Doctor Who: Redacted – Episode One highlights the strength of loving the show.
Doctor Who: Redacted began airing on BBC Sounds after the Easter Sunday episode, Legend of the Sea Devils. Written by award-winning author, Juno Dawson the ten-episode audio drama affirms understanding that loving the show’s history oozes through.
Episode one of Doctor Who: Redacted begins with Cleo Proctor (Charlie Craggs), Abby McPhail (Lois Chimimba) and Shawna Thompson (Holly Quin-Ankrah) as they record a true-crime inspired podcast ‘The Blue Box Files’ where the trio dive into canonical events to decipher the appearance of a 1950s police phone box appearing.
From the beginning, it is clear to what extent writer Dawson loves Doctor Who.
With littered references to episodes gone by, the podcasters investigate Adipose Industries from the episode Partners in Crime, mentioning how a blue box appeared, and lights illuminated the night sky as balls of fat flew.
Cleo is later tasked with interviewing journalist Penny Carter (Siena Kelly) who confirms the alien fat did really wander the streets, though can’t recall any specific information about a man other than their name. The Doctor.
“There’s a black cloud where his face should be,” the journalist tells Cleo, and it’s this that becomes the premise for Doctor Who: Redacted.
Memories, voice messages, and even thoughts are being altered at any mention of the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) who even tries to intervene and warn our characters.
A simple premise, told effectively, Doctor Who: Redacted gave Dawson time to also flesh out her characters, making for a refreshing tale given the current state of affairs for the show under the helm of showrunner Chris Chibnall.
Dawson contextualises our lead, Cleo a transwoman living off her brother’s sofa, after being chucked out by their Mum when Cleo began transitioning and whose joyous personality audiences will be delighted to follow for the next nine episodes. Though Cleo has been asked by her brother, Jordan (Jacob Hawley) to forgive their mother due to an illness.
It is a delight to see a transgender character become the lead for a Doctor Who story, and with both the story written by a transgender writer, and performed by a transgender actor, it adds to the authenticity and understanding of the world Dawson envelopes us in.
With Dawson truly enamoured with the show and its entire culture, she uses the oppurtunity to fulfil her wildest Doctor Who dreams.
Re-introducing The Sarah Jane Adventures’ Rani Chandra (Anjili Mohindra) with an ominous declaration: “It’s the Doctor. The Doctor is killing us” and referencing episodes such as the “fruit cakes from LINDA” nodding to the episode Love & Monsters and its underground TARDIS-searching investigative agency, disbanded after the Absorbaloff (Peter Kay) absorbed all members apart from Elton Pope (Marc Warren).
This is where episode one of Doctor Who: Redacted excels. It is clearly done with passion, care, and attention, with Dawson’s affection radiating off every page of her audio script for the BBC Sounds drama.
Co-directors Ella Watts and James Robinson then use this to draw out fully fleshed performances, giving us enough to understand their motives, interests, and boons for the series to develop.
With the last few series from Chris Chibnall resulting in poor audience approval, to have a Doctor Who series released that actually cares about its character, the story, and is done so with passion is evident, and makes me excited for how the show will develop.
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