Review: Doctor Who – Assassin in the Limelight

Big Finish - Assassin in the Limelight

It’s a bit hard to know what to say about this one other than, "Ho, hum, another Sixth Doctor and Evelyn story."

To a certain extent, that’s because the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn stories seem to have fallen into a rut of late. The Doctor and Evelyn (who’s a history professor, you know) land in the past somewhere. They find something oddly out of sync with local history. They discover a boogly woogly thing is responsible. They fix it in a non-threatening, slightly slow and old manner while bickering in an old people "out on a day trip from a rest home" sort of way. The end.

Come on guys. Get your verve back. You had it once.

Unfortunately, Assassin in the Limelight follows closely in this rut since it employs a previous rut co-habittee’s villain (or is it villains?) – Leslie Phillips’s Dr Robert Knox, last seen being mean to the slow-witted David Tennant in Medicinal Purposes. The Doctor and Evelyn’s mission this time: stop John Wilkes Booth from being assassinated. (Ed: shurley shome mishtake?)

Ford’s Theatre, Washington. Friday, 14th April, 1865. The assassination of Abraham Lincoln

The place, the date and the event which made history. Or did it? Someone has been tampering with time, muddying the waters of history for his own purposes. Time itself is out of joint and the chief culprit is the enigmatic Doctor Knox.

Somehow the Doctor and Evelyn must put history back on track before the future dissolves into chaos. But Knox, it turns out, may be the least of their worries…

Is it any good?
It’s a bit tedious to be honest. At two CDs, it’s simply too long and should have been one of those three episodes + one episode double headers that Big Finish had started doing.

Despite the cast, the setting and the ideas of the play, there’s very little excitement to it. It’s more like a series of "aren’t we clevers?" Yes, they’ve done their research, everyone’s using slang of the time and it’s historically accurate n’all. It’s all very nicely structured, too, and there are some clever ideas as the Doctor and Evelyn navigate the various double-crosses set up by Knox.

But every time you hope, say, that Evelyn’s going to have to assassinate the president, some far less exciting option pops up, usually involving someone turning up to interrupt things. It’s just boring.

There’s nothing really desperately wrong with it apart from that: the cast’s good, the sound design’s good, the direction’s good. It’s simply too long and too mundane to really lift it out of the ordinary.

How much should you have to pay?
Actual price: £14.99 (£12.99 download); £9.89 at
Actual worth: £6

Colin Baker (The Doctor)
Maggie Stables (Dr Evelyn Smythe)
Leslie Phillips (Dr Robert Knox)
Lysette Anthony (Clara Harris)
Eric Loren (John Parker)
Madeleine Potter (Lizzie Williams)
Alan Marriott (Henry Clay Ford)
Paul Dubois (John Wilkes Booth)
Mikey O’Connor (Thomas Eckert)

Writer: Robert Ross
Director: Barnaby Edwards

Available from or from the almost acceptable Big Finish web site