The Fourth Doctor and Leela meet Romans and Queen Boudica in The Wrath of the Iceni!
Following on from our reviews of The Fires of Pompeii, The Fires of Vulcan and The Romans, we have one more Doctor Who story set in the time of the Roman Empire to review. And The Wrath of the Iceni is a really fantastic story.
On television, the Fourth Doctor never had any pure historical stories. Thankfully, both Big Finish and John Dorney have somewhat fixed this. And while we don’t have pure historical stories these days, The Wrath of the Iceni still feels very modern.
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It’s not just the fact that it’s told in just an hour. A faster pace helps somewhat, certainly. But it’s more to do with the drama, especially when it’s focused on Leela. And that’s what really makes The Wrath of the Iceni such a compelling listen, as this story truly explores Leela in a much deeper way than on television.
Leela and Boudica
When Leela meets Queen Boudica, she believes that she and the Doctor should help her. So when the Doctor tells Leela that they can’t save Boudica, Leela is understandably shocked. Especially when she finds out exactly what the Romans did to Boudica and her family.
As you can imagine, with the companion wanting to change something that should remain unchanged, there are echoes of The Fires of Pompeii with this story.
But thankfully, The Wrath of the Iceni has no monsters to distract from its core drama. At least, not of the alien kind. Instead, it focuses on all too human monsters. There’s a really dark and violent edge to The Wrath of the Iceni. It works tremendously well for it.
There are also really strong performances involved, too. In particular, Louise Jameson and Ella Kenion, who play Leela and Boudica, respectively, have some fantastic scenes together. Of course, Tom Baker is always great to listen to, but it’s hearing Leela’s and Boudica’s friendship that really draws you in.
The Wrath of the Iceni is a story of complex moral dilemmas, and even more complex characters. Nothing’s black and white in this world. And the relationship between Leela and Boudica is very much at the center of it.
The Wrath of the Iceni is not just a great Fourth Doctor story. It also feels like a key template of how to tell a decent historical for a modern audience. Well worth a listen for fans of historical stories and great drama.