Rose Tyler returns for three more adventures in the multiverse! Billie Piper is joined by Camille Coduri as Jackie and Mark Benton as Clive in the second instalment in the Rose Tyler: The Dimension Cannon series: Other Worlds! Read on for our thoughts!
And you can check out our review of the first series here.
1. “Saltwater” by Alison Winter
In her search for the Doctor, Rose arrives on a parallel world in strife. Something is stealing salt from the oceans, causing boats to sink and triggering a heightened state of tension among the world’s major powers. Teaming up with an alternate Clive, Rose must evade the law and convince the government to back down, before conflict emerges and she becomes stranded.
Saltwater is a strong opener to Other Worlds, with some fantastic character moments for Rose and excellent worldbuilding from writer Alison Winter. Billie Piper puts in an excellent performance here, perfectly capturing the more emotionally vulnerable Rose presented in Winters’ script, while keeping the character as headstrong and unafraid of conflict as ever.
Mark Benton appears here playing two versions of Clive, and succeeds at differentiating the characters, making the interaction between them sound like it really is two separate people. Meanwhile, although Camille Coduri has a smaller role as Jackie, appearing only over the phone, she perfectly recaptures her character’s slightly barmy nature and her emotional intelligence.
The cast is rounded off by Nicola Blackman as Reverend Stacey, Luke R Francis as PC Jeffries, Robert Cavanah as President Gilbert and Sarah Priddy as Femi, all of whom are strong in their roles and whose characters help to really flesh out the world Alison Winter has created with this story. Thanks to their performances and Winter’s strong focus on crafting a believable setting, the world in which this story takes place is probably the best-realised of the Dimension Cannon so far.
Overall this is a really strong story with a captivating plot, interesting characters and some excellent worldbuilding.
2. “Now is the New Dark” by AK Benedict
Rose and Clive find themselves in a parallel London where science never advanced from the Dark Ages. Captured by the authoritative Assessor and blamed for the serial murders of Melancholics, the two must fight to prove their innocence. Might one Jackie Prentice and her mysterious friend the Doctor be able to help them?
Now is the New Dark is a pleasing change from the Dimension Cannon formula thus far, plunging Rose and Clive into a world completely unlike their own. While every story in the series up until this point has taken place on an Earth relatively similar to the norm, this one sees our heroes arrive in a world where germ theory was never proposed and where science barely exists, giving this a real historical feel.
Camille Coduri is excellent here as a slightly more chipper version of Jackie (or Jacqueline, as she calls herself), sharing some really lovely scenes with Billie Piper‘s Rose. Clive also gets some great material, separated from Rose for much of the story and forced to fight for his freedom as the villainous Assessor (Victoria Jeffrey) accuses him of murder.
Overall, this isn’t quite as strong as the other two stories in Other Worlds, but it’s still highly entertaining, with its novel, pseudo-historical setting creating a really unique vibe.
3. “The Rogue Planet” by Emily Cook
On a world prophesied to be in imminent danger, Rose and Jackie encounter alternate versions of themselves and Clive, whose lives are both very similar and very different to their own. With a rogue planet on its way to destroy Earth, will the Tylers manage to escape with their lives?
The Rogue Planet switches up the Dimension Cannon formula once again, seeing Rose and Jackie for the first time come face-to-face with their alternate selves. Writer Emily Cook clearly put a lot of thought crafting these parallel personalities, because they’re the most effectively realised alternate versions of established characters in the Dimension Cannon series to date, feeling fully fleshed out as people rather than mere twists on people we know and love.
Billie Piper does a great job as a slightly haughtier Rose (or Rosie), clearly relishing bringing to life the more mothery, nurturing version of the character in Cook’s script. It’s a testament to her performance that, when the two variants of Rose interact, it’s immediately clear who’s who just from the way she slightly alters her voice. Similarly, Camille Coduri and Mark Benton are great as versions of Jackie and Clive who have found fame on TV.
Overall, this is an excellent finale to the set, raising the stakes in terms of both plot and character and, with a really exciting cliffhanger, leading us into the next instalment in the Dimension Cannon series.
Just like the first Dimension Cannon set, Other Worlds is an impressive exercise in character work and world-building tied together by emotive and varied performances from Billie Piper, Camille Coduri and Mark Benton. A series with a premise like this has a danger of becoming repetitive, but I’m glad to report that the writers of this set have avoided that pitfall completely, giving us three really creative stories that feel quite unlike anything else in the Doctor Who universe. And after that cliffhanger, it’s looking like the next volume, Trapped, will continue that trend. September 2023 can’t come quickly enough! Highly recommended.
Rose Tyler: The Dimension Cannon – Other Worlds is available on CD or as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com