Doctor Who: Short Trips
Paul Spragg Memorial Short Trips Opportunity 2021
Written by: Joe Vevers
Directed by: Nicholas Briggs
Performed by: Jacob Dudman
Duration: 42 mins approx.
Chronology Placement: Set after “Boom Town”
Synopsis: Every night, a creature stalks the streets of Lichyrwick. Everyone in town knows that catching sight of it is a death sentence, and no one knows this better than Malcolm. Yet, he won’t be able to hide away much longer. The Doctor’s in town, and it’s time Malcolm finally faced the Lichyrwick Abomination. Even if it kills him.
Every year since 2016 Big Finish Productions has hosted an open submission writing contest in honour of their late colleague Paul Spragg who passed away suddenly in 2014, inviting unpublished writers to send in ideas for short Doctor Who audio dramas to be narrated by a single actor. The competition has produced some exciting and imaginative works, such as the excellent “Landbound”, “The Last Day at Work” and “Free Speech”. The quality of the writing and diversity of the stories have been absolutely amazing each year, and to make things even better, the stories are completely free to download.
“The Lichyrwick Abomination” is the sixth release in the series, and was published in December 2021. Written by Joe Vevers and narrated by Jacob Dudman, this adventure features the Ninth Doctor on a diversion to an eerie Scottish seaside town, whilst Rose and Jack are busy attending the Spice Girls 1998 Tour. Vevers’ script creates an effective sense of uneasiness about the setting and the mysterious ‘abomination’ that stalks the streets as night falls, evoking memories of the similarly-themed Torchwood adventure “Made You Look”. The sound design of this release is absolutely on point, capturing the ambience of the fishing town through subtle audio cues whilst also creating a sense of menace bubbling underneath the surface.
Audio chameleon Jacob Dudman performs double duties as the narrating lead character Malcolm and the Ninth Doctor, giving this story the feel of a Companion Chronicles release rather than a straight audiobook. Dudman’s Scottish lilt as Malcolm sounded utterly authentic to my ear, and his impersonation of the Ninth Doctor hits a lot more than it missed. There were plenty of moments where his version of the Ninth Doctor’s Northern twang combined with the dialogue to deliver lines that rang true for the character.
The Short Trips format works best when the Doctor is a secondary character who comes into the life of the lead and leaves it inexplicably changed – and that is effectively what happens here. Vevers script provides a bit of insight into the Ninth Doctor and his knack for sniffing out trouble – the key themes of the story revolve around the idea of grief and self-forgiveness; all wrapped up in a timey-wimey paradox. This makes it a fitting story for the Ninth Doctor, still healing from the Time War and his role in its conclusion, although the script doesn’t rely too heavily on that comparison.
Despite its evocative title, “The Lichyrwick Abomination” is less of an action piece and more of a character study about the effects of “survivor’s guilt”. Vevers crafts a compelling mystery regarding the anachronistic side-effects of the abomination’s presence in the town, but his script excels when it comes to the quieter and emotional sequences. Once Big Finish paired that strong writing debut with Jacob Dudman’s vocal talents and Nicholas Briggs’ keen directorial eye, it should come as no surprise that it all adds up to another fantastic addition to their Short Trips catalogue.
Score – ★★★★ ½
Doctor Who: The Lichyrwick Abomination is available from Big Finish as a free digital download.