Doctor Who review: The Final Game begins as a very strong fan-made tribute to the Pertwee era

The Third Doctor’s final confrontation with the Master has now been brought to life in The Final Game, thanks to some very dedicated Doctor Who fans. And the story begins with a very strong start.

Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of fan projects based on Doctor Who out there. Whether it’s written fan fiction, fan films or even a fan-made anime, there are a vast number of projects out there that are a testament to the creativity of fandom. Heck, even Big Finish Productions had their roots in Audio Visuals, which specialized in completely unlicensed Doctor Who audios.

This brings me to something that, in the vast wealth of fan creativity out there, really caught my eye. The Final Game. If you’re a fan of the Pertwee era, you may be familiar with that name. It was the name of the story originally intended to be the Third Doctor’s final adventure, with the Master playing a key role. However, the story was abandoned altogether due to the sudden death of Roger Delgado, and Pertwee’s Doctor was given his exit in Planet of the Spiders, instead. Unsurprisingly, there’s never been any attempt to make the story in any medium.

Until now.

Black Glove Studio and Studio Severn have aimed to turn the original storyline into a full-cast, fan-made audio production. Just a few days ago, they released the first episode, (which, as you can see below, you can listen to in full right now,) and so far, it’s looking incredibly promising.

The cast

For one thing, the cast do a really good job of playing the characters. While not all of them sound exactly like the original characters, they all do a great job of capturing the mannerisms at the very least.

Unsurprisingly, there are some standout performances. Marshall Tankersley does an amazing job of playing Jon Pertwee’s Doctor, and strikes the right balance between getting the voice and the vocal mannerisms of the character just right. Richard Gurl is also fantastic as Sergeant Benton, who sounds so much like John Levene that it’s uncanny, and Denise Sutton does an equally great job as Liz Shaw.

But I think the standout performance is Terry Cooper as the Master. It’s very difficult to capture the spirit of Delgado’s performance – even Big Finish haven’t found an actor to play Delgado’s incarnation specifically – but Cooper gets it just right. Like Tankersley’s rendition of Pertwee’s Doctor, Cooper gets the class and the charm of the character exactly right. We don’t hear a great deal of him in this opening episode, but it’s enough to leave us wanting more from future installments.

This is a story that pays as much tribute to Delgado’s legacy as it does to Pertwee’s.
(Image credit: Doctor Who/BBC.
Image obtained from: official Doctor Who website.)

Story and production

The story gets off to an intriguing start. One thing that instantly drew my eye to this project is that it’s written by Chris McKeon. McKeon also wrote Time’s Champion, an excellent unlicensed Doctor Who novel that provided an epic take on the Sixth Doctor’s final adventure.

So finding out that McKeon was on writing duties for this particular production already made me excited for it. And so far, it hasn’t disappointed me. The first hour is extremely promising. It doesn’t rush into anything, but it doesn’t drag too much either, and lets us know that this final confrontation is going to be an epic one.

Finally, I need to comment on the production of this story. It’s really strong stuff, especially for an audio production that hasn’t been made for profit. The sound design is especially effective. Even while you can work out when an actor’s lines had been recorded separately, it’s still extremely impressive as a whole.

The first part of The Final Game is an extremely well-made episode, and one that’s clearly been made with a lot of love. If the high level of quality is maintained for the entire story, then we’re going to be getting something very special, and I can’t wait until the next episode.

Are you intrigued to listen to The Final Game? Have you heard of the previously unmade story before? Do you wish this story had been made on television? Let us know in the comments below.