As any Doctor Who fan will know this year is the 60th anniversary of Doctor Who, and with that comes a lot of special releases.  Regular readers will know I’m a huge fan of Doctor Who, especially the audio stories and even have a podcast about them, Spare Prats.  So I was very much looking forward to Big Finish’s contribution to the 60th anniversary, and now its time for the third in that series; Doctor Who: Once and Future: A Genius for War.

As regular readers will know (both of you) the Seventh Doctor is my favourite Doctor and as such this one was high on my list of things to look forward to in this set. It starts with Time Lord regular Veklin played by the amazing Beth Chalmers who does that Time Lord thing of recruiting the Doctor for a job they don’t want to do, have they not learned from the many other times they’ve done it? Well to be fair it has always worked out well for them in the end.

So this is part of the ongoing Once and Future event and is telling the story of the Doctor as he degenerates through his timeline. The Time War. The Doctor has been injured and brought to a Time Lord field hospital. His body glows with energy, but this is no regeneration into a future form – instead, the Doctor’s past faces begin to appear as he flits haphazardly between incarnations…

Staggering to his TARDIS, the Doctor sets out to solve the mystery of his ‘degeneration’. Who has done this to him? How? And why? From the Earth to the stars, across an array of familiar times and places, he follows clues to retrace his steps, encountering old friends and enemies along the way. Tumbling through his lives, the Doctor must stop his degeneration before he loses himself completely…

Without giving away too many spoilers, the story hinges on the need to potentially rescue Davros and the fact that Davros insists it is the Doctor who rescues him.

For lots of people this has been their favourite so far in this set, and in many ways it should have been mine, but for some reason I didn’t like this one quite as much as the second one in the set. I’m not saying this isn’t good, far from it there’s lots in this to like, especially the partnership of the Doctor and Veklin, and even the Doctor and Davros but in the previous release I think I just preferred the partnership of the Doctor and Jenny, maybe this was missing another character I loved, I wonder if I’d have liked it more if Ace had been involved?   

Terry Molloy is always a joy as Davros and imbues the character with both menace and even a bit of pathos and he sparks nicely off of Sylvester McCoy. The story is an interesting mix, but the fundamental problem with any dalek/Davros story is that you know that at some point the daleks will betray Davros, unless they have already betrayed him and then he will seek an alliance with the Doctor and betray him, as that seems to happen a lot. It’s also lovely to see Ken Bones from the 50th anniversary story Day of the Doctor back as the General.


I think this is a great story but I think the thing I’m finding about this whole set is it feels like an excuse to hang the 60th banner on rather than the individual stories taking us through a larger arc. The actors are great and the story good but I’d really like to see the bigger story start to unfold and I feel like it’s missing that as the moment, Destiny of the Doctor, the Audiogo 11 disk set from 2013, all tied the separate stories together by cameo’s from the 11th Doctor in all of them, it feels this is missing that. I would recommend this as a standalone story and at the moment all of the ones of the set have been interesting in their own right but I still don’t feel its coming together as an arc.

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