Synopsis: Jetsetter, adventurer, and owner of a very unusual London bus, Lady Christina de Souza likes the finest things. Even if they don’t belong to her. And the more exotic – or alien – the better.
But Christina’s activities have caught the attention of UNIT, and now Sam Bishop is on her trail…
Review: Lady Christina — the latest New Doctor Who spin-off from Big Finish — is yet further proof that the BBC was right to get out of the Doctor Who spin-off business. In the ultimate irony, the television incarnation of a franchise featuring time travel just doesn’t have the time to let these characters and their universe breathe.
“It Takes a Thief” by John Dorney, the first story in the set, proves my point. Yes, it’s a romp in the vein of To Catch a Thief. However, Dorney not only deftly reintroduces Lady Christina de Souza, he also begins to provide a tonal shift for UNIT that’s still in keeping with what we know. That’s something the television series never had the luxury of doing.
In “Skin Deep,” James Goss delves into Lady Christina’s background, simultaneously forcing her and Sylvia Noble to take good, long looks at themselves. All the while, the possession by alien insect story plays out without the deeper elements overpowering the camp or vice versa. Maintaining the tonal balance isn’t something that Doctor Who does consistently well on television these days.
“Portrait of a Lady” by Tim Dawson continues the deeper character exploration with a lighter touch by immersing Lady Christina and UNIT’s Sam Bishop in a James Bond homage that’s more Roger Moore and less Daniel Craig. The titular portrait is both literal and psychological forcing the characters to find new levels while maintaining their original ones in ways that the standard 45-minute television format just doesn’t allow for.
Finally, I found “Death on the Mile” by Donald McLeary to be the strongest Slitheen story we’ve been given yet, which isn’t high praise, as I hate the Slitheen very much. At least listeners were given a cool setting in Scotland, which hasn’t been featured on the show proper since the Tom Baker era. I really appreciated the exploration of Scotland as a sight for volcanoes and the fate of Edinburgh Castle.
Michelle Ryan owns the role, and it’s obvious she’s having the time of her life. Equally, Jacqueline King shines in her latest return as Sylvia Noble. She balances sympathy and edge expertly. Additionally, Warren Brown was a great crossover addition as UNIT’s Sam Bishop. If Sam’s interactions with Lady Christina are anything to go by, I can’t wait for her to meet Osgood. Last, but not least, I’d like to mention Christopher Ryan, as Grunt — an unhinged, unraveling Sontaran — in Dawson’s tale. I hadn’t thought about it, but Sontarans would make good James Bond henchmen.
Lady Christina is an excellent box set, and Big Finish’s latest leading lady is a perfect addition. I can’t wait for Christina to meet Iris Wildthyme and take part in a Worlds of Big Finish crossover. at some point.
- You can purchase Lady Christina here.
Written By: John Dorney, James Goss, Tim Dawson, Donald McLeary
Directed By: Helen Goldwyn
Michelle Ryan (Lady Christina de Souza), Jacqueline King (Sylvia Noble), Warren Brown (Sam Bishop), Matt Barber (Ivo Fraser-Cannon), Cristina Barreiro (Flavia Santos), Holly Jackson Walters (Carla / Maud Hunter), William Gaminara (Lord Alfred de Souza), Suzy Bloom (Tamarind / Amber), Rebecca Yeo (Malia), Gareth Corke (Leon Clancy / Policeman / Taxi driver), Emily Carewe (Lucy Clancy / Perfection), Matthew Brenher (Mr Kamen / Concierge), Christopher Ryan (Grunt / Handley), Jenny Lee (The Keeper), Tracy Wiles (Jacqui McGee), Melissa Collier (Elaine / Janice), Richard Hansell (Robin), Ewan Bailey (Sir Edward Scott Cameron / Biggs). Other parts played by members of the cast.
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Matt Fitton
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
- Audio Production10