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The Crimes of Thomas Brewster

My expectations were low of this month's Big Finish main sequence release, The Crimes of Thomas Brewster, mainly because I was never impressed by the eponymous character, played by soap heart-throb John Pickard in three Fifth Doctor stories in 2008 and then as one of the Three Companions whose story was released episodically by Big Finish in 2009-10. But actually it was not bad at all: there wasn't too much Brewster in it, in any case Pickard seems to have raised his game significantly, and the Sixth Doctor / Evelyn Smythe interaction is hugely lifted by the reintroduction of Anna Hope as Mancunian police detective Patricia Menzies, after her appearance in two 2008 Big Finish plays also with Colin Baker but set later in the Sixth Doctor's continuity; and David Troughton turns up as a wonderfully gravel-voiced East End crime boss. The story is basically a standard alien invasion of contemporary London, with the point being to get Brewster back in the regular cast for the next two stories, but there is some quite clever stuff with working out what people actually know about the Doctor, and who he is. And the cast seem well up for it (Maggie Stables gets to be the voice of an alien intelligence as well as her usual inimitable Evelyn). Reasonably accessible for non-fans, given that the three recurring characters other than the Doctor are from different places in Big Finish continuity and so need the background helpfully explained to them.

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