The Five Companions (2011)

The Queen Speech, Misery on Eastenders, Turkey. These are just a few things that are traditional in the final month of the year. Perhaps the most relevant is that Big Finish say Thankyou to the subscribers by giving them a free full cast release. In previous years we have had Daleks, Krotons and the Doctor returned to The Web Planet. Even last year we had a multi-doctor story. This year is similarly as spectacular. As the title suggests this story features five companions from the Doctor’s past. However there are also Daleks and Sontarans to add as the threat and something for the companions work together.

The companions are Sara Kingdom, Steven Taylor, Ian Chesterton, Polly and Nyssa. They have all found themselves in this strange place along with Daleks and Sontarans. No one can seem to leave and the whole story seems to be aiming for escape. For me that is not really important because its more about the relationship of the companions with each other as well as with the Doctor. This is for me how I would judge the story. Congratulations to Eddie Robson for managing to balance it out perfectly. Each companion and monster were given enough time and dialogue to justify their prescene in this. In fact only the T-Rex doesn’t get enough time. It’s typical isnt it. You wait years for a Sontaran story and then you get two within a year. Ok so this isnt their own story but it good to see how a battle between the Daleks and Sontarans would have ended up looking like. It was far more satisfying than the Daleks/Cybermen battle in the 2006 adventure ‘Army of Ghosts/Doomsday’.

Peter Davison is the Doctor chosen for this story and he plays a secondary role which he does very well. It probably would have been better to have a later Doctor because whilst it was nice to see the Doctor meet up with Ian, Steven, Sara and Polly but it just felt like a normal release when it came to Nyssa. Speaking of Nyssa, Sarah Sutton gets to do all the brainy stuff and when she joins the story she is already working for the Daleks. It was nice to have Peter Purves and William Russell in the same story because as they pointed out in the extras they only did two episodes together and considering they were the first two male companions in the show and were very much involved in the action it wasn’t surprising that they didn’t play their characters as they were in the TV show (Russell is 87 and Purves is 72). They still hold their own and have some of the best stuff. It’s just a shame they didn’t get more TV time together because on this evidence it would have been great. Anneke Wills and Jean Marsh are also very good and their partnership.

The final scene with them all is similar to the final scene in ‘The Four Doctors’. It is loaded with nostalga and it’s a nice moment. It’s not very often that William Russell, Anneke Wills, Jean Marsh and Peter Purves get to feature in a full cast adventure like this so its an important release. I always say that its difficult to really critise free releases but that isnt a problem here because The Five Companions is a lovely release that doesn’t try and over complicate things or make them seem dramatic but just tells a nice straight forward story and does it well.


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