Doctor Who: The Ravencliff Witch Review

Still trying to play catch-up with all the Big Finish releases since I took my break, and with a LOT coming out in June, I thought I’d double up some reviews in their paired boxsets just to “get them out of the way” without going too long without some variety of reviews going up.

While I really enjoyed Blood of the Time Lords sadly The Ravencliff Witch was quite the opposite, it was rather dull and predictable and the debut of future new companion Margaret was not well done (it’s very clear she wasn’t planned to be a recurring character at this point!) Throw in a really hard-on-the-eyes cover and it’s not a great outing for the Fourth Doctor, but let’s take a closer look anyway!

The Ravencliff Witch goes out of its way to feel very familiar and comforting, and while sometimes that works well here I found it was a little TOO familiar, and coastal town being haunted by a ghostly figure on the beach isn’t exactly breaking any new ground and that fact that the key “enemies” in the story are some greedy scientists playing with a new substance (called “Novium”) and not understanding the potential power in what they’re dealing with doesn’t help make it feel any fresher! I don’t mind trad plots but there has to be at least something that sets it apart, even if its just a slight change to the setting or a really standout character, but that doesn’t happen here.

Margaret Hopwood (Nerys Hughes) is a local resident and an artist whose work eventually finds its way into the famed Braxietal Collection, so The Doctor is quite happy to meet her and admires her “I’m not moving out of my family home because the greedy power plant owners want more land” stance leading to the two getting along well. That being said, while she’s perfectly pleasant she doesn’t really standout as anything other than “grumpy local resident” and I don’t really see the chemistry that apparently caused the Big Finish producers to immediately cast Nerys as a new companion for the next series of Fourth Doctor Adventures. Again nothing aggressively bad but more just… okay.

Gargh! My eyes! Who thought the neon red filter was a good idea here? It’s literally hard to look at…

The story is perfectly fine as it progresses (I enjoyed the reveal of the Novium coming from the left over technology of a time travelling race that the Time Lords put a permanent stop to), the stakes do raise and the cliffhangers come barrelling in at the right times but for whatever reason I just never got into it, it seemed like The Doctor knew most things right away and was generally keeping on top of the danger for the most part. There was one twist I liked but otherwise it was plain sailing, with emphasis on plain.

The Continuity:

*Rubs eyes*, phew. That’s better.

Not really anything major. Margaret ends up travelling with The Doctor and Leela, which we’ll see (or hear, I guess!) happen next year starting with “Ice Heist!”. That being said she has already made a brief cameo in Eighth Doctor story “Companion Piece”, which saw Time Lord renegade The Nine kidnap a bunch of The Doctor’s companions…

Overall Thoughts:

The Ravencliff Witch isn’t bad per say (apart from the cover!) but it just rolls along at a tame pace, doesn’t ever really surprise you, and then ends. It doesn’t do anything wrong and the performances are fine, but it didn’t exactly keep my attention. I’ll be fair and give it an average score, because that’s the best way to describe it. If it weren’t for Margaret reappearing down the line I doubt I’d ever have thought about this story again, if I’m honest!

The only thing I’ll mention here is the Ravencliff Witch herself, who turns out to be one of the scientists, Celia Banks (Lucy Pickles), being thrown forward in time after directly messing with her own machines and all the time she was trying to help her past self / people who she now knew were in the right. Sadly she kills a few people who touched her, being unable to warn them of her form being deadly to the touch, which was a nice extra wrinkle. It was the only part of the story that actually made me pay attention and go “Oh, that’s a good twist”. Shame it came in Part 4, really…

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