THIS STORY TAKES
BOOK "ECHOES OF
BIG FINISH 'COMPANION
CHRONICLES' CD 4.02
RELEASED IN AUGUST
JUST What happened in
1688, when the TARDIS
landed in London, and
the Doctor, Jamie and
Zoe were welcomed
into the court of King
It was the year of the
And the birth of a
whole new history…
The Glorious Revolution
Given the rapidly-mounting popularity of Big Finish’s Companion Chronicle range and the huge success of Helicon Prime specifically, the only thing that surprised me about the commissioning of this story was that it took so long. Not only is our Jamie McCrimmon one of the most popular companions amongst listeners, but Frazer Hines is able to deliver the most extraordinary interpretation of Patrick Troughton’s gravelly Doctor, making him the ideal candidate to spearhead a multitude of these exceptional audio books. In fact, were it up to me, he’d have his own range, though given some of Big Finish’s recent non-Who work they couldn’t call it “Highlander”…
And here Hines’ consummate efforts are propped up by a script that manages to evoke the feel of the Troughton era, whilst still managing to tell a story that’s as fresh and progressive as anything that you’d be likely to find in the main range. This story’s writer, Jonathan Morris, demonstrated just how firm a grasp he has on the key rudiments of this era with his perfectly-scented script for The Great Space Elevator, but here he goes one better. On the face of it, The Glorious Revolution stands out as it is a rare example of a second Doctor historical, yet everything about it just feels right. After all, although the second Doctor only dipped into our history on one, memorable occasion during his televised run, it was there that he picked up his loyal Scots companion.
Nevertheless, The Glorious Revolution isn’t a straightforward historical cut of the same cloth as Jamie’s debut serial. This is Jamie’s version of The Aztecs; his rage against the machine. And what makes it especially interesting is that, unlike Babs
in Tenochtitlan, Jamie’s attempts to change history meet with
a fair degree of success, effectively giving rise to an alternate timeline and attracting the attention of the Time Lords’ Celestial Intervention Agency, who despatch a representative to visit Jamie as an old man; restore his lost memories of his travels with the Doctor; and then quiz him about what he did in 1688, in the court of King James II, so that time can be set back on its proper course.
It’s a nice bookend; especially so, as it affords us a glimpse of what happens to Jamie after his travels with the Doctor ultimately end (whenever that may be). As companions will often meet with tragedy-tinged fates, it’s heart-warming to find Jamie happily living as an affable, old family man; veritable legions of bairns having sprung forth from his loins. Furthermore,
as I’m listening to this production in April 2010, having picked it up for a fiver in Big Finish’s sale promoting Jamie’s impending return (alongside Colin Baker’s Doctor), I half-wondered
if Morris was going to leave the highlander with his memories in tact, perhaps as a lead-in
to the upcoming trilogy. However, by the end of this story all the toys are back in the box.
The adventure itself is relentlessly
entertaining. Morris manages to
foist a plethora of ‘historical Who’
staples upon us – the Doctor and Jamie even dress up as washer-
women at one point, the illogic of
which is pointed out by the female
member of the ensemble – yet still
break new ground. The final ten
minutes or so of the first episode
are a real high point, as within a relatively short period of time Jamie manages to change history; inadvertently prompt the ruddy-faced ‘Hanging Judge’ to execute the Doctor and Zoe; rescue the pair of them from the hangman’s noose; and then start to fade away as his own past becomes unravelled as
a result of his meddling! It puts the triple-threat cliffhanger of Aliens of London to shame.
And this story’s guest star, Andrew Fettes, makes for an effective King James II. Like just about everyone else in the country without a history degree, the bloodless revolution of the sixteen-eighties is something that I was completely ignorant of, but now, thanks to Morris’ well-researched script and Fettes’ pusillanimous performance, I feel like I’m well-versed in
it - nose-bleeds, rumours and all. Fettes also pulls double duty, which is unprecedented for
a guest voice, but makes perfect sense, really. With him voicing both the Old Pretender and the slippery CIA agent, and Hines voicing the rest of the story’s colourful cast of characters, the soundscape of The Glorious Revolution is that little bit more dynamic than most of its peers.
The production’s director, Nigel Fairs, comes in for a fair bit of good-natured stick in the
CD Extras, as his colleagues wax eloquent about how they all prefer to be directed by Lisa Bowerman (whom Hines appears to really have the hots for!) In truth though, Fairs does a magnificent job with this production, which he doesn’t just direct - he composed the score and crafted the sound design too. His little, bagpipe ‘Jamie jingle’ certainly drew a smile
or two from me, particularly when the hot-headed Scot was leaping over balustrades and waving a pike about, like only he can.
For me though, what makes The Glorious Revolution such a soaring success is what it does with the Doctor and Jamie. On television, these two friends were always as solid as a rock, but here, for the first time, their friendship is truly tested as Jamie ignores the Doctor’s sage counsel and sets about influencing the historical events around him. Certain scenes are almost spooky as they sound exactly like Frazer Hines and Patrick Troughton tearing chunks out of one another in character, when in fact they’re just Hines arguing with himself
in two very different voices. You can’t put a price on a delight like that, but if you could, rest assured it’d be more than a fiver.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2010
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This story’s blurb places its events between the television serials The Seeds of Death and The Space Pirates. Within this gap, we have placed them between the novel The Final Sanction and the events of the audio book Echoes of Grey, to reflect the stories’ order of release.
Dialogue in this story refers to this adventure being Jamie’s first trip into his own history. This is at odds with his exploits during the Civil War as depicted in Mark Gatiss’ novel for BBC Books, The Roundheads, which is set years before this adventure (whichever way you choose to look at it). Just goes to show what havoc may be wrought when you start messing about with your own past...
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