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< 80. Time Works
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81. The Kingmaker

Rating Votes
10
47%
62
9
19%
25
8
18%
24
7
4%
5
6
5%
7
5
2%
2
4
2%
2
3
0%
0
2
3%
4
1
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Average Rating
8.7
Votes
131

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From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
NR
Plot Rating:
10
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
10
Effects Rating:
10
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: Stephen PoppittReview Date: 7/15/16 8:57 am
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Before reviewing this audio production, I should say that, in my opinion, this is the best "Doctor Who" historical drama ever written, and I don't exclude even the television serials written by John Lucarotti (or Douglas Adams).

Starring Peter Davison, "The Kingmaker" is written by professional scriptwriter Nev Fountain, best known as writer of the radio comedy series "Dead Ringers" for BBC Radio 4. Not entirely by coincidence, the principal guest in this story is the star of "Dead Ringers", impressionist Jon Culshaw.

This is a historical serial in four episodes, concerning the murder by King Richard III of the Princes in the Tower, set mainly in the year 1485.

The Doctor is investigating the death of the Princes, a genuine historical mystery. He visits Shakespeare, in the 16th century, to learn as much background as he can from the author of the most famous play based on the life of Richard III, before taking the more dangerous step of a landing in 1485.

The serial contains many surprise twists - in fact, nothing but surprise twists.

He does solve the mystery, and without violating any of the known facts about Richard's reign. And the solution is both inventive and, frequently, humorous.

There is a superb performance from the actor playing King Richard, Stephen Beckett (who played Dr Matt Ramsden in "Coronation Street" on tv). And there is a strong supporting cast, including the comedian Arthur Smith (whose lugubrious, deadpan humour is a riot). And lots of cliff-hanger endings.

The serial runs 2 hours. But unlike some longer Doctor Who serials, I honestly noticed no padding: it was genuinely an edge-of-your-seat thriller all the way through.

While played perfectly straight, as a genuine drama, it is nevertheless the funniest Doctor Who serial I've ever heard: genuinely laugh-out-loud funny. The fact that the script is by a professional comedy writer is used to the very best advantage.

It has some elements which spoof "The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy" (there is a robot which evokes memories of Marvin, the Paranoid Android); it has William Shakespeare (complete with authentic cod-Birmingham accent); and it has King Richard himself (both the character in Shakespeare's play, and the actual king in 1485).

It also has Jon Culshaw doing, at one point, his famous impression of Tom Baker, to bring in some all-too-brief dialogue from the 4th Doctor. Culshaw also gives a first rate dramatic performance as one of King Richard's key advisers. I think Machiavellian is the term that springs to mind in best describing Culshaw's excellent characterisation as Earl Rivers.

The serial spirals backwards and forwards through time, in one of the most complex time-travel plots you will ever come across, but without ever losing track of the key elements of the story. Indeed, although based in part, at least in its humour, on an inspired paraody of the Michael J Fox "Back to the Future" movies, it manages to keep the audience aware at all times of where - and when - the characters are, and the reasons why.

By some feat of scriptwriter's magic, Nev Fountain manages to write a Tragedy, in which it is traditional for all the characters to perish in the final Act, while nevertheless achieving the traditional happy ending required by a Comedy. Against the odds, the Doctor and his companions do manage to survive: perhaps this is not completely unexpected. But, oddly, the anticipated high body-count doesn't quite materialise either, due to a resolution with more twists and turns in it than the average corkscrew.

Peter Davison is never less than completely authentic in his recreation of the 5th Doctor, in any Big Finish production. And here he also revels in a rare opportunity to expand the character, playing some humorous scenes.

Companion Nicola Bryant, who has a much bigger role here than was usual on television, is very much at the centre of the action, and handles the role with great aplomb: it must be quite difficult to convey smouldering sex-appeal without the obvious advantages of television, but she manages it!

