The Twelfth Doctor (if not Peter Capaldi himself, sadly,) makes his Big Finish debut with the short story, Doctor Who: The Astrea Conspiracy, as read by Madame Vastra herself, Neve McIntosh!
It could be a long time until we get to hear Peter Capaldi feature in a Doctor Who audio by Big Finish, if he ever returns to the role at all. I hope he does, because honestly, he was my favorite Doctor of the New Series, (especially after Heaven Sent,) and it would be a shame if he never played the Twelfth Doctor again in any format.
But while Capaldi might not be back any time soon, that isn’t stopping Big Finish from telling stories with his Doctor. They’ve had the rights for everything up to Twice Upon a Time for a while, but now, we’re finally getting our first ever Twelfth Doctor story from Big Finish!
Admittedly, The Astrea Conspiracy isn’t a huge story to kick off his era on audio. Which is just as well, as it’s a Short Trip, and these stories usually work best when they’re relatively small and don’t try to do too much. And The Astrea Conspiracy is definitely a nice little story.
The story focuses on Aphra Behn, as she works for Charles II on a spying mission. However, something has gone very wrong: while she had planned to reunite with her former lover William Scot, instead, she encounters a strange and seemingly mad Scottish man claiming that he’s trying to help put history back on track…
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I must admit, I had never heard of Aphra Behn before listening to this story. But it’s certainly a fascinating introduction to her: a woman who was once a spy and ended up becoming a hugely influential poet and playwright, among other things. Lizbeth Myles has written about a fascinating and hardly explored historical figure and brings her to life brilliantly, while also telling a very entertaining Doctor Who story.
Neve McIntosh, who many of you know best as Madame Vastra, does an excellent job of reading the story. For both Behn and the Doctor, she performs both of the characters wonderfully well. She captures the voice and mannerisms of Capaldi’s Doctor just right, while also giving a great performance as Behn, a brilliant woman trying to do a job and getting stuck with a very strange man who’s “trying to help”, for some reason.
Overall, this is a nice and easy listen, but also one that brings history to life in a satisfying way, while also reminding us why Capaldi’s Doctor was so fantastic. Once again, another enjoyable little story from the Short Trips range.
Have you listened to The Astrea Conspiracy? Are you hoping for more stories featuring Capaldi’s Doctor? Do you think he will ever return to the role, even for Big Finish? Let us know in the comments below.