Comedy and tragedy are two sides of the same coin as The Seventh Doctor once said in The Happiness Patrol. And its true they are, no truer than this story because when the laughter stops the tragedy begins and we are taken back to Susan Foreman’s blackest day and to what just might be her Grandfathers blackest day.
Carole Ann Ford returns to narrate and to play the part of Susan in a story loaded with significance for the whole of her relationship with The Doctor, because in the Earth Susan lives in, where they have suffered two Dalek Invasions and are only just starting to build a working society and then the Time War intervenes. Not that it seems that the Time War is intervening but it is.
Susan Foreman, neither are the real names of the character we know but she has grown used to them and she is always on call when Earth authorities need a helping hand with a disaster or some alien tech. But lately Susan has been suffering from a sort of hay-fever feeling, a pressure that just wont go away and what with Dalek tech starting itself up for no good reason, asteroids on a collision course with the Earth and a plague of bio-mechanoid spiders she has a lot to cope with at the moment.
There is a lot of nostalgia in this story, Susan lives in a flat in the converted remains of Coal Hill School, in the courtyard there is a tree planted to commemorate Ian and Barbara and then there is an unexpected visit from her Grandfather, now in his Eighth incarnation and Susan’s world will never ever be the same again.
This is one of those stories that absolutely pulls the rug out from under you, it goes from hi-jinx with custard floods and hi-octane thrills with Spider cyborgs to a small scale conversation between a Time-Lord and his Granddaughter and a momentous decision to be made because this is the day that the Time War invades Susan’s life and the choices she makes on this day will shape not only hers but also The Doctor’s future direction.
It turns on a sixpence, and a great moment of stillness hits you and we are back at the end of The Dalek Invasion of Earth with over 50 years of hindsight, and the story told today is no less heartbreaking but is another paving stone on the road to Karn and everything burning in the aftermath.
Beautifully performed and written and directed with every ounce of emotion and sorrow wrenched from the source material this is a story of a right of passage and a choice and it is rather wonderful 10/10.
Written by Ed Watkinson
Doctor Who: Short Trips Monthly is a series of new short stories read by an original cast member.
Release #34 is an Eighth Doctor and Susan story.
Everyone Susan Campbell cared about has gone. Most of them died in the second Dalek invasion, and her grandfather never visits. She’s living in what used to be Coal Hill School, helping Earth rebuild again.
Then, one night, she’s called away to help with an emergency. A piece of appropriated Dalek technology is malfunctioning, and everyone’s afraid of what it might do…
This is just the first in a sequence of predicaments facing Susan – and the connection between them will shape the rest of her life.
Producer Ian Atkins
Script Editor Ian Atkins
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
Written By: Eddie Robson
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman
Carole Ann Ford (Narrator)