Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Big Finish - The Spectre of Lanyon Moor

The ninth title in the Big Finish monthly range was The Spectre of Lanyon Moor Released in 2000, written and directed by Nicholas Pegg, and starring Colin Baker, Maggie Stables and Nicholas Courtney.

This was one of the first Big Finish stories I ever bought, I think it was on special offer at the time and Brian from British Invaders recommended it to me as a spooky story with the Sixth Doctor and the Brigadier. I have gone back and listened to it again as part of my look back at some earlier Big Finish releases.

The Doctor and Evelyn Smythe show up at an archaeological dig in Cornwall and, as ever, all is not what it seems. There are strange sightings on the moor, mysterious goings on at the Manor house, and somebody is trying to get hold of a missing and very powerful artefact.

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart has come out of semi-retirement to represent UNIT at the dig. The Brig never met the Sixth Doctor on television so it is nice to have them encounter each other here. I doesn't take the Brigadier long to recognise the Doctor and soon they are working together just like the old days. Nicholas Courtney was a terrific presence throughout the years of classic Doctor Who. A talented actor and, by all accounts, a lovely person. If there was one person from the television show I wish I could have met it would be Mr Courtney. Sadly he is no longer with us and after the Wedding of River Song we know he is no longer a part of the Who-niverse, which is a sad thought.

Courtney and Baker are on fine form here, as is Maggie Stables as Evelyn Smythe. She gets a job to do which suits her background as a historian, and, inevitably, she gets into trouble but is able to get out of it without the Doctor's help. The rest of the cast are also very good. I have always been a fan of James Bolam and it was great to hear him, and his wife Susan Jameson, in this story.

My only criticism is of the decision to give us an opening scene that tells us what the secret of Lanyon Moor is right at the start. It is unusual position for us to know more about the threat than the Doctor does, but that was just a story telling decision and apart from working out which of the various characters is the villain there are not too many surprises in this adventure. The sound design is as effective as ever, things go bump, strange creatures make strange noises, and large bits of scentific equipment whizz and bang in a suitable fashion.

It's all rather good but perhaps didn't stand up as well as I remembered it. I am going to give it a solid 3.5 out of 5 focus amplifiers rating. My trawl through the back catalogue will continue with Winter for the Adept.

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