REVIEW | The Fourth Doctor Adventures: New Frontiers

After two boxsets of the Fourth Doctor travelling solo, Tom Baker reunites with Louise Jameson for two new four-part audio adventures. But the Doctor and Leela aren’t alone- they’re joined by Nerys Hughes as Margaret Hopwood, who we first met in last year’s The Ravencliff Witch (review here). We left that story feeling decidedly neutral about the character, and unfortunately New Frontiers doesn’t do much to change that.

Margaret rejoins the Doctor in Ice Heist! by Guy Adams, which takes us to an art gallery on the frozen world of Terra Glacier. While never straying too far into farce, it’s a slightly heightened story with all sorts of colourful characters, which makes for an entertaining, if a little shallow, listen.

Tom Baker steals the show here, bouncing from scene to scene in the most delightful way. He’s cheeky, rude, funny and terrifying all at once, seizing on the notes of barminess in Adams’ script and dialling it up to eleven. His relationship with Louise Jameson‘s Leela is well-handled here, with the latter being given a lot to do; it’s just a shame he doesn’t interact so much with Nerys Hughes‘ Margaret, who has some strong chemistry and a really fresh-feeling dynamic with Jameson, but who doesn’t quite seem to fit with this Doctor as much.

As you can imagine from the title, this story features the monstrous Ice Warriors and, while there’s a short-lived attempt at doing something a little different with them in the first part, they’re used pretty generically throughout. Adele Lynch returns as a female Ice Warrior called Kaltakk, giving a fearsome performance as usual, but ends up only being a minor part of the story. Instead, most of the story’s Martian duties are handled by Nicholas Briggs, whose evocative, sibilant hissing brings to life even the more formulaic Ice Warrior scenes in the script.

Ice Heist! is one of those stories that won’t set the world on fire, but it certainly won’t freeze you solid with boredom either. Some novel ideas, a fab central performance from Tom Baker and strong guest turns from Oliver Chris and Beth Goddard make this an entertaining, if inessential, listen.

The next story in the set takes us to the lost world of Antillia, as the TARDIS team join an expedition seeking to uncover the secrets of this uncharted territory. There are echoes of Kipling or Rider Haggard’s adventure stories here, updated, of course, to fit with modern sensibilities, as well as some very Doctor Who sci-fi twists, which make this a little more of an interesting listen than the previous story.

Tom Baker and Louise Jameson are on sparkling form here, once again split up for much of the story and each given lots to do. Pleasingly, Margaret also gets her own little storyline, but she’s still quite underused here, which is a real shame, because Hughes’ performance is so charming.

Joining the TARDIS team in this adventure is the crew of the Blade, a band of intrepid explorers led by Richard Lumsden‘s mild-mannered Dr Vance. The rest of the crew are well-performed, particularly Andrew Wincott‘s Craske, but underdeveloped and underused, which is a shame with the likes of Anjli Mohindra as part of the cast. Meanwhile, Adrian Rawlins impresses as the villainous Gilman Hari, giving a suitably unhinged performance in the role.

Overall, these are two pacy, exciting stories that take us to some great and novel feeling locations. It’s a shame there’s not much focus on character here, particularly in the case of Nerys Hughes‘s Margaret, or this definitely could have achieved a higher score than I’ve given it. If you’re looking for some solid excitement and adventure, though, New Frontiers provides that in spades. Recommended.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

New Frontiers is available on CD or as a download from

Ice Heist! and Antillia the Lost are also available as individual downloads.


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