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A superb evocation of Old Historicals...

By:Matthew David Rabjohns, Bridgend, United Kingdom
Date:Saturday 30 September 2017
Rating:   10

As a massive fan of the Early Adventures of Big Finish, I am always particularly looking forward to the plainly historical adventures. I am a massive fan of them and they have always been brilliant. And then along comes the Night Witches and to me this was an absolute winner of a tale. The first Doctor Who script for Big Finish by newcomer Roland Moore is absolutely superb.

In this story, as with all other historicals, the focus is wisely more on character. And here the heart of the Russian Night Witches unit is brought to life brilliantly by unusually an entirely female cast, with only the reliable Frazer Hines and Elliot Chapman as Ben along for the ride! And every single actress in this story is amazing.

Firstly Anneke Wills truly gets to shine with a superb part given to her, more in the helpful vein of her more prominent role in the Highlanders on TV than say the Underwater Menace where she is a little dumbed down and even silly. But not so here. Here Polly is the centrepiece of the whole story, as she is the doppleganger of one of the Night Witches.

Wanda Opolinska is amazing as Nadia the leader of the Night Witches, and she turns out to be quite calculating and devious. Willing to use Polly to her own ends in an attempt to foil the German Panzer advance at Stalingrad in 1942. Here the sound design has to be praised, cause this really feels like youre in a snowbound wilderness with a lonely ill equipped team of women fighting to stave off the Germans with resources dwindling. Needless to say there is a mass of superb emotion woven throughout this story too.

Scenes where Polly and Ben are thinking the Doctor and Jamie are dead are particularly moving, as the pair wonder what they will do to survive if they cant find or fly the TARDIS properly. This story really does have some great moments also between Kristina Buikate’s Lilya, and you can almost feel the two of them getting quite close at one point, and that maybe Ben’s eye has been taken by someone else other than his duchess for once.

The finale is cranked up to an explosive amount of brilliance. The story is not once plodding or stilted, the characters are all extremely convincing and superbly performed by all involved. I hope that we are to get more second doctor historical audio adventures. If they even only half as good as the Night Witches, then they will be superb indeed.
The Night Witches is a really satisfying and brilliantly gritty and endearing war story for the TARDIS team!
For people who really love the historicals, then I cant recommend this story enough. Its incredibly enjoyable and a great start to the second series of Second Doctor early adventures indeed!

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