Big Finish Productions
The Rapture

Written by Joseph Lidster Cover image
Format Compact Disc
Released 2002
Continuity After Survival

Starring Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred
Also featuring Tony Blackburn, Matthew Brenher, Neil Henry, Carlos Riera, David John, Anne Bird, Daniel Wilson.

Synopsis: Ibiza, the island of dance music, sex, drugs and alcohol, is the ultimate hedonistic paradise. God has sent help from on high to save the sinners of Ibiza. He has sent His angels to save their souls. Which would be simple enough if these souls didn't include an alien time-traveller working in a bar, a woman who disappeared in 1987, a young man carrying a photograph of a girl he's never met and an Irish girl who doesn't even know who she is anymore.


A Review by Richard Radcliffe 7/10/02

I looked on the releases of 2002, and was totally bemused by September's release. A modern story, complete with Angels, Ibiza and Tony Blackburn! Was this Big Finish trying to be so incredibly different, as to score an own goal? I'm a subscriber to Big Finish, I think they're the best DW we've ever had. Regardless of reservations I was always going to get this release, you never know it could very well turn out to be the best release of the year, after all! The Rapture isn't that, but I applaud Big Finish for trying something different - and one that perfectly complements the way the series was going, way back in 1989.

Season 26 was notable for its more adult approach. A more mysterious Doctor, a Companion with real life problems who we got to know more about in a few stories than most companions get in a few years. Big Finish set this story straight after Colditz. There's no mention of New Adventures, and those people who like putting DW stories in order would put it before those wide ranging books. One things for sure, this is a more interesting Ace than we ever had in the Books, it's before she got boring.

Many fans are fed up with Ace, they're burnt out because of the gun-toting Soldier she became. But it's best just to forget that. Imagine this as part of Season 27 which could have been, and you'll see a natural progression. This is just as much an Ace story as a Doctor Who story - and I was quite pleased about that.

Ibiza is somewhere I have never been. I detest Rave Music, and was dreading the incessant beat that would inevitably accompany much of this story. But I admired the author's ideas. You write what you know about, and he knew about this scene. I have a very good friend, Stephen, who is also into Nightclubbing and Doctor Who - it's not unusual to like both! I would keep an open mind throughout, and enjoy the audio on its own merits and not some pre-conceived ideas about the Island of Ibiza or the Music.

I want to visit Ibiza now! Not for the Rave Music, I'm still not a fan, but for the mythological impact that the story gave the Island. Joseph Lidster gives us Angels, and a rich Historical Ibiza comes alive for me! It's a pity all we hear about is the seedier side - for it appears there is plenty more to this place. But let's move on, I'm beginning to sound like a Wish You Were Here presenter!

My favourite supporting character of this play was Gustavo. I love the idea of the Doctor having friends everywhere, and such a Beach Café as Gustavo runs sounds wonderful. The rest are pretty good too. I was very impressed by Anne Bird as Catriona. She has the most troubled part, riddled with depression and real emotions, it's easily the best written too. It's also a performance of skill from Ms Bird, and I just loved that slight Irish twang that crept in every now and again. Liam was well played too by David John. The scaredycat from Survival gives a much meatier performance. Liam and Catriona actually form a strange partnership, but one that works in the context of the play.

Tony Blackburn does what Tony Blackburn does best. There's no point in him playing anyone else, as Big Finish decided late on in production. He's one of the greatest and most recognizable DJs Britain has ever produced. His comments spice up the audio, and with the music emphasis that was welcome. Of the Angels it is Jude who is the most memorable. The way he takes Catriona on her trip is marvelously realized. The Angels are an eerie counterpoint to the whole Ibiza mythos that the story really emphasized.

The Rapture inevitably has the most different Musical Accompaniment of all the Big Finish CDs. The music is integral to the plot, it creates (along with the drugs) the Rapture which the title alludes to. We are given short bursts of it though, it is not in-your-face or continuous, as I thought it would be. For that I'm grateful. There is a story to be told after all, and that story is one of realism mixed with fantasy. The exploits of Ace, Catriona and Liam are very much in the realms of possibility. Lidster himself has stated that this kind of nightclubbing scene takes you to other worlds. This state is pushed into fantasy realms then by the Angels - but the connection between reality and fantasy is clear right from the word go.

