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< 8.2 - The Alchemists
8.4 - Ghost in the Machine >

8.3 - Upstairs

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7.3
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Reviewed By: KamelionReview Date: 3/23/19 7:00 am
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Location : London, 10 Downing Street
Date : 1900
Released : September 2013

When I first started to listen to Big Finish Doctor Who audios a few years ago I always skipped the Companion Chronicles assuming I would only enjoy full cast audio dramas with the original actors, blah blah. Boy was I wrong. The Upstairs CD came into my possession quite by accident as I believe I won it at an eBay auction for like $5 or something. It laid on my desk for months until one night I popped it in and figured I would try to endure this for 10 minutes to go to sleep. I could not stop listening. It felt like one of the old black and white tv episodes just one I had never seen. I had no idea that Maureen O'Brien and Peter Purves could do a ridiculously kick ass job of emulating William Hartnell's Doctor and the story was very interesting as well. Obviously they did Vicki and Steven in an excellent manner.

When Steven found the book called "A history of the inhabitants of 10 Downing Street" and started to read how 5 Prime Ministers died in the house in just 22 years I would have believed this was an historical as not being British I am not well versed on British history so the laugh was on me in the end, which I did appreciate.

You may wonder how being trapped in an attic could possibly constitute an hour long drama with two readers? Raw talent and a good story is how that works and whenever the Doctor can't find the TARDIS that's tense and exciting because that sucks. We always know he will but look at Doctor 3 being stuck on Earth when he could not operate the TARDIS. If the Doctor were to actually lose the TARDIS that's pretty much the ultimate disaster right?

This here little story and this pair of talents did open my eyes to the fact that Companion readings can be gripping and wonderful. I had not started to question yet why Big Finish would have a woman attempt to voice a male doctor when they have no male actors voicing women. Maureen O'Brien nails Doctor one so well that it's not even funny it's just amazing actually.

For anyone whom enjoys full cast audio dramas and may have little or no experience with Companion Chronicles where the story is read and partially dramatized, I have no reservations about suggesting Upstairs as a launching point as it really worked for me much to my surprise.


"The world's largest empire was orchestrated from this place here" -The Doctor

To which Vicki replies "From this dump?"

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Reviewed By: komodoReview Date: 1/9/19 12:47 am
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

An off beat story in which the time travellers get lost in the attic of number 10 that seems to be unstuck in time and being eaten by a giant fungus.

Totally bizarre, but to their credits Maureen and Peter demonstrate their confusion and frustration though their skilled performances.
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Reviewed By: kfb2014Review Date: 3/23/16 5:58 am
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Upstairs, is one of those Big Finish productions where you sort of get the feeling that the writer created this for something else then adapted it to fit snuggly around the whole Whovian concept. This to me felt like it was a failed episode of Sapphire and Steel, there are similes with that unforgettable first S&S episode of the house that is caught in time between the past and the present. This pretty much falls into that category, due to it’s use of the idea of time being caught, however, the twist with this which makes it more Dr Who than S&S is that we have a time munching fungal menace on the prowl in the house, and not any old house but No.10 Dowing Street, the home of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. There are a lot of jokes that could be wrought here, none of them alas have been. However, the construct of the story is novel, and somewhat familiar but works well, with Purvis on fine form as both Steven and the characterisation of the first Doctor it plays out well, for a welcome addition to the Companion Chronicles. I especially like how Matt Coward the writer has bought in the idea of the fungal menace could be creeping into the TARDIS and as such if it enters the TARDIS, then, it could spread to all time and space, within the VORTEX, so stopping this will prevent the destruction of basically everything. So no sweat there then Steven. Maureen O'Brien provides both narration and foil for Peter’s character much as she did within the T.V and adds I think to the overall quality of the story very, very well. I enjoyed this, not quite on the same form as other previous to this within the range, but nevertheless a wonderful addition.
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Reviewed By: traves8853Review Date: 11/15/15 9:46 am
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

'Upstairs' involves the Tardis landing in a large labyrinthian attic that like the Tardis seems to unfurl endlessly, until the Tardis crew realise that they are moving through time whilst running on the spot. They eventually discover a large ominously pulsating alien fungus being worshipped by the servants of the house. Written by Matt Coward, directed by Lisa Bowerman; narrated by Peter Purves and Maureen O'Brien.

Firstly, Maureen proved in 'Frostfire' she is a skilled narrator and was able to relays the grouchiness of Hartnell's Doctor by mimicking the tone of his voice rather than trying to vocally contort voice into areas it just won't go naturally, but Peter Purves has shown that he can at least do a passable impersonation of the Doctor's first incarnation. Why Big Finish insists on puncturing the atmosphere by unnecessarily asking female actor's to voice male parts is beyond me. We don't hear male actors trying to replicate female ones, it just doesn't convince. Apart from this, the acting is very good as you would expect but I don't hear the enthusiasm in the voices that I did with the ranges earlier offerings.

For me the setting doesn't help either, it's hard to create the kind of vivid imagery with metaphors for a dusty old attic, which turns out to belong to 10 Downing Street circa 1900, and the nemesis is a type of fungus that in some unexplained fashion can assert its will over others. Early on in the second part the Doctor states that the servants wouldn't cause them any harm, they would just leave them wandering helplessly in the attics. So, it uses its foot soldiers as mouth pieces and is a bit of a pacifist, depriving us of any real menace. It does however lead to a rather amusing sequence where the Doctor, Vick and Steven start rioting in the attics, committing mindless vandalism and emitting Comanche war cries. With such low stakes to play for this fails to be truly interesting, the setting robs us of atmosphere. The plot isn't able to offer us much in the way of mystery either. The resolution is overly simplistic and convoluted.

There are some nice flourishes such as the Doctor's explanation of how the Tardis's food machine rearranges the molecular structure of fungi grown in vats in the Tardis's laboratories to create the food it dispenses, or the tales of hauntings possible being inspired by the Tardis crews' rampage through the Downing Street attics, but on the whole, this feels tired and laboured, although it does at least try and offer us something new.