Big Finish Productions
The Gathering

Written by Joseph Lidster Cover image
Format Compact Disc
Released 2006

Starring Peter Davison and Janet Fielding

Synopsis: On the morning of 22 September 2006, Tegan woke up. She was expecting to spend the day relaxing at home and, that evening, tolerate a party thrown to celebrate her 46th birthday. But things don't always go as expected. It's been over twenty years since she chose to leave the Doctor. She's got a job, mates... a life. Meanwhile her friend, Katherine Chambers, makes a decision that could change all their lives, and Tegan discovers that you can never really escape the past...


Country of the Living Dead by Jacob Licklider 199/21

Tom Baker famously was sent the scripts for some Big Finish audios, and then put them in the trash can, as he didn't wish to participate in something he thought silly. He would later regret this and come to join the Big Finish family, but he was not the only one. This was the case for Janet Fielding, but luckily when the New Series came back she immediately asked to have one audio drama, which of course they obliged. Her grand return was The Gathering, the final part in the Cyberman trilogy, but, outside of a dramatic ending where she and the Doctor get to reflect on their time together, which is great, she barely does anything in this story. It's actually a waste of a great actress and honestly a matured character, as on television she was very much the mouth on legs, but here she is subdued. This is really the story of Katherine Chambers and how she didn't get the end of The Reaping and is trying to create the Cybermen on Earth by converting her paralyzed brother in the name of love. Jane Perry is still great as the character, especially now that she is older, she gets to feel the grief of her dying brother and realizes early on that she is in too deep.

Peter Davison is great as the Doctor, and he works extremely well off Janet Fielding, especially when they are reunited. It's this great comedy moment, with Tegan's reaction being extremely priceless, as, looking back on it, they really didn't leave each other on the best of terms in Resurrection of the Daleks, and here we get the fallout from that experience. Tegan has moved on from the Doctor and doesn't regret the decision. While her ex-boyfriend thinks she was in love with the Doctor, she of course wasn't and was just having her eyes opened to the joys of life. Their conversation at the end of the story is great, as they actually have resolution to their characters, even though the Fifth Doctor in this story is honestly a wet noodle. He is really just the Doctor we saw on television, which really doesn't work in a story that needs him to be strong to get through to Kathy who just realizes "wait I've been a total idiot about things and have to stop what I'm doing before I accidentally destroy the world".

There are, however, some great things to enjoy in this story, as you have to play spot the connection to The Reaping and The Harvest. It is implied that Nathan became the Cybermen seen in The Harvest, and we get to see the origins of the System, which is actually a human interface. That's actually a pretty good idea, along with having parallel opening scenes at the Gogglebox about wanting to visit some ice caves, but that really isn't much to see when you have a story that needs concluding.

To summarize, The Gathering at best is a mediocre story with the potential to actually be a great one. There is only one Cyberman in it, and it isn't the actual villain of the story, just a side character, and while the fourth part tries making up for it, the case isn't really helped. The return of Tegan really should have been done with a better story with something for the Australian mouth on legs to actually accomplish outside of a brain tumor and nice final words. 55/100