Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Original Doctor Who: Home Truths (2008)

Whatever happened to Sara Kingdom?

Wait, we know this one: she died.

The life of companion Sara Kingdom was wrapped up violently in her only appearance, the First Doctor story The Daleks' Master Plan. In the course of that sprawling epic, she executed her brother in the name of the Space Security Agency, then turned on the agency to help the Doctor foil the plans of the Guardian of the Solar System who was helping the Daleks to build a Time Destructor weapon. In the final episode of the serial, the weapon went off and Kingdom died as its victim, prematurely aging to the point of death.

Despite her finite tenure as a companion, Big Finish Audio approached actress Jean Marsh with the offer to reprise her role for the Companion Chronicles series. Unfortunately, the list of First Doctor companions is also finite. Of the originals, only Carole Ann Ford (Susan), William Russell (Ian Chesterton), Maureen O'Brien (Vicki), Peter Purves (Steven Taylor) and Jackie Lane (Dodo Chaplet) remain. Katarina's story is truly over, as Adrienne Hill passed away in 1997, as is Barbara Wright, whose actress Jacqueline Hill succumbed to cancer in 1993. So far, Jackie Lane has not been tapped to fill in the missing adventures of Dodo, and Big Finish has looked to other means to expand the roster. One of those has been to invent a new companion, Oliver Harper, played by Tom Allen. Another was to resurrect Sara Kingdom.

In many ways, Home Truths carries the tone of a pilot episode. Charting an untelevised excerpt of their run from Daleks, the TARDIS crew lands inside a house where two mysterious murders have taken place. Without knowing exactly where or when they are, one fact becomes apparent: the house is extremely intelligent and capable of making even the most idle of wishes come true. Eventually it is Kingdom who discerns the solution to the case and the problem now befalling the Doctor and Steven. That resolution, indeed the whole point of the audio-drama, sets us up for the resurrection of Sara Kingdom.

Her's is a unique condition, to say the least, and seems to have been a successful gamble. Kingdom goes one to star in two more Companion Chronicles: The Drowned World and The Guardian of the Solar System. Nested within those recollections of her brief time with the Doctor is the unfolding plot of her new lease on life. Drifting from strict recollections, Sara Kingdom's Companion Chronicles have graduated to full spin-off.