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81. The Kingmaker

Dr Who encounters one of the most notorious characters from the past, as he journeys through time to solve the great Historical Mysteries...

Not surprisingly the Doctor becomes mixed up with Richard the third himself, as he tries to unravel the perplexing problem of who exactly killed the Princes in the Tower.

Peri and Erimem also encounter a suspicious time traveller. Someone from the Doctor's own past. Someone who shouldn't really be there at all.

So who did murder the Princes in the Tower? Perhaps it's best not to ask a question like that.

You might not like the answer...
Peter Davison (The Doctor); Nicola Bryant (Peri); Caroline Morris (Erimem); Arthur Smith (Clarrie); Michael Fenton-Stevens (Mr Seyton); Stephen Beckett (Richard; Duke of Gloucester); Marcus Hutton (Henry; Duke of Buckingham); John Culshaw (Earl Rivers); Chris Neill (Sir James Tyrell); Katie Wimpenny (Susan); Linzi Matthews (Judith)
Written By
Directed By
Gary Russell


107 rating(s) submitted

0% (0/11) of raters say this story requires listening to previous stories.

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Recent Ratings
Rated 10/10 on 7/20/14 3:02 am
Rated 10/10 on 7/5/14 6:43 pm
Rated 8/10 on 7/3/14 5:35 am
Rated 10/10 on 7/1/14 7:56 pm
Rated 10/10 on 6/23/14 7:17 pm
Rated 7/10 on 6/5/14 12:17 pm
Rated 8/10 on 5/9/14 12:01 pm
Rated 2/10 on 4/30/14 10:09 am
Rated 10/10 on 4/19/14 1:30 pm
Rated 9/10 on 2/2/14 10:53 am


(Highest - Lowest)

Review By chrisscorkscrew
Rated 10/10 on 4/19/14 1:30 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
The whole story is just a joy. The mix of historical irreverence and clever plotting kept me hooked all the way through, and I was constantly wrong-footed as the story took yet another twist. The acting is particularly good and it's obvious that the actors are having as good a time as the listener.

Recommended to listeners who like their stories with a rich vein of humour, manipulations of the timeline or a historical setting. This is one story I will be revisiting over and over again.
Reviewer Says: No previous stories required.
10 Rated 10/10 on 1/21/14 8:38 pm
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.
When you hear about the best Davison audios, it's hardly any other answer besides Spare Parts. This story went completely unnoticed by me for a while until I saw how high of a rating it has on here, which persuaded me to try it out. Needless to say, I was taken aback.

The plot is one of those few that's crazy enough to work. The Doctor and his companions separated by two years in history. As we learn with the Doctor what exactly happened to his friends, we also get to experience it firsthand with Peri and Erimem. As confusing as this may sound, I was almost never lost.

The script is also very well done. Almost every cast member gets some great one liners, in particular Davison - his dry humour is at its best. The pacing is also marvelous, with everything getting explained along the way at a slow but satisfying pace.

Stephen Beckett absolutely steals the show. What a wonderful villain. A murderer with morals is a hard character to write, but here it's done perfectly. Richard discussing timelines and destiny with the Doctor is one of the best scenes Big Finish has done.

And of course, the third cliffhanger. Don't spoil yourself and listen to it firsthand. It will surprise you.
Reviewer Says: No previous stories required.
10 Rated 10/10 on 5/16/13 5:55 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
Very funny, lots of great jokes both historical and not, which I don't want to spoil for you. I think this will work much better for someone who understands the underlying historical story before listening to it, and especially someone who's seen Shakespeare's play. My teenager thought it was "just OK," which I found disappointing. I guess he isn't the target audience. It's almost like an extended in-joke for the overeducated, but God is it funny if this is your cup of tea. Stephen Beckett is delicious as Richard, especially once he turns out to know more than he lets on, and Peter Davison is a marvelous comedian. I did not see the final plot twist coming but once it did it made perfect sense.
Review By yurix2
Rated 10/10 on 9/20/11 8:40 am
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.
Complex, clever, sublime and hilarious.

Plays on expectations and pulls the rug on the listener many times.

Great jaw dropping cliffhangers that are never about impending jeopardy and all about laugh out loud "didn't see that coming" moments.

My favourite Big Finish Doctor Who and all praise to the cast, sound crew and director who all realised what a gem the writer Nev Fountain had given them and rose to the occasion.

To precis the plot would spoil the fun.

