Review: Doctor Who – Immortal Beloved

Immortal BelovedIf you’ve been a Doctor Who fan for long enough, you’re probably a bit of a Nigella by now. Take any new Doctor Who story and in an instant you can come up with the recipe used to make it.

Immortal Beloved‘s quite an easy one:

  • 25% Mawdryn Undead
  • 25% State of Decay
  • 50% The Romans.

Ta da!

Are you impressed? Thought not.

Anyway, despite being relatively easy to pin down, Immortal Beloved‘s a reasonable addition to the new BBC7 range of eighth Doctor stories. Better than Horror of Glam Rock, not as good as Blood of the Daleks, it still has some interesting, slightly sicko ideas and some good performances. Apart from son of Who’s, that is, but we’ll get onto that later.

Plot (pretending to be original, but actually stolen quite obviously from the BBC’s web site)

The Doctor and Lucy land in Ancient Greece: a world of gods, romance and helicopters!

Is it any good?

As mentioned, we have some delightfully nasty ideas, familiar to anyone who’s seen The Island (or The Clonus Horror), but given a Doctor Who twist. They make you think; they make you feel a bit poorly: what more could you want? There are a couple of entirely reasonable continuity references, there’s good characterisation for the Doctor and you sort of care what happens to the received pronunciation Greeks. It’s not one of those stories that will forever change the way you look at Doctor Who; it drags a little in the middle; you might wonder exactly why people with spaceships and other high technology also have helicopters and band aids; and there are the usual slightly misguided departures into humour at the wrong moments. But it’s at least a seven out of 10 on the clapometer of life.

Performances, now. Paul McGann gives his best turn of the series so far, imbuing the Doctor an air of moral authority and leadership he’s been missing for a while – clearly he’s feeling comfortable in the role again and enjoying himself. Sheridan Smith is now channelling Janet from Two Pints?��Ǩ�� 24/7 by the sounds of it, though, a situation not helped by the dialogue she’s been given, which might as well have come straight from Sue Nickson’s dialogue generation software. Veteran actors Ian McNeice and Elspet Gray are fantastic in their roles, the younger guest cast less so.

Then there’s Jake “Son of Paul” McGann. It would be a little churlish to slate his performance, given this was his first acting role after been hired on the spot during a visit to the set to see his dad at work. But if there were a sixth ancient Greek element to complement air, water, earth, fire and aether, it would have to be wood. Still, he’s promising enough and is only likely to get better in due course, assuming he sticks with this acting lark.

All in all then, an entertaining standalone piece that’s not instantly forgettable, unlike certain episodes of the TV series.

PS: There were no references to the Headhunter or the ongoing witness protection/Time Lord plot arc, so still not quite sure where all that’s going.

Listen to the episode (RealPlayer – only until Sunday 29th January 2007!). You can buy it on CD from the Big Finish web site from April.


The Doctor (Paul McGann)

Lucie Miller (Sheridan Smith)

Zeus (Ian McNeice)

Hera (Elspet Gray)

Sararti (Jennifer Higham)

Kalkin (Anthony Spargo)

Tayden (David Dobson)

Ganymede (Jake McGann)

Writer: Jonathan Clements

Price: ?Ǭ�10.99 (?Ǭ�11.50 international customers)