The Haunting of Thomas Brewster (2008)

2008 TOMS TARDIS AWARDS WINNER – BEST MAIN RANGE STORY, BEST DIRECTOR (BARNABY EDWARDS)

The Haunting of Thomas Brewster is a story that is sadly memorable for one reason and its not what you would expect. This story is the first to feature the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa in over a year in the story Renaissance of the Daleks. This story is written by Jonathan Morris who had previously written the fantastic Bloodtide (2001) but also wrote the very poor Flip-Flop (2003). This story is as the title suggests is about a young lad called Thomas Brewster.

Peter Davison is on usual good form in this story. He seems to be having a good time and was given a different job to in this story which seems to be trying to get by without the TARDIS a lead a normal life. He seems to enjoy leading the academic life and it feels at times like he is resigned to the fact that he has Davison works really well with Sarah Sutton and I think that this combination is the best from this era. Sarah Sutton is also very good as Nyssa. Nyssa is my favourite companion from the classic series and that in this story she excels because she gets on very well with Thomas Brewster. There is almost the same relationship as Nyssa had with Tegan. Leslie Ash is the biggest guest star name of this story. She previously appeared in the BBC sitcom Men Behaving Badly. I thought that she was fantastic in this as Brewster’s mother. She had a very important part in this story and she very effective throughout this story. I do hope that this isn’t the last that we hear from her because I think that Ash was superb. Jon Pickard has appeared in the BBC Sitcom 2.4 Children and more recently can be seen in the Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks. Pickard is the first actor from a soap to appear in Doctor Who whilst still in their soap. Pickard who was 30 years old when he recorded this story manages to play a Victorian youngster which on TV would be a hard sell. Pickard is very good in this story as Brewster, he has to struggle with having lost his mother at a very early age. Brewster is very much like the Artful Dodger in Oliver which is perhaps where they got the inspiration for the character. Christian Coulson is perhaps the dark horse of this story, his character doesn’t seem to have much going for it but as the Doctor becomes stranded it his Robert’s relationship with the Doctor was what stood out for me. Coulson worked very well with Davison and as the story went on I was hoping that at the end the Doctor would ask Robert to travel with him in the TARDIS, alas he didn’t and we file Coulson’s Robert under the ‘Nearly A Companion’ file.

The opening scene is quite a morbid one as we have a young Thomas Brewster who has to listen to apparently friends or relatives bitching about how his mother would still be alive were it not for Thomas. You immediately have to have sympathy for him and as the story progresses that sympathy does wane a bit but ultimately you still have a soft spot for him. The biggest fault that I have with this story is the music. There is just too much and I mean way too much. At times I got really frustrated listening to it because you would have an important scene and then interrupted with 10 seconds of music. If the story was under running I’m sure that they could have come up with some extra dialogue that whilst might not have moved the plot on very much but at least it would have been better than the music. Jonathan Morris has written a nice solid script and it’s nice to see him back on form. Bloodtide is a superb story which I listen to time and time again and then he wrote Flip Flop which is more of a flop than anything else. Barnaby Edwards does another good turn as the director. He manages to keep the story going at an interesting pace throughout and in between the music interludes/marathons he manages to gets things all wrapped up at the end with the obvious cliffhanger.

Overall I think that this is quite a good story. If you get past the music debacle what you are left with a story that is intriguing to begin with and then downright entertaining to finish off and we have a thrilling cliffhanger which leaves you wanting more. This story is a triumph in terms of storytelling and in character development and as the theme tune plays for the final time you get the impression that it is building to something that will take months to reveal itself.

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