With which Doctor Who would you want to be stranded on Earth?
Dip in to Doctor Who Internet forums right now and you’ll find a definite divide between fans who love the current incarnation of the Time-Lord and those who loathe it.
It can be vicious, as with all things social media, but it is as it has ever been, really. Since the day a BBC producer was inspired to prolong the popular series by replacing its ailing star William Hartnell with Patrick Toughton, there have been those who haven't liked the 'New Doctor'.
A child of the 70's, my Doctor was Jon Pertwee. Even now, that era remains comfort viewing for me. It was never the same after he morphed into Tom Baker. That was quite a different programme.
Ironically for a sci-fi series, the Pertwee episodes worked for me because, for the most part, the Doctor was exiled to Earth and not adventuring through time and space. I never did find alien planets done on the cheap all that convincing.
So it's safe to say I was a fan of the Pertwee years rather than the series per se, which is what attracted me to Stranded 1, a new audio drama that Big Finish Productions invited to review. Released last year, Stranded 1 is a spin-off featuring the eighth actor to play the Doctor, Paul McGann – Stranded 2 is out in March.
As did Pertwee's incarnation, McGann's Doctor finds himself Earth-bound, his TARDIS gone. Forced to take refuge in his Baker Street home, he and his companions Liv and Helen find themselves caught up in 291 minutes of engaging adventures in pre-Covid London.
Just as Pertwee had his ensemble of regulars - Katy Manning's Jo Grant and Richard Franklin's Captain Yates, not forgetting the suavely evil Master played by Roger Delgado - so too does McGann, and what a cast it is.
Spooks favourite Nicola Walker is Liv, Hattie Morahan is Helen and they’re joined by star of sitcom Boy Meets Girl Rebecca Root, Tom Price, who reprises his Torchwood role of Sergeant Andy Davidson and Tom Baker, the Fourth Doctor himself, as The Curator. I was also chuffed to discover the fabulous Avita Jay, who I recently appeared in the film Miser’s Dream with, also features, as does The Bill's DCI Wray, Clive Wood.
Just as the Pertwee era brought the action home to me as a kid, Stranded 1 does too. It sets it in a relatable world and as Pertwee himself used to argue, 'There's nothing more scary than coming home and finding a Yeti on your loo in Tooting Bec… or Leith'. Okay, I added Leith. Big Finish know this, which is why the Stranded concept works so well. It’s a fantastic romp around London, battling aliens and making friends, without a single get out of jail free card to help the grounded Doctor.
Laced with mystery, dark humour and gripping performances, it’s a drama well worth a listen regardless of which Doctor Who is yours.
Drama always works so much better when played out in your head rather than on screen – the imagination so much more powerful than a camera. So, roll on Stranded 2 and thanks to Big Finish for enabling me to recapture some cherished childhood memories.
Stranded 1 and Stranded 2 (pre-order) are available from www.bigfinish.com