In Review: Big Finish: THE FIRST DOCTOR VOLUME 02

'Across the Darkened City' by David Bartlett is the jewel in the crown of this box set.

Synopsis: Volume 2 of the First Doctor companion chronicles sees the writers provide us with a Dalek adventure as well as a direct Prequel of sorts to The Tenth Planet, which makes clever use of Elizabethan Theatre.

Review: As a long time fan of these early Doctor Who adventures by Big Finish. This set, which is produced by our old friend Ian Atkins is wonderful and takes a few clever gambles that tie directly into the continuity of the television adventures of William Hartnell’s Doctor.

‘Fields of Terror’ by John Pritchard gives us a wonderful adventure set in Revolutionary France in which the Doctor, Steven and Vicki get caught in the middle of the conflict. However there is an alien presence lurking, which makes matter so much more complex.

‘Across the Darkened City’ by David Bartlett is the jewel in the crown of this box set. It’s a Dalek Adventure that is easily the equal of episodes like ‘Dalek Master Plan’ or ‘Dalek’ from the 9th Doctor era.

A lot of Dalek adventures in ‘Doctor Who’ can be sort of by the numbers. Which is why I personally like so few of them. But ‘Across the Darkened City’ is the kind of Dalek adventure that I really love.

The story see Steven having to essentially work with a damaged Dalek and get it across the city to the relative safety of the transmat pad. So it can travel back to Skarro. Over the course of the journey Steven forms a bond with the Dalek. Which is what makes things so entertaining.

It’s a Dalek story that has a few clever twist and turns.

‘The Bonfires of the Vanities’ by Una McCormack sets up a mini story arc involving the much under used and not much talked about Ben and Polly, but also has a fun narrative involving Guy Fawkes night.

It’s almost a shame that Big Finish could not hold off releasing this story until November. It would have tied in beautifully with its mix of a great fire and the rather horrific imps.

‘The Plague of Dreams’ by Guy Adams concludes the set with a brilliant story, which notes the first Doctor’s penultimate adventure.

Set just prior to ‘The Tenth Planet’ the story sees The Doctor, Ben and Polly into an Elisabethan play, which is presided over by another mysterious Time Lord.

The story feels kind of meta in that Polly is playing herself and the Doctor within the confines of the play as well as outside of it.

The play is apparently a means to an end in that is it to help wake the populace up from some form of plague that has put them all and the Doctor into a dream state.

Elliot Chapman does a brilliant job of pulling double duty here in his role of the Player and Ben. The Player is of course the mysterious time lord who is helping Polly to free the Doctor from the grip of the plague.

Again there are several clever nods to the 50 plus years worth of continuity from Doctor Who’s long past. It even references the Time War, but in an indirect kind of a way.


This for me has been one of the best Companion Chronicles I have listened to in recent years.

I really enjoyed the two stories involving Ben and Polly and how Ian Atkins worked with both writers to cleverly tie those two stories together.

I also very much enjoyed the Dalek story, which was done in such a way that all Dalek stories should be.

The Daleks are so much better when they are being sneaky.

  • Stories
  • Voice Acting
  • Audio Production
  • Art Work

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:
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