Big Finish companion Erimem has, as ever, all the advantages of Caroline Morris's beautiful speaking voice: a big, big advantage in an audio play.

This production is conceived and executed on an enormous scale, hurtling back and forth across the centuries, meeting gigantic historical figures in very authentic settings, with a script that would have been worthy of Douglas Adams himself. This story is on a par with "City of Death".

Indeed, if scriptwriter Nev Fountain ever tires of topical comedy in "Dead Ringers", he has a great future in science fiction as the new Douglas Adams.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
Plot Rating:
10
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
10
Effects Rating:
10
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: traves8853Review Date: 11/25/15 10:35 am
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

The Kingmaker: Nev Fountain has written one of the most complex and detailed stories that's packed full of great ideas. It's not strictly a pure historical; it's not exactly a pseudo-historical, but it does have a strong vein of comedy running through it, yet conversely, I didn't find it all that amusing but did appreciate the lightheartedness of it all. This is as close to 'Blackadder' as 'Doctor Who' will ever get.

The Doctor has a publishing deal agreed but hasn't delivered on his promise of a manuscript. He decides to investigate King Richard the Third and the Princes in the tower. The story continually manages to wrong-foot you in the most ingenious and inventive ways.

This audio should get a ten just for the performance of Stephen Beckett as, 'King Richard the Third' alone. His unique blend of cunning scheming insouciant intimidation is just probably the best performance in Big Finish ever. There are lots of great characters in this and the interplay between Peri and Erimem is fantastic. This is partly because the perspective of the story keeps changing and showing events from their perspective rather than just having them disappear when they are not with the Doctor.

I did find it a bit hard to keep at times as there was so much going on and some of the voices were a little too similar, and there are lots of characters. Thankfully, a second listen is more of a bonus than a hindrance.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
5
Plot Rating:
NR
Acting Rating:
NR
Replay Rating:
NR
Effects Rating:
NR
Has Prerequisite(s):
Unsure
Reviewed By: YorickReview Date: 2/25/15 4:22 pm
0 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Didn't love it as much as the majority did but that's not to say it isn't very good as I enjoyed listening to it, despite the writer stealing a couple of gags from Blackadder II
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
Plot Rating:
9
Acting Rating:
9
Replay Rating:
9
Effects Rating:
10
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: kfb2014Review Date: 10/28/14 12:50 pm
5 out of 5 found this review helpful.

God this was hard work, not due to the nature of the drama in question, more to the fact that I spent over a week trying to get time to listen and appreciate this release. Essentially this is the story of the Doctor and his companion's passing each other like ships in the night, as Peri and Erimen take on the guise of barmaids and then un- assuming participants in the cover up of the actual circumstances of the Edward IV's two offspring and their time in the Tower of London, and subsequent disappearance. The Doctor is trying to track down and catch up with the two companions so that he can get them out of this time. It is important to point out that the premises of the story starts when the Doctor is caught out by Peri, after a robotic bailiff arrives in the TARDIS to see that Doctor makes good on completing another book in his Dr Who series for children.

This is a big fat adventure and although it runs roughly at the same time frame as most, it seems more like a boxed set story, with much more substance and physical story telling than what essentially is a monthly main release. All parts in this are excellent, and played exceptionally well. Peter is effortless, and puts in a wonderful and powerful performance without missing pace, or empathy, he is both dramatic when it is required, yet injects a dry pathos sadly lacking from the BBC days. The same is true of all the supporting cast with this adventure, what feels like a full theater cast of supporting actors also add to this adventure, all of which are first rate.

What is great about this above all else is essentially it takes what is believed to be current thinking on the Richard's taking of the throne, at the expense of the two offspring, for whom we believe were murdered in the tower by Richard or his accomplice. Add a massive Who SF dollop, and mix in William Shakespeare and the Master as well as you have as I said one BIG FAT ADVENTURE. Loved it, and although I started this article by saying that it was a struggle, at no point was it down to the story telling.
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