If you like historical time travel conumdrums and chortling, dig in.
Review By bianco2nero
Rated 10/10 on 8/20/10 6:26 pm
0 out of 1 found this review helpful.
Absolutely perfect adventure, wonderfully written and played.
Review By Mr Flibble
Rated 9/10 on 10/17/10 4:11 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.
Anyone who wonders why the show is called Doctor Who may find an answer that pleases them. Decent story with a very solid villain.
Review By PaulaPenguin
Rated 4/10 on 5/18/13 3:12 pm
1 out of 2 found this review helpful.
I realize I'm in a tiny minority here, but this story just didn't work for me. I would like to say that normally I am a big fan of Nev Fountain's style of writing, his humour and his way of constructing a plot. But somehow it all fell rather flat in The Kingmaker.
The silly and anachronistic pieces of dialogue and jokes kept pulling me right out of the drama. And despite being fairly well-versed in British history I found the plot quite confusing at times. So when I got to the big cliffhanger at the end of episode three I thought, maybe now everything is going to be turned around and there is going to be some kind of logical explanation. But there was no real resolution, which to me made the game-changing reveal seem incredibly random.
There are some rather good scenes, a couple of lovely references and a number of jokes that actually work quite well, but overall I'm afraid this simply isn't my cup of tea.
Review By Lie128
Rated 2/10 on 1/15/12 12:59 pm
0 out of 1 found this review helpful.
Not much to say bout this one, found it boring tedious and didnt live up to its fame at all. Really boring
Review By sihunt
Rated 2/10 on 3/5/11 2:04 pm
0 out of 2 found this review helpful.
"The Kingmaker" us crippled by a clutch of misconceptions - the biggest of which is that the less seriously a comedy writer takes the task of writing a Doctor Who story, the funnier it will come in a witty, ironic kind of way. Listening to "The Kingmaker" is a three phased experience.

Phase 1 is the beginning, at which point things don't seem to be going too badly. In many ways it's bizarre that Big Finish bothered to mask the appearance of a "Doctor Who Discovers" book on the sleeve with a fake website cover - the surprise of finding it there masks the question of just why this was preserved as such a great surprise. The book isn't even that important to the plot, and would have probably added to the appeal of the story if known about at first, since it initially looked just like another dull historical. The way the book is tied into the story is, however, ingenious, and although self-indulgent, the robot chasing writers through time for deadlines is a fun concept too. So far, so on the way to something clever and a little bit different.

Phase 2 is the meat of the story, and lasts up until the end of episode 3. At this point, one listener at least was left completely adrift. I'm afraid that even having memorised the entire script of "The Black Adder", I have no idea about the history of King Richard The First, and was thus completely thrown for most of the story. The play seems to set out to solve a historical mystery, but I'm afraid I'm still none the wiser as to what it was. Something about some princes, and how someone died. It was at this point that I realised that "The Kingmaker" is, in truth, actually a boring historical after all. People talk at length, albeit not in historical lexicon, there are some dungeons and torture and plenty of clich├ęd period pap, while Nicola Bryant portrays a dreadfully out-of-character Peri. No, scratch that, she isn't playing Peri at all, instead stepping into the shoes of some flippant, fun-loving young woman who definitely isn't the Peri Brown we all know from Doctor Who. There is one very good sequence in this 'phase', namely when the Doctor communicates with Peri and Erimem by a series of notes left for them to find in the future. However, think about it and you'll realise the writer nicked this idea completely from "The Curse of Fatal Death", whose clever-clever style he so obviously courts.

Phase 2 ends with the "big cliffhanger". In another slice of wink-wink cleverness, the story has been set up so we're expecting (or not expecting, as it was obvious this was a red-herring) the Master to appear in the cliffhanger. The actual character that steps out of the shadows is less a let-down than a bafflement. It's not exactly clever, because there's not really any reason for him to be there, neither is it anyone you would ever single out to WANT to see. But the twist just about works because it seems as if it's going to throw the story off into an interesting new gear.

Alas, it doesn't, and Phase 3 is what confirms to me what an utter waste of time listening to "The Kingmaker" was. Put simply, nothing actually happens in the rest of the story, bar two girls turning out to be the "real" prince's, whatever significance that has. The Doctor whisks two famous historical figures off in the TARDIS for a run-around which culminates in them swapping places, at one point one of them being mistaken for someone playing him in an amdram production. It's all somehow utterly unhilarious, and very much 'ideas down the pub' stuff.

The curious thing is, that listening to "The Kingmaker" wasn't actually a terrible experience. A little confusing perhaps, but it kept me interested to see what would happen next, and the script is fairly full of sparkling nuggets of dialogue, like the cheeky mention of the Ninth Doctor. It's when the thing finishes, and you think of what is actually represents, that you start to realise why the BBC are so precious about current Doctor Who, and why it was such a good thing that this lot didn't have a hand in bringing it back instead. "The Kingmaker" is, more than any other story to date, a bunch of fans making their own Doctor Who. We always knew that's what Big Finish was of course, but at least in the past they were pretending to be making it properly. This is nothing short of a Tavern wheeze, a self-indulgent mockery of the show that once starred proper actors and feels a very long way away after hearing this play.