THE EIGHTH DOCTOR REVISITED | The Natural History of Fear

Guest contributor Kieran Brennan tackles the next story in the Eighth Doctor’s Divergent Universe arc!


The Doctor, Charley and C’rizz have all seemingly submitted to the rule of Light City, where the very act of asking a question is a crime. This Orwellian nightmare in which the state has absolute control threatens to corrupt the individuality of our heroes who won’t even put up a fight. Is there any hope for the Doctor and his friends… or is this the end of the once free-thinking adventurers?

The Natural History of Fear is a fantastic addition to the Divergent Universe story arc, feeling so unique and out there in its premise and execution. It’s exactly what one would want from the Divergent Universe, and while it may not be essential that it takes place in a new universe, it feels very fitting to have this be among what one would hope would be a collection of interesting and experimental stories. In essence, this can be summed up as what if Doctor Who did Nineteen Eighty-Four. It’s a fair, though perhaps overly simplistic, way to frame the story as it debates the concepts of free speech, individuality, fascism etc, in a fair and mature way. 

With all of the main cast playing new characters for the most part (this happens quite a lot with the Eighth Doctor doesn’t it?), this is a story that works regardless of how much Doctor Who content you’ve consumed. It’s an oddity in that it doesn’t really require ANY previous listening to get the full effect from, it’s almost a fully original story with Doctor Who characters placed into it. 

Jim Mortimore’s script wastes little time, and is one of the few stories that really justified its length with every minute and each part being impactful and engaging. As with all the best Big Finish stories, it’s difficult to really talk about any sort of specifics in terms of plot and villains as it’s all so exciting and fresh, with genuinely shocking twists that re-contextualise so much of the story. All I can really say is that this is a tense, shocking and unique story in Doctor Who’s wide catalogue and most certainly deserves your attention. 


Final Thoughts

The Natural History of Fear is an incredibly ambitious and memorable story, with great performances and a fascinating new setting to explore. Its nuanced exploration of a totalitarian state keeps the listener engaged and enthralled until the final minutes. A story that will surly stand as a highlight of the Divergent Universe arc. The Natural History of Fear is well worth your time. 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Natural History of Fear is available now as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com

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