The Tenth Doctor Chronicles review (audio)


Big Finish

In The Tenth Doctor Chronicles, we’re given four different stories, as narrated by Jacob Dudman. Do both the stories and Dudman’s performance live up to the legacy of the Tenth Doctor?

Following up last year’s Ninth Doctor Chronicles, Big Finish have released a brand new set of narrated stories. This time focusing on David Tennant’s Doctor, The Tenth Doctor Chronicles features Jacob Dudman on narration.

As someone known for his incredible impressions of New Series Doctors, this means that he also gets to voice the Tenth Doctor, too. But is this enough to make us forget that Tennant isn’t involved in this release?

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The answer is a definitive “yes”. Jacob Dudman’s rendition of the Tenth Doctor’s voice is more than simply uncanny. It’s a voice that sounds completely authentic. Not just in terms of pitch, but in the vocal mannerisms, too.

More than that, Dudman also does an excellent job narrating these stories, and for providing extra voices when necessary. Which is quite often. The format of the Doctor Chronicles only allows for one other cast member per story, after all.

Thankfully, Dudman more than rises to the task of providing multiple voices. He’s able to make each voice sound distinctive, and he clearly has a lot of fun in the role. Big Finish really did find the perfect voice for this set of stories.

The Taste of Death

The first story in the set, The Taste of Death, is set during Series Two, with Rose as the companion. The story initially presents itself as your typical Doctor Who mystery. The Doctor and his companion arrive somewhere. They find out something’s wrong and discover people are going missing. Naturally, they’re keen to investigate why.

But writer and director Helen Goldwyn adds plenty more meat to the story, too. In The Taste of Death, she explores themes of exploitation, slavery and forced feeding.

What’s really satisfying about this story is how these themes are explored while the plot continues to develop. She’s able to write an intriguing mystery with evil villains. But she also explores some interesting and challenging themes as a natural part of the plot. And The Taste of Death never falls into the trap of feeling rushed. It’s a nicely paced story that gets The Tenth Doctor Chronicles to a great start.


Backtrack is set considerably later. Featuring Martha, and set firmly in the first half of Series Three, the Doctor and Martha land on a ship that uses time-travel for leisure cruises.

Understandably, the Doctor is very unhappy upon finding out that something as important as time travel is used for commercial purposes. But when he finds out exactly how reckless the owner of the ship is, things start to get rapidly worse!

What really leaps out about Backtrack is how well Martha is used in the story. While Series Three never forgot that she was a medical student, the larger focus for her character was her unrequited love for the Doctor.

Certainly, her medical skills were never focused on quite as much as in Backtrack. Here, she’s put in a situation where she’s under heavy pressure. Many lives are at risk, and she has to find a way of saving every one of them. So putting Martha in a high pressure medical situation is really fantastic to hear. Particularly as it feels like she’s gained some key character development by the end.

Backtrack also features fellow impressionist Jon Culshaw as the shady business owner, Nathan Hobb. Not only does he play the role really well, but it’s also great to hear him opposite Dudman again, after previously working together on a reenactment of The Great Curator. Even more so when you hear them in behind the scenes interviews that are included on this release.

Jake Dudman narrates the Tenth Doctor Chronicles. (Credit: Big Finish)

Wild Pastures

Wild Pastures gives the Doctor a rather unusual companion. And frankly, it’s one he doesn’t want: Donna’s mother, Sylvia Noble.

Interestingly, this one is written by James Goss, who also wrote Retail Therapy for The Ninth Doctor Chronicles. Like Wild PasturesRetail Therapy also featured a companion’s mother. In that story’s case, Jackie Tyler.

However, Sylvia is a very different woman to Jackie, and James Goss is completely aware of this. In interviews for both releases, he clearly loves Jackie, and it’s not hard to see why. Whatever her shortcomings, Jackie Tyler clearly loved her daughter, and always wanted the best for her.

Sylvia Noble, on the other hand, was a mother who always knew best. Across Series Four, you hardly heard any love or respect from Sylvia to Donna. Just her constant “advice”, to put it mildly.

Featuring a character who’s so clearly unlikable for a story is a bold move, to say the least. But thankfully, Goss handles Sylvia really well. In fact, it seems that he had plenty of fun writing her. Because he avoids finding any massive redemption for the character. Instead, he lets her be nasty, and uses that for comedy. And it’s very effective comedy, too.

However, equally important is that she really does help to develop the story. Especially when she’s put into the position of looking after the Doctor.

Again, it should be stressed that Sylvia doesn’t “improve” by the end. After all, she only showed hints of redemption from Journey’s End. But Wild Pastures works really well, overall. And that’s thanks to both the strong writing of James Goss, and of course, Jacqueline King’s excellent performance as Sylvia.

Last Chance

Featuring the return of Lady Christina de Souza, Last Chance is an interesting story by Guy Adams. It focuses on something less high stakes than your usual Doctor Who plot – in this case, animal hunting. The Doctor is trying to save as many animals from extinction as possible, and he needs Lady Christina’s help to do it.

The story works for two reasons. First, it’s clear that Guy Adams is really passionate about this subject matter. However, at the same time, he also avoids being preachy about it in his writing. Instead, he allows for a straightforward adventure shared between the Doctor and Christina.

This leads me to the other reason Last Chance works so well. Namely, its focus on the Doctor’s and Christina’s relationship. The pair are written really well in this story. Possibly better than in Christina’s first appearance, Planet of the Dead. In that story, it was a little too obvious that she was meant to be the “perfect companion” to the Doctor.

In Last Chance, however, there’s more of a reluctance there, for both characters. Christina really wants to join the Doctor on his travels. But she also doesn’t want to face rejection again. And the Doctor makes it clear from the start that he’s still not looking for a companion. But this time, for rather different reasons than before.

A strong set

To sum up, The Tenth Doctor Chronicles is another great box set from Big Finish. For all four stories, the writers have taken the restricted format of just two cast members per story, and given us plenty of satisfying drama and themes to explore. They all fit perfectly into their respective eras, and the fact that all stories take place at different points in the Tenth Doctor’s life gives us a nice amount of variation, too.

Next: Doctor Who retro review: The Romans (First Doctor story)

Lastly, it has to be stated once again just how perfect a choice Jacob Dudman is for this set. He brings a lot of skill when reading these stories, and you do find it very easy to forget that it’s not Tennant himself. Not only is it clear that he’s a huge fan of the Tenth Doctor. He’s also a man with a lot of talent. Here’s hoping that Big Finish use him a lot more in the future.