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Reviewed: Big Finish’s Eleventh Doctor Chronicles Volume 6 – Victory of the Doctor

The sixth and final volume of Big Finish’s The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles concludes the run of Series 7V, bringing the epic 14-part story arc to an explosive climax with peak storytelling and Daleks galore! Yes, we finally have the long-awaited showdown between the Eleventh Doctor (voiced by Jacob Dudman) and the multicoloured New Dalek Paradigm. Victory of the Doctor, as a boxset, couldn’t be a better way to give Valarie Lockwood (Safiyya Ingar) an emotional, tearjerking farewell.

When Series 5’s Victory of the Daleks first aired, back in 2010, I wasn’t completely sold on the New Paradigm Daleks — not just the multicoloured designs, but also the direction the episode took by having them unnecessarily exterminate the ones they deemed “inferior.” As I’ve been saying for years, even before returning in the Series 7 opener Asylum of the Daleks, they could’ve just used them as backup. And Big Finish has finally answered my prayers.

(This review contains spoilers for the previous boxsets – Geronimo!All of Time and Space, and Everywhere and Anywhere – and Broken Hearts. And don’t tell River Song that I’ve been peeking through her diary!)

The boxset opens with Didn’t You Kill My Mother?, by John Dorney, which involves Valarie in a legal battle with Arabella Hendricks (Lara Lemon), while the Doctor acts as an arbiter alongside his colleague, Tim (Homer Todiwala). An experimental four-hander, almost like a stage play, dealing with the events of The Inheritance (from Geronimo!) that culminated in the death of Valarie’s mother Patricia, the script keeps you thrilled with suspense as everything unravels. And with a few references to the Ellery Quest novels from All of Time and Space (i.e. the episode), the performances and worldbuilding brilliantly set up what’s soon to come.

We then return to Medrüth in Daleks Victorious, with the planet being invaded by the titular pepperpots. It has vibes of the Series 4 finale, The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End, bringing back various characters including Roanna (Mia Tomlinson), Hayden Lockwood (Christopher Ragland), Hoster (David Dobson), and the panther-like Yearn creatures (Samuel Clemens, who also voices Darthan in this episode). But more importantly, the New Dalek Paradigm make their Big Finish debut with Nicholas Briggs marvellously modulating their distinctive voices, to differentiate between the individual ranks and colour codes.

After writing The Galois Group (Short Trips Volume 12), which takes place between All of Time and Space and The Yearn, Felicia Barker has received an opportunity to “ELEVATE!” Series 7V to a whole new level. Her script does the New Paradigm Daleks proper justice by making them increasingly threatening and unpredictable, with the Doctor cleverly identifying their colours in the most hilarious way possible; orange-flavoured Smarties and Colonel White spring to mind (lovely childhood references!). And the Time Lord himself getting interrogated by his iconic enemies… pretty grim.

The emotional character-driven subplots and performances, plus Valarie and Roanna’s romantic relationship, also deserve a shoutout, as they make further progression on the overarching narrative with plenty of callbacks to previous episodes. But everything takes a drastic turn during one of the most dramatic cliffhangers ever done by Big Finish, as well as the darkest in the entirety of Series 7V. It was so terrifying, I shivered with goosebumps as I heard it for the first time. You will be completely shocked to the core.

And here we are with the de facto two-part finale, The Last Stand of Miss Valarie Lockwood and Victory of the Doctor (which aptly shares the same title as the boxset), both written by producer Alfie Shaw – who also has a cameo as the Robo-Priest. That’s how I personally perceive it, in contrast to Alfie describing them with Daleks Victorious as a three-parter of sorts in Who Review’s preview.

“They’re three quite distinct episodes, but they do all flow into one another.”

I love that it’s left open to interpretation, just like with Series 9’s Face the Raven preceding Heaven Sent/Hell Bent; a prelude leading directly into a two-parter, or three connected episodes forming a loose trilogy.

Although I won’t spoil anything about the plots for both halves, they really resolve various lingering questions throughout the overarching narrative in a wibbly wobbly, timey wimey fashion — thoroughly developed from start to finish, with emotional beats and underlying themes that bring Valarie’s journey to an end, as well as Dudman’s final appearance as the Eleventh Doctor. And it was definitely the right decision to expand the boxset to four episodes, by allowing everything to be wrapped up in two whole hours; otherwise, it would’ve been too rushed with just three episodes – like how The Wedding of River Song and The Name of the Doctor unfortunately weren’t split into two parts, in contrast to the Series 5 finale, The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang.

