Audio Drama Review – ‘Doctor Who: The Grey Man Of The Mountain’
by Rachel Bellwoar
Doctor Who: The Grey Man of the Mountain
Directed by Samuel Clemens
Written by Lizbeth Myles
Starring Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), and Jon Culshaw (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart)
The grey man at the top of Ben Macdui might not have the name recognition of a yeti or a sasquatch but he is a real legend in Scotland where The Grey Man of the Mountain takes place. The Doctor and Ace are supposed to be attending a street festival in Edinburgh, not looking for a monster, but when the Tardis drops them off early, they have time to kill (and in Doctor Who that means climbing a mountain with a stranger because why not).
Making this detour not feel like a total coincidence is the fact that the Brigadier is in town investigating the grey man, too. Technically he’s retired (this story takes place after “Battlefield”) but recently some hikers have gone missing, while others have been sent to a psychiatric hospital.
Ace’s invite to climb the mountain comes separate from the investigation, which is why she and the Doctor spend most of this audio drama apart. Their destination’s the same but Ace and Kirsty (Lucy Goldie) set out first. Kirsty is someone Ace meets at the pub where the Brigadier’s staying. She was supposed to make the trip with her girlfriend, but they broke-up, leaving Kirsty with an extra set of gear. Her interest in Ben Macdui is the same as the Brigadier’s. She wants to find the grey man but she wants to find him so she can film him for her video channel.
To anyone who’s tired of seeing spoofs of Ghost Hunters, this one is pretty low key, and you could almost forget that’s why Kirsty’s there. In terms of her character development, it’s not her vlog that’s interesting. It’s how she’s dealing with her life, post-breakup, and feeling self-reflective. The video channel storyline could be dropped, and it wouldn’t be missed at all.
Of the supporting cast, Youssef Kerkour’s Thaddeus is especially memorable as the guide the Brigadier sends for before he knows the Doctor’s joining them. He’s a lot like Carl Denham in King Kong. Thinks he can possess the beast. Won’t be talked out of it. Anytime you add a character who can’t be reasoned with there’s an element of danger. Thaddeus might not be the person you want to climb a mountain with, but he’s great for drama.
While the Doctor gets to spend this story raising alternative theories – a role he’s extremely well-suited for – the Brigadier spends most of his scenes giving orders. His main target is Dr. Godec (Vivian Reid, who also voices the Scottish landlord, in a less subtle performance) and it makes him come across as unreasonable – the retired soldier who won’t give up command.
The weather is as dangerous as the grey man in this story (which is why the mountain’s such a wonderful location). The Doctor isn’t immune to the grey man either, which gives McCoy the rare chance to play the Doctor struggling, but it’s a shame Myles doesn’t keep the grey man singular. More isn’t always better.
The Grey Man of the Mountain is available to purchase from Big Finish.