Doctor Who: The Hunting Ground - Audio drama review
The Doctor arrives in present-day Iceland and receives a frosty reception from Inspector Yrsa Kristjansdottir when he becomes the chief suspect in a murder enquiry. But the Doctor knows that the real killer is of extraterrestrial origin. Joining forces with Yrsa, the Doctor goes in pursuit of a ruthless alien that is hunting humans for sport. Yrsa unearths a dark conspiracy which reaches back into her own past. Determined to expose the truth and prevent further deaths, the Doctor and Yrsa soon find themselves running for their lives, prey on the hunting ground…
Released at the same time as Muse of Fire, The Hunting Ground is another stand-alone adventure, this one featuring the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker). And that’s not the only bit of doubling-up you will find here…
Author AK Benedict began her professional writing career as a crime novelist, with her debut The Beauty of Murder in 2014. It turns out that she’s also a massive fan of the Sixth Doctor, as she reveals during 15 minutes of interviews at the end of Disc Two. She brings these two specialisms together in The Hunting Ground, giving us a story that blends crime fiction with science fiction.
It starts off like Nordic Noir, focusing on a determined Icelandic police inspector (played with total conviction by Amy Beth Hayes) investigating grisly killings amid the snowy wilderness. During the course of the first episode, however, the plot gradually reveals its sci-fi colours, and only gets more outlandish from there. Colin Baker seems to be having a whale of a time as his Doctor discusses the Huldufólk (hidden people) of Icelandic mythology and interacts with cyborg wolves, an alien hunter not unlike the Predator, and a nerdy, two-headed admin clerk. The latter character, called Marfick, comes across less like Douglas Adams’s Zaphod Beeblebrox than a double-act from the pen of Robert Holmes or Eric Saward, as his two heads do not get along and bicker with each other constantly.
There are two types of doubling-up going on among the guest cast. Michael Griffiths sounds completely different in his two roles as the Hunter and Yrsa’s beloved father Kristjan. I have to say, he would also make a great stand-in for any voice work that John Hurt might previously have been hired for, because in the latter role Griffiths is a dead ringer for the late War Doctor. Almost as remarkable is the casting of Marfick. Though the administrator’s two heads are played by different actors (Joe Jameson and Will Hislop), their performances and tones of voice are so in sync with each other that I automatically assumed that both voices were coming from a single actor (or perhaps from twins).
Meanwhile, musician Steve Foxon’s moody incidental score heightens the 1980s vibe by conjuring up echoes of Vangelis and Roger Limb.
The Hunting Ground gets a warm rather than a frosty reception from me, and is well worth hunting down.
Doctor Who: The Hunting Ground
Starring: Colin Baker
Publisher: Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78178 841 7 (CD)
Release Date: 31 January 2019