The Memory Cheats (2011)

The Memory Cheats is a sequel (of sorts) to the Echoes of Grey story from 2010. I decided to revisit that story in an attempt to familarise myself with the overall story. I have to admit that I was wrong with my original review. In that review dated August 22nd 2010, I said

“Echoes of Grey isnt quite the story it should be…….It takes way too long to get the story going and by that point I had all but lost interest in what was going on”

On listening to this story again I think that whilst it wasn’t snappy it was very interesting and it made complete sense. So with that change in opinion I ploughed on with this sequel. We seem to be getting a lot of story arcs in these CC’s. Liz Shaw is going to get an arc as are Steven Taylor has one at the moment so its only right that one of the smartest Who companions should get this treatment. The way that they get round Zoe’s mind block imposed by the Timelords is always a tricky one by the writers to get around. Simon Guerrier manages it very well and as the CC’s most regular writer (this is his 10th story with two more coming in this series), he has become the undisputed king of these sort of stories.

In the previous story, Zoe is being probed by Ali from ‘The Company’ who want to use her knowledge to retrieve some information from the events in Echoes. This comes some time later when Zoe is being charged by ‘the company’ and has a 63% change of avoiding execution. The story is set in Uzbekistan in 1919 where children are being taken. It didn’t matter what their race or religion was, they were been taken by some strange looking creature. The first half is so interesting and well read by Wendy Padbury that I was amazed that some 35 minutes had passed.

The alien ship that has been taking the children was apparently on an mission that just happened to be hit (which is likely considering they would have been round in 1918 during the First World War). I quite liked how we got the impression that the alien was feeling guilty about what it had done. I thought it was a brave idea to let the alien take the children back with him. Normally the Doctor would save the day and let the children go back to their homes. Zoe implies she was responsible for the negotiations which is something that is clear Guerrier wants us to accept and that is Zoe isn’t the whiter than white person we all think she is. But at the end Zoe says that she misled Jen which I thought was more like the old Zoe.

This story is a Padbury affair. Wendy is joined by her daughter Charlie Hayes who had appeared in a Stage play from a couple of years ago. They are both very good with Wendy edging it as plays Zoe just as good as she did in the 1960’s. Sometimes due to actors having played there characters anywhere between 30-50 years ago their voice don’t quite lend themselves to the time that the story is suppose to be set as we (or they) would have liked but Wendy has managed to get the closest. Charlie’s performance is also very good as she tries to find out the information and her best scene comes at the end when she realises that she has been lied to.

The title really refers to the point that Zoe had theses adventures yet cant remember them and as a result thinks that everyone else is wrong. The final scene is perhaps the most important because it leads the way into the next installement and I hope that they permantley get past this memory block thing because it is in danger of getting in the way of telling the story. I wouldn’t say that this story is better than Echoes of Grey but it is certainly a very good story and definetley the best story of this sixth season so far.


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