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The Silver Turk

In the latest from Big Finish, the Eighth Doctor returns to their main sequence of audio releases with a new companion - the writer Mary Shelley, who joined him in 1816, at the end of a short audio episode released in 2009, but whose adventures in the Tardis we had otherwise not seen or heard. This is an excellent start for the new team. The two pitch up in Vienna in 1873, where mysterious murders are taking place and a showman is demonstrating the marvellous Silver Turk, a metal humanoid that can play musical instruments and also chess. The cover picture makes it pretty clear that the Turk is in fact not merely a Cyberman but one of the original Mondas Cybermen from The Tenth Planet, and knowing that author Marc Platt had previously written what I still think is the best ever Big Finish audio, Spare Parts, which tells the story of the origin of the Cybermen on Mondas, I rather hoped we might be in for a treat.

And we are. Platt (who I think is the only writer for the classic series still contributing to any of the lines of Who) is always an intricate writer and sometimes over-reaches himself. But here he skilfully interrogates the relationship between the Cybermen and Frankenstein, not only Shelley's original novel but also the film versions (and there's a nod to King Kong as well). Platt (and Mary Shelley, as more-or-less viewpoint character) is actually rather sympathetic to the stranded Cybermen, who none the less are fundamentally inhuman; there is a brilliant scene in a church between the excellent Julie Cox as Mary Shelley and Nick Briggs as the stranded Gram (and generally the soundscape is pretty good). This is the best Cybermen story since Spare Parts (which itself is the best Cybermen story ever).

I listened again to "Mary's Story" from The Company of Friends before going on to The Silver Turk, and found that I liked it much more this time. I think it does help to appreciate The Silver Turk to hear the earlier short, and I see that BF are wisely offering it as a 99p download as a taster. All strongly recommended.

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