Review: The Companion Chronicles – The Catalyst

The CatalystAm I getting soft or are the Big Finish plays getting better? It just seems like there’s been a fair few of late that have been pretty good rather than tedious and incomprehensible (bar any eighth Doctor story with Lucie in it).

Anyway, we’ve reached the last of the second season of The Companion Chronicles, Big Finish’s audio book range in which old companions read stories because the Doctors in question are MIA. After Steven, Jamie and the Brigadier, we now have Leela as the companion of choice for Tom Baker. Like Romana II before her, you’d have thought the Gallifrey range of stories would have mined Leela’s character pretty thoroughly by now.

But we haven’t, because there’s always the question of what happened to Leela after Gallifrey – both the series and the planet.


The pride of the Z’nai matches that of Leela of the Sevateem. Why would the Doctor imprison one in such an unlikely place, and what terrors will be brought about by letting it loose?

Is it any good?

It is actually. Okay, so Louise Jameson’s accent tends towards EastEnders at times, she can’t do a Tom Baker impression at all and you’ll be left with more than a few questions by the end of it (how exactly did Leela become ‘the catalyst’ being the most glaring). And I don’t know about you but I could happily go the rest of my life without hearing the words “Janis Thorn” again.

But other than that, it’s really very good. It’s a dark and pretty original piece of work, full of death and interesting concepts (how far would the Doctor go to stop evil from being done? And what if he and his companion disagreed?). It fits in well with season 16 and captures both the fourth Doctor’s and Leela’s characters well.

Jameson turns out to be more versatile than many have given her credit for. Timothy Watson is a suitably creepy adversary. And, of course, it does answer the “what happened to Leela next?” question.

At £8.99, it’s worth the price – no download version that I could find, though. The best of the second series of Companion Chronicles by far.

How much should you have to pay?

Actual price: £8.99

Actual worth: £8.99


Louise Jameson (Leela)

Timothy Watson

Writer: Nigel Fairs

Director: Nigel Fairs

Available from the Big Finish web site


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.