Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Cast: Frazer Hines
Perhaps the only thing worse then never being able to remember your name, is the life you have had. Something that can cause great concern and consternation as you battle each day to remember what your life was like during a set period of time. For an old Scottish man who talks to a stranger in a pub, only his life before the battle of Culloden and the hardship he faced after his return are the only memories that he has, everything else is a like a dream and in David Howe’s audio drama The Piper’s Lament, the mournful and the laying of memories down go hand in hand.
The Piper’s Lament takes the very best of ingredients, a great tale by David Howe riddled with pathos and the injustice of a man left behind and without the most important thing he possesses, that of his memories, and the tones of an actor who played the young Scotsman all those years ago and who still retains immense gravitas as one of the best male companions to have travelled inside the Tardis. Frazer Hines doesn’t just read the script that is presented to him in the studio; you can almost feel the layers of life being stripped away until he is once more that young brave Highlander who first met The Doctor’s second incarnation after the battle of Culloden.
Frazer Hines’ rich delivery on the audio drama is worthy of the script and it is pleasure to hear him talk, to take on the voice of the man cast adrift in his own time but with no knowledge of how he got there.
Not only is The Piper’s Lament a very powerful piece of writing but it captures the essence of what it means to be a companion of The Doctor, on television, on radio and in the abundance of books that have been written over the years and that is loss. The magic that is there will not last forever, not even for the faithful viewers who sometimes lose their way because they feel that the new Doctor will not be any good, long before they have even filmed an episode.
Frazer Hines shows that the loss that all companions feel when the travelling is over and they are left to fend for themselves. Some have an even better life, such as Peri or arguably Rose but some have their time wiped away, only ever seeing fragments, ghostly and disturbing images of what happened in their life such as Donna and of course the young Highlander who battled Daleks, Cybermen and the Yeti.
The Piper’s Lament is an excellent addition to the world in which so many have grown up in but never see the fall out of what it means to be the companion, perhaps in the end, the most important person on the Tardis.
Ian D. Hall