2 out of 3 found this review helpful.
The Kingmaker is the most balmy, crazy and wacko Doctor Who audio ever. Forget The Scorchies, Doctor Who And The Pirates, The Ultimate Adventure and all the rest. This is the wackiest Doctor Who story of all time, with some frankly silly ideas, which, were they to be taken by most writers, would come across as a complete mess. But this story is written by Nev Fountain, and he manages to take all of these disparate elements, and weave them together into something that not only is a coherent, well plotted story, but also one of the funniest pieces of Doctor Who fiction ever. The basic premise of the story is that the Doctor is writing a book about Richard III and whether he killed the princes in the tower. But rather than just exploring that idea, Fountain subverts everything to an absurd degree, and mines it for as much humour as possible, which results in something truly unique. For example, Fountain brings in the real world fact of Target having written books called Doctor Who Discovers, and gives an in-universe explanation as to why that is there. I didn't need to be done, but trying to push such a ludicrous idea into the Doctor Who universe is funny and helps set the general tone for this adventure. I say general tone, because while it is, for the most part, a light-hearted romp, there are quite a few dark moments that do indeed reinforce the danger that the 15th century was. There are some brutal moments of torture, which are pretty gruesome, and there is also a bit of talk about the nature of foreknowledge, and the morality of nipping back and observing a famous killer at work, and where that would leave a person. I loved the scenes between the Doctor and Richard here, with some very interesting ideas brought up. However, as I said earlier, the story's main focus is on comedy, and mocking historical truths, and I loved the way this came together. The main revelations are downright silly, but that's half the fun with this script: hearing what ludicrous twist is going to come up next. And the end is possibly one of the most stupid, illogical, continuity breaking twists ever. And it is so utterly fantastic. Fountain throws caution to the wind and just creates a humdinger of an ending that ties up all the loose threads, but does so in the most extraordinary way. And provides the best answer ever as to who killed the princes in the tower. While you could argue that the characters were merely caricatures, and merely there to provide a focus for the comedy, Fountain still creates such outlandish characters. The idea of making Richard III sound like Christopher Eccleston is inspired (as is the cheeky reference to a chap with 'big ears'), and Jon Culshaw also gets to put his Tom Baker impression into work in a dramatic sense. All were fabulously over the top, but it never seemed like the actors were hamming it up. Everyone, like Arthur Smith and Stephen Beckett, maintain the straightness of the characters throughout, much to my delight. That's not to say they weren't having fun: Chris Neill pitched Tyrall as a 15th century version of Julian Clary, and it was clear that Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant and Caroline Morris were enjoying themselves too. Peter especially, seen as he doesn't have as many overtly comic stories as the other Doctors, bar Tom and John. Gary Russell's direction was also superb, making sure the story remained straight throughout. Gareth Jenkins and Andy Hardwick's sound design and music was also amazing, with some great music in particular. It was occasionally a little hard to tell if the action had shifted into a different time or not, but it was only a really tiny niggle, and barely detracted from the story at all. Overall, The Kingmaker is a standout main range release that had me doubling up in stiches. Certainly, if you like your Doctor Who to stick to the version of history were familiar with, you'll hate this. But, if you're prepared to let Nev Fountain play loose and fast with history and you're perception of it, than you'll find yourself in for a killer of a ride. One of my all time favourite Big Finish's.