Sirens of Time by Nicholas Briggs

Remember back in the long hot summer of nineteen ninety whatever-it-was. The excitement. The anticipation. Those striking full-page adverts in DWM. Doctor Who was back, and such was the hype and hysteria, that audio sounded an almost better medium than telly for it return to.

In the end, "Sirens" wound up as, oddly enough, a fairly unpopular release. The alarm bells were ringing at the time when they decided to do a multi-Doctor story first, but we quite fairly put that down to the over excitement of a group of fans appearing professional enough to blag the keys to the toy shop, even if they were clearly not going to politely decline to play merry havoc with all the fun things inside. Happily, "Sirens" is now regarded as a false start, the indulgence blip before the "quality" of stories like "Phantasmagoria" and "The Marian Conspiracy" set in. Originality and some good old historicals are what we wanted, and we got them once "Sirens" had been got out the system.

Which is odd, considering that in many ways it stands as a typical template for everything that would follow. Look at it, in all it's well-meaning, exciting, terrible glory. All Big Finish is here. There are lots of Doctors, a mystical cult, a time paradox, some awful acting, a woman playing three parts, Gallifrey, a Seventh Doctor we don't remember and Nick Briggs does everything. With hindsight, everything individually has the potential to be great but we could have done without getting it all at once. It's like a sampler for what they could do, a "Now That's What I Call Big Finish" compilation album as a first release. And everyone knows "Now" albums are a hollow pleasure, cheap thrills enjoyed in the belief that proper long players are easily substituted for a quick run-through of the best singles.

Splitting the story between all three Doctors was a bold move. Perhaps it can be seen as generosity outweighing common sense? Certainly one can now see the commercial benefits of keeping the momentum going over three months of new Doctors, rather than just one. But in rewarding us with this big sticky cake of an adventure, we were also robbed of a few other treats; a rounded story for one, character progression for another. This story would act as a good idea for future purchasers of how a number of stories would be seasoned, "The Apocalypse Element", "Land of the Dead", maybe even "Zagreus" with its indigestible Time Lord-adled conclusion. Perhaps that was the idea. But weren't we always going to buy them all anyway?

We were pleased. But then, who isn't pleased, if not rapturous, to be given a "Now" CD as a birthday present? It's a safety-net gift, containing little depth but which is bound to contain something to please everyone. They probably figured it couldn't fail.

CD Facts

Part 1 - Tracks 1-6

Part 2 - Tracks 7-11

Part 3 - Tracks 1-5

Part 4 - Tracks 6-11