Everything about the multicoloured New Paradigm Daleks, in this boxset, couldn’t satisfy me enough. Far superior than their original TV appearances in Victory and Asylum, allowing the Strategist (blue), Scientist (orange), and Eternal (yellow), in particular, to have more prominence. Same goes for the return of the Dalek mutant Prime Minister and the Parliament of the Daleks, after having their memories of the Doctor erased by Oswin Oswald, with the red Drone Daleks being promoted to Commander; that rank now passed on to the RTD bronze variant. And despite their notable absence in The Time of the Doctor, the boxset gives the multicoloured pepperpots a proper sense of closure.

But there’s more… the Special Weapons Daleks are back! This time given the RTD style bronze design treatment by James Johnson (@ThePrydonian), who also worked on the “Reborn” New Paradigm variants. It’s really great to see these CGI designs featured on Caroline Tankersley’s outstanding cover artwork. I’ve always had such fondness for the Special Weapons Dalek, ever since its debut in Remembrance of the Daleks, followed by cameos in Asylum and the Series 9 opener, The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar. Here’s hoping for more appearances, either on audio or TV!

As a fan of Valarie Lockwood, it’s heartbreaking to see her go. Safiyya Ingar has delivered a stellar performance with energy and emotion, throughout the entire boxset. Well, the whole of Series 7V is to their credit for Valarie’s character development. Tragically losing her mother in The Inheritance, with Hendricks being responsible; falling in love with Roanna in The Yearn; having her cybernetic enhancements taken apart in Curiosity Shop, and later blaming the Doctor in Broken Hearts; seemingly killed off for real in All’s Fair, whilst meeting her husband Hayden; overpowering the Cybermen in Sins of the Flesh; and standing with the Doctor against the Daleks. A strong, original companion.

And what can I say about Jacob Dudman? Ever since watching him in The Great Curator, which also featured Jon Culshaw, I knew from the start he would end up doing Big Finish audios. His uncanny Matt Smith impression never disappoints. The way how Dudman captures the vocals, mannerisms, and emotions of this incarnation perfectly illustrates Smith’s onscreen portrayal in every single Eleventh Doctor boxset and individual release he has appeared in. And having him do a full 14-part story arc, across four volumes, is the best approach to giving him a big finish (no pun intended) and a fond farewell. But don’t worry, we’ll be hearing him again for one last time in the forthcoming third Twelfth Doctor Chronicles volume, You Only Die Twice.

Victory of the Doctor, overall, is a perfect conclusion to Series 7V. The best volume in The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles range, which majestically brings justice for the New Dalek Paradigm and gives Valarie Lockwood proper closure. Would it be wrong for me to say that it is, by far, the best Big Finish release of 2024? And furthermore, Series 7V has already become one of my favourite serialised arcs ever produced, right up there with the Dalek Universe saga. A perfect bridge between The Snowmen and The Bells of Saint John, coinciding with the Doctor’s search for Clara Oswald across time and space. It builds upon what I wish Steven Moffat had done for the entirety of Series 7, as showrunner, during the lead up to the 50th anniversary: serialisation and dramatic cliffhangers, with an epic two-part finale. The perfect approach for Series 7V, which supersedes the standalone storytelling format of the first two volumes.

I’d also like to say a big thank you to Jacob Dudman and Safiyya Ingar, plus all the cast members, for bringing these characters to life. Same to Helen Goldwyn and Nicholas Briggs for your outstanding directing, Borna Matosic and Jamie Robertson for the scores, Caroline Tankersley for the cover artworks, Lee Adams for the sound design (who’s also known for The Dalek That Time Forgot fan animated serial), and Alfie Shaw for shaping up the series and bringing together all the writers. None of this would’ve been possible without the amazing cast and crew at Big Finish.

Victory of the Doctor is available now from Big Finish.

Andrew Hsieh

Aspiring screenwriter with Asperger's syndrome, and lifelong Whovian since (shortly after) Christopher Eccleston's reign, Andrew has written and co-edited short story anthologies for Divergent Wordsmiths. Plus, he lives near Bannerman Road.

Reviewed: Big Finish’s Eleventh Doctor Chronicles Volume 6 – Victory of the Doctor

by Andrew Hsieh time to read: 6 min
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