that an alien race has been infiltrating London’s backstreets by abducting people and creating duplicates of them. The reveal is slow and subtle and quite compelling to listen to and made more so by the fact that you really find yourselves invested in Joseph and his family’s struggle to fit in with a country and culture that seems to be working against them. I loved Joseph’s positive can do attitude and sense of community.

This is a story that would never work on the new series due to the fact that the characters are not running around every five minutes. It also would not work because the new series companions are not always traveling with the Doctor and all seem to be from 21st Century earth whereas the classic show had companions from the past, present and future. So for me this story illustrates some of the great things that the modern show has been robbed of.

We have great performances from Peter Purvis and Jean Marsh, but for me it is Ram John Holder who shines brightest as Joseph, who is a truly warm and caring character that it would be impossible not to like. Mention should also go to Stephen Critchlow who plays the mean spirited and bigoted Billy Flint who picks on Steven for hanging siding with Joseph and his family throughout the story.

In conclusion this is not only a great ‘Doctor Who’ story, but is also a great exploration of both the good and bad aspects of humanity, which highlights the evils of racism. It is a very human story.



Doctor Who - The Early Adventures - An Ordinary Life
  • Great lovable characters
  • Didn't want this one to end. Would love to see these people again
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Sound Production

Ian Cullen is the founder of and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: When he is not writing for Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of You can contact ian at: [email protected]
One Comment
  • Raissa Devereux (@RaissaDevereux)
    23 December 2014 at 7:35 pm -

    Agree totally. These early adventures have been consistently marvelous, and while Modern Who has a lot to offer, they need to take a page or two from Big Finish’s book.

  • Subscribe to Blog via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 27 other subscribers