If you have been following me and my colleagues’ writing, you have probably realized that we all hold the opinion that 2016 is a year of utmost importance as far as Who is concerned – as the Wilderness Years have proven before, it sometimes is when Who steps back that the most interesting explorations of its identity and possibilities take place. Of course, a fundamental question to ask when you have a postulate like that is “what is 2016”? Which is to say – what are the temporal boundaries you fix to the year as a cultural entity? It seems obvious that it ends with Christmas 2016 and the airing of “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” – but that’s not an entirely satisfying answer, considering how important Doom Coalition was to the ethos of Who during the break. Really, 2016 ends in March, with Doom Coalition IV and John Dorney’s “Stop the Clock”, and 2017 starts in April, with “The Pilot”. It then seems logical to make that stretch of media we’ve decided to study in October 2015, when the first volume of Doom Coalition came out.
But I would actually hazard another guess. For me, the turn Big Finish, and Who at large, takes in 2016 starts in September 2015, with the introduction of Constance Clarke as a companion for Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor, in the main range audio “Criss-Cross”, written by Matt Fitton (who, as a matter of fact, penned six episodes of Doom Coalition, including the opener to the whole series).
Now, that’s a bit of a controversial opinion. You might not realize that if you’re not bathing neck-deep into the swamps of Big Finish – and honestly, I can’t blame you, this is a chasm you’ll never climb out of –, but Clarke, voiced by the most excellent Miranda Raison, who played Tallulah in the series 3 Dalek two-parter, but who always will be Seeker Cassandra Pentaghast to me (Dragon Age rules and I won’t hear a word against it), is not especially well-regarded. The consensus seems to be that she’s a little bit of a stick in the mud, a rigid joyless character that just hangs in the background being dull.
Which means that, of course, as a hopeless contrarian, I love her.