(WARNING: Significant spoilers follow!)
This is the last Big Finish audio story to feature actress Caroline John, who died a few months ago (sadly becoming one of four major Who actors to die in the last two years). John played the character of Liz Shaw in a mere four stories at the start of the Third Doctor’s era. Despite appearing in so few tales, the character remained popular, and has been in several Big Finish audios, as well as other bits of spinoff fiction.
This final story takes the form of a series of letters being sent back and forth between Shaw and her mother (Rowena Cooper). These letters make references to most of the TV stories Shaw appeared in, and the final part seems to take place just before her last TV story, “Inferno”.
In this story, people have been receiving letters saying something to the effect of “We regret to inform you that your death is scheduled for tomorrow at one pm.” This is then followed by them, in fact, dying as the letter claims they would. Things get even nastier for poor Liz and Emily Shaw when the latter receives a letter of her own.
This is, in many ways, a nice goodbye to Liz and to Caroline John. The story flows smoothly and has some nice tension. The “letters” format really works well for the series, getting it past the “nothing but narration” sort of Companion Chronicle that I tend to dislike. I also very much enjoyed all the references to the early Third Doctor’s era (especially as I’ve been watching “Ambassadors of Death” lately).
John does her usual excellent job as Shaw, and it’s a real pity we won’t ever hear her perform the character again. I always rather liked Liz, limited though her role on the series was, and I’m pleased that, for lack of a better phrase, she goes out on a high note here. Cooper’s performance as Emily Shaw was also excellent, and I’m rather sad that we’re not likely to ever hear from her character again.
Overall, if you’re a fan of the Third Doctor’s era in general, something this audio does a splendid job of recreating, you’ll likely want to pick up this story. It’s a good story on its own and it’s a good, if somewhat poignant, tribute to a great actress, a great character and an all-around decent person in the form of Caroline John.
This article was first posted on November 10, 2012