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 first contribution to the 60th anniversary, The Once and Future: Past Lives.

The story, written by Robert Valentine, the man who was trusted to write the final of the long running Doctor Who Main Range stores, is the first in a yearlong 8 release set. The action starts with no preamble and kicks straight into the storyline of the Doctor degenerating through his timeline, in this first release it’s a chance to briefly visit past Doctors from the 7th to the first. At this point there’s no explanation really of what happens or what lead to this. It could have been interesting to know what lead to this but I am assuming that might be revealed as the set goes on.

The story starts with the Doctor hunting for the Monk after he degenerates, his form has established itself as Tom Baker’s 4th Doctor, for many the definitive Doctor. The monk is ably played by Rufus Hound, and after a very amusing reference to a classic band who once did a Doctor Who related single, the adventure starts. As befits a 60th anniversary they’re obviously packing in references to past Who’s including Sadie Miller returning as Sarah Jane Smith, and probably feeling more like her mother than ever before and reuniting, for many this is THE Doctor and companion. A clever decision to mix new and old comes in when the Doctor encounters Kate Stewart and Osgood. I’ve loved the UNIT sets though having these 2 perks it up.

The story manages to hint towards a little Arthurian lore, to go with the name of the set, as some of the action happens at Glastonbury Tor.  This makes me wonder if somehow it might end up that the whole thing is linked into the seventh Doctor being Merlin.

The ending also pushes towards the next adventure.

The enemies for this episode are the Hyreth, who I think were new for this, and seem to be a crocodile based creature, but in many ways that part of the story doesn’t feel too important. It feels like a backdrop for the characters.


It’s difficult to judge this as it’s effectively the first of 8, though there isn’t a lot of story setting in this as the story starts immediately and it doesn’t go too far back in explanation, I imagine as time goes on we will find out more about that event. The story moves apace and it feels like the best I’ve heard Sadie Miller plying her mother. Tom is just Tom and that’s enough. The story is fine, but as the first in an epic arc it does feel slightly more forgettable than I’d expect, it’s a good enough story but it didn’t seem to have some of the wow factor that leaves me desperate to find out what happens next. I’m torn with the fact that it just gets going fast into the action, but initially it does feel a little like it’s lacking context. There is lots to enjoy in this but I was left maybe expecting a little more and I feel that maybe it will work better as the first in a longer set than a standalone story.

This can be bought directly from Big Finish; available now.

Author Rating

  • overall
  • writing style
  • plot/information
  • enjoyment
Pros & Cons
  • Excellent cast of Tom Baker, Sadie Miller, Rufus Hound, Ingrid Oliver and Jemma Redgrave
  • Story is good but I expected more for the first in an epic arc

User Reviews


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *