When you hear the Seventh Doctor’s theme music start on an audio drama with the title “The High Cost of Parking” and it stars the ever excellent Sylvester McCoy as The Doctor, in a John Dorney script, you just know you’re in for a treat.
We start with The Doctor and his two companions Mel and Ace looking to go to one of the “most beautiful planets in the cosmos,”, Dashrah, but they must park off world. Thankfully the planet ‘Parking’ is very close by, but getting off planet Parking may be harder than it seems. What starts off as a simple story with a rather silly premise turns into a rather serious, though still very fun, adventure. It’s ever so slightly like the “Happiness Patrol” where it’s cheeky but it has something to say. The main difference being that everyone should be able to enjoy “The High Price of Parking” because it delivers on all fronts.
John Dorney is a well loved writer amongst Big Finish fans and with good reason. In this case he takes comedic elements and walks confidently down that thin line of telling a serious story. And it gets complicated with warring factions and villains with motives you can understand. Dorney creates a supporting cast of characters that are believable and make sense in their world . The characters have faults and strengths which are understandable and add to the plot. And the plot gets complicated. Not so complicated that you can’t follow but complicated enough to keep you listening and bring along. Exactly what a good story should do.
The cast are also superb. There are our heroes who do a bang up job, Sophie Aldred, as Ace, in what may be the most spot on Ace since the TV series, Bonnie Langford, as Mel, who really gets to shine on the computer, and, of course, Sylvester McCoy as The Doctor. McCoy constantly and consistently delivers a great job of balancing the Seventh Doctor’s comedy with the drama. As well, we have a great group of supporting actors who deliver some truly fantastic performances. For instance, Gabrielle Glaister, plays Cowley, a high level warden who is more like middle management. She may be in some control but the whole picture isn’t in front of her. Her performance is exquisite and layered. Over confidence with hints of insecurity. Kate Duchene is also worth noting for bringing the dialog to life. She plays two roles, Regina who sounds a bit like Marvin from “The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy” crossed with something out of The Might Boosh. But that’s not a bad thing, it’s different and that’s nice. For as dumb and sad as she sounds she’s actually rather interesting. Along with playing Regina Duchene also plays the Artificial Intelligent character Seraphim and the two performances couldn’t be more different. The cast all around is spot on and deserve recognition.
Director Ken Bentley turns out another fantastic audio adventure. Balanced is the key word as he manages to guide his team, seemingly effortlessly, through the difficult task of keeping comedy in what could have otherwise been a standard adventure drama. Daniel Burnett’s sound design is very good and the music by Jamie Robertson is spot on! It sounds like classic Seventh Doctor music with little bursts of Terminator 2 adrenaline here and there.
Praise must also be made to Anthony Lamb who has created another beautiful cover. The Robowarden design is excellent and it’s fun to see the TARDIS clamps which are mentioned early on.
There’s nothing missing here. A well developed story that takes you from A to Z with supporting characters worth following and believing in. This feels like Classic Who but with a New Who upgrade. This is well worth the price of parking.
The planet Dashrah is a world of exceptional beauty. Historical ruins; colourful skies; swirling sunsets…
Unsurprisingly, it’s a major tourist trap. So if you want to visit Dashrah, first you’ll have to visit Parking, the artificial planetoid that Galactic Heritage built next door. Parking, as its name implies, is a spaceship park. A huge spaceship park. A huge, enormous spaceship park.
When the TARDIS materialises in Parking’s Northern Hemisphere, the Doctor, Ace and Mel envisage a quick teleport trip to the surface of Dashrah. But they’ve reckoned without the superzealous Wardens, and their robotic servitors… the sect of the Free Parkers, who wage war against the Wardens… the spontaneously combusting spaceships… and the terrifying secret that lies at the lowest of Parking’s lower levels.
Written By: John Dorney
Directed By: Ken Bentley
Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Bonnie Langford (Mel Bush), Gabrielle Glaister (Cowley), Hywel Morgan (Kempton/ Tribesman), Kate Duchene (Regina/ Seraphim), Leighton Pugh (Fulton), Jack Monaghan (Dunne/ Selfdrive), James Joyce (Robowardens).
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Alan Barnes
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs