In addition to all their full cast audio dramas and partially narrated audio dramas, Big Finish also produce audio books–pieces of prose fiction which are available to listen to being read by various actors. Amongst these are many short pieces of Doctor Who fiction, marketed as “Short Trips”. Most of these are available on the Big Finish website for about $3.00 AUD, but there are a few available as a free download, including this one…
(Daily Doctor Who #172)
Written by Selim Ulug
Read by Nicholas Briggs
Landbound is one of those nifty stories you can tell in a short format, which would never really work as a TV episode or even a full-cast audio drama. It focuses on a friendship that the Third Doctor forms with Ronald Henderson, a former sea captain that he meets on a drive out of town. It’s implied that this is early in the Doctor’s exile, possibly after his first encounter with the Silurians, when he is discouraged and upset about being trapped on earth and working with UNIT. Henderson, who left his life on the sea after a terrible disaster, helps to remind the Doctor that there is still important work to be done, giving him the conviction to return to UNIT.
The Doctor and Ronald meet each other again at least two more times. First, after the Doctor’s punishment has been rescinded, he attempts to show his friend a kindness by taking him back to his maritime disaster, so he can realize that what happened was not his fault, but was rather the result of an extra-terrestrial presence. This backfires, though, when the experience of seeing the tragedy again without being able to change anything just breaks Henderson’s heart. It’s not until the third visit that Henderson is able to appreciate the Doctor’s gesture, and finds the courage to return to his original passion. He and the Doctor make it up with each other, and both head off onto their lives of open-ended journeying.
It’s a tender story with a sweet spirit, and very well read by Nicholas Briggs. His portrayal of the Third Doctor is certainly reminiscent of Jon Pertwee, but he really excels in his reading of Ronald Henderson. The sea captain is a fully developed character, both in the writing and the reading, and though the story does bring in the obligatory science fiction element, it’s nice to hear stories of the Doctor having relatively ordinary people like this in his life.