With it being LGBT Month on GallifreyArchive, we decided to get in touch with Big Finish to see how they could help. Thankfully, Joe at Big Finish was kind enough to gift us a trilogy of old Companion Chronicles; The Perpetual Bond, The Cold Equations and The First Wave, as the First Doctor is joined by an LGBT character. Today, we review the first story in the trilogy; The Perpetual Bond.
When the TARDIS materializes in a familiar junkyard in the 1960s, the Doctor and Steven are soon embroiled in a mystery in the City of London. Who are the mysterious bowler-hatted businessmen with their deadly umbrellas? And what secret is young Oliver Harper desperately trying to conceal?
Contracts have been signed. A deal is in place. And the Doctor discovers that perhaps not even he can stop a terrible business…
Straight from the off, we’re introduced to Oliver Harper, amidst some very ’60s spy-ish music. Oliver Harper himself is in the Stock Market business, a fairly ruthless sounding man. It seems as if Mr. Harper is in trouble with the law. Tom Allen’s performance, both as a narrator and as Oliver Harper is brilliant; he has a very crisp British accent, which seems to fit in with the whole RP (Received Pronunciation) nature of the 1960s.
After the credits, we’re reunited with Stephen Taylor, played by Peter Purves (who once stood next to me at a urinal in the ExCel) as he recalls the death of Sara Kingdom. There’s a scene with the Doctor and Stephen in the TARDIS, almost immediately after the loss of Sara, which is so silent and sombre, that it’s haunting. Of course, the Doctor and Stephen don’t have time to reflect on their loss, as the TARDIS seems to dematerialise without the Doctor doing anything.
Once the TARDIS lands, the Doctor immediately knows where the TARDIS has taken them; Totters Lane. The Doctor wonders whether the TARDIS brought both him and Stephen to Totters Lane just so they could see Ian and Barbara, as a recompense for the tragic events that had just unfolded. I really appreciate how Simon Gurrier shows glimmers of the Doctor and the TARDIS’ special bond in the opening few minutes of the story, as it really does remind you that at the end of the day, after over 50 years, Doctor Who is still just the story of a boy and his box.
It’s not long before the Doctor and Stephen find themselves an alien on a bus. How very British. One thing I found utterly brilliant was how Stephen described all of the technology (or lack of) from a futuristic point of view. Coins are an absolute mystery, as are umbrellas; I loved it in the recent Second Doctor Companion Chronicles when we had Jamie being fascinated by technology, and now we have the polar opposite. It really goes to show just how broad a show Doctor Who is.
There’s a game of cat and mouse between the Doctor and Stephen and the alien, of course it’s not that easy. Stephen and the Doctor soon bump into Oliver, who has seemingly also seen the mushroom headed alien. And the mushroom headed alien seemingly isn’t alone. The Doctor tries to deduce as much as he can from the information that Oliver is able to give him.
Stephen and Oliver go investigating on the Trading Floor whilst the Doctor goes to see the illusive Mr. Flowers, and the Doctor seems to revel in the fact that they have a fairly solid plan in action. Oliver takes Stephen into a wardrobe to get changed into something that would be suitable on the Trading Floor and thinks that Stephen scrubs up quite well. I’m sure he does too. Hearing Oliver try and transform the futuristic Stephen into a ’60s trader is really entertaining. Who knew there were only three sports?
Stephen and Oliver find another alien on the Trade Floor, working in cattle. But not the type of cattle like cows; a more personal, closer to home type of cattle. The Sycorax should have worked with these aliens.
Joining the Doctor, we get the opportunity to properly meet Mr. Flowers, who almost spells out his entire plan for helping trade on Earth after the Second World War. The idea that some members of the government are in on it too is really interesting, as it gives the impression that this started out much less like an invasion, and more like an invitation. It seems that humanity needs these aliens to thrive in the economy. (Maybe now we’re out of the EU, they could join us again?)
The cliffhanger at the end of the first episode of The Perpetual Bond is rather odd if I’m being honest. There’s aliens hidden in plain sight that are trying to assassinate Oliver and Stephen, and nobody else can see what’s going on; there’s just a hell of a lot of confusion…
The second episode starts where the first left off, and things just got a lot worse for Stephen and Oliver, as the Doctor practically disowns Stephen for being so reckless. Luckily the pretence of the Doctor’s disownment doesn’t last too long, and Stephen has to attempt to know The Beatles. It’s a beautifully bizarre scene, it’s so Doctor Who.
Mr. Flowers is a brilliantly layered villain in this story; he’s not moustache twirling evil, like the Delgado Master, nor is he just a puppet; he’s just brilliant. I would have loved for a villain like this to have actually appeared in the televised adventures of the First Doctor, as it would have given William Hartnell something very different to act against; a villain with an understandable moral compass.
There’s a scene that is essentially a two-hander between the Doctor and Mr. Flowers which brilliantly highlights Flowers motivations and his selection process, I’m going to go out on a whim here and say that Mr. Flowers might be a tougher advisory to the Doctor than the Daleks were. The Daleks had no real rationale, they were unrelenting and pure evil; Mr. Flowers on the other hand is a businessman who treats humanity fairly well, considering the business he is in, and you can tell that it poses a real conundrum of what to do for the Doctor.
With this being Doctor Who, there’s inevitably death and pain close behind the Doctor, although, this time it’s not quite death and pain following him. More like… sleep.
The conclusion of The Perpetual Bond is obviously that of a victory, as is pretty much every episode of Doctor Who, but it’s something different. The alien invasion was brought to a close by someone you didn’t expect and this is one of the stories that can be known as introducing a new companion into the TARDIS. Welcome aboard Oliver Harper. But is all as it seems..?
Oliver Harper has a secret.
Should you want to purchase The Perpetual Bond, it’s currently available from Big Finish for £8.99 on CD or a £7.99 download which you can purchase here.