Find and Replace (2010)

Find and Replace is a story that brings together Jo Grant and Iris Wildthyme. Both characters are played by Katy Manning and both characters have appeared in Big Finish over the years. Jo Grant is appearing in her third companion chronicle after The Doll of Death in 2008 and The Mists of Time last year. It is also the third time that Iris Wildthyme has appeared after appearing in one of the Excelis stories back in 2001 and also appearing in the Wormery back in 2003 which was just an awful adventure. I have to say that I’m not a big fan of Iris because I think she is like Marmite. The story also sees the return of Huxley the Narrator who appeared in the Turlough Companion Chronicle ‘Ringpullworld’ back in 2009. I don’t think I was keen of his character either but I was determined to keep an open mind when I pressed the play button.

The story starts off in a curious way with Jo shopping and upon entering a lift she meets Huxley. He then tries to convince her that she never travelled or had any adventures with the Doctor and infact it was with Iris. That’s the plot. As the listener we are caught on the question as to why is Huxley doing this. The mystery is made even more curious when Iris gets involved. It’s shortly after Iris appears before we realise the Iris knows none of what Huxley is saying is true. However to find out why he’s doing this she takes Huxley and Jo back to 1970 and the UNIT HQ there. There is a bit of stalling by writer Paul Magrs before the inevitable happens and Jo from 2010 meets the Doctor she knew from the 1970’s. Its revealed that the Doctor asked Huxley to convince both Iris and Jo that they travelled together and not the Doctor and Jo because the Doctor wants to protect Jo. However Jo is horrified because she thinks of her time with the Doctor to be wonderful and doesn’t want her memories changed.

Right, first the good things. Its very well paced. It didn’t drag at all and Paul Magrs did a good job of keeping everything interesting. I actually liked Iris in this. I didn’t find her to be irritating and that meant I could continue to buy into the story. I thought that Katy Manning did a great job of doing both voices which must have been a challenge because they are both quite distinctive characters and she didn’t try and get them similar to make it easier for her. I also enjoyed Huxley. In this he was funny and entertaining and I think it was that Magrs gave him more to do in this. In Ringpullworld he was a bit 2D but in this he was allowed more time. I never thought I would say this but I hope this isn’t the last time we hear from him. Lisa Bowerman also deserves some credit for this. As I mentioned earlier, the story was well paced and also exciting. The direction was sharp and snappy and at no point did I wonder how long had the story being going on for.

Now the not so good news. The big sticking point is the plot hole which you could drive Iris’ bus through. Why Jo? Why did the Doctor decide that Jo was so special? Why not Liz or Ben or Polly or Ian or Barbara? That never got explained and ruined a perfectly good story. But the main problem that that when it finished, I just felt odd. I wasn’t quite sure what made me feel like this. In the week since I finished listening to this story and started to write this review I have been trying to wonder why I was bowled over by it. The only thing that I think it could be is that as there were two characters and one doesn’t really make many appearances in the Doctor Who universe, I was expecting something slightly more than a character piece.

It’s not a terrible story by any means. I could hear Katy Manning talk about Chemistry or something equally dull and I wouldn’t mind. I think that one word describes Find and Replace – Ordinary.

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