Audio Review: Doctor Who - Destiny of the Doctor 4: Babblesphere

Doctor Who: Babblesphere

Doctor Who: Babblesphere - Credit: Archant

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ONE of the things Doctor Who has always done very well is to take the everyday and mundane and give it an otherwordly twist. From deadly plastic flowers and living seaweed to creatures in the wi-fi and animated statues, the show revels in making its audience unnerved by things they see all around them.

This tradition continues in the fourth instalment of the anniversary epic Destiny of the Doctor, featuring the Fourth Doctor and his companion Romana, with actress Lalla Ward looking after the key narrative duties alongside Roger Parrott as Aurelias.

But in this instance the cultural concept taking a battering is social networking, with the inhabitants of an Earth colony reduced to spending their entire lives absorbed in the minutiae of status updates, “likes” and pictures of cats doing funny things, after their equivalent of Twitter and Facebook was made compulsory under punishment of death for non-compliance.

Romana takes the lead for much of the first half of this story, with the Doctor elsewhere undergoing interrogation, and it’s up to the Time Lady to find out more about this bizarre colony (which also has a very baroque theme, to add to the otherwordliness) and rescue him from receiving a Babblesphere implant of his own.


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Writer Jonathan Morris has previously penned novels featuring this particular Doctor-companion team, and he does a grand job of capturing the student revue feel of Season 17, but the social media theme is bashed home with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, and the decision to sideline the Doctor for such a large chunk of the narrative restricts the intellectual interplay which so characterised his relationship with the second Romana.

Continuing the overarching theme for this series, the Eleventh Doctor pops up late in proceedings for a cameo, but unfortunately loyal listeners have now come to expect this and it’s growing a bit tired and lacking in the element of surprise, especially as there is still no indication of exactly where the story arc is heading beyond the latter Doctor collecting an assortment of items from various points in time and space.

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Not the best instalment in the Destiny of the Doctor range, but by no means a dud, this is an amusing look at why we should experience the world around us instead of writing about it in status updates…

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