There's one main character I haven't mentioned so far, and that's the Doctor. On reflection this isn't the most Doctor-centric story in the Big Finish range. McCoy is excellent, but it's clear his Doctor isn't getting the development seen by other Doctors in this series. It's not that he isn't involved - he is, quite a bit - but I just felt the Ace, Catriona & Liam story was handled better.

I enjoyed The Rapture better than I thought I would. DW can be so many things - and I can't recall a story that comes anywhere near this one in ideas and execution of those concepts. An impressive debut from Joseph Lidster, and superbly produced by Big Finish. 8/10

Not so Ace these days – by Julian Shortman 15/10/02

There was a fair amount in The Rapture that appealed to me. The experimental feel of the production, with its distinct and different style was fresh and welcome. To my surprise (and delight), Tony Blackburn turned out not to be a tacky guest star tagged on for PR purposes. In fact he was one of the strongest elements of the piece, and not once did he fall into the trap of over-acting ‘cos he was doing a DW (Richard Briers please take note). Getting Tony to introduce the danced-up theme tune started proceedings well, and keeping his role sparse & varied ensured that his appearances were interesting. The raved-up theme tune was a welcome break from the norm, and it helped to create a stronger overall atmosphere as the incidental music could blend seamlessly with it. Top marks here to the incidental music gang who provided a diverse score and kept many sections of the story feeling pacey and exciting.

There were some interesting themes in the story itself, and a little deeper characterisation for the supporting cast than we’ve been used to in formulaic DW stories (another welcome difference). The parallels between Catriona and Gabriel were nicely drawn, as were the scenes when the two interacted. There were also some nice ‘image’ pieces – I was pleased to find I could vividly picture ‘The Rapture’ without having had an obvious description spouted at me from a character.

However, this is not to say that The Rapture didn’t also have its smattering of weak moments. There was some sloppy scripting (‘You have all become selfish, and interested only in yourselves’ – ah, so that’s what selfish means!), an obvious rush on the explanations in episode three, and a cop-out cliff-hanger half-way through (did the apartment fall on Ace? And if it was just a drug-induced experience, how come Catriona overheard the conversation with Liam?).

Actually while we’re on the subject of cliffhangers, we were also treated to the most ‘Scooby-Doo’ cliff-hanger in DW yet at the end of episode three. Who would have thought that friendly, old Mr. Gestavo would have turned out to be in league with the aliens all this time? Well, of course, no one - and it should have stayed that way. He was a perfectly respectable and likeable sideline character, and there was no need to drag him into the main action. Personally, I’d have had no trouble believing that aliens who are capable of popping through portals with easy access to hallucinogenic drugs could also raise enough dosh to buy a dance club.

And then, sadly, we must reach the uncomfortable part of this review. Uncomfortable, because although I respect the actors involved, I think I’d be compromising the integrity of this review if I don’t include the following comments.

This was the first 7th Doctor & Ace story since Colditz - I didn’t feel the pair came across at all well in that story, and I’m sorry to say that by the end of The Rapture I was even more convinced that they’ve reached the end of their creative road. To be fair to BF, they had a good stab at moving the duo on – throwing a brother into the equation was a reasonable attempt to stir things up. But Ace’s insistence on going by a different name only seems to underline the point that surface changes aren’t enough to revive a character that should have said farewell by now.

In a way this feels a little tragic, as there was a time in the late eighties when the 7th Doctor & Ace were the brightest sparks in DW. In the last two TV Seasons, their rapport shone in good stories, and even made some of the pants stories more watchable. I understand from hearsay that, had it been made, in Season 27 we’d have seen Ace bidding farewell to the Doctor. Well we’ve now had six extra 7th Doctor & Ace outings from BF, I’m beginning to see the wisdom in that original notion. I was impressed with how well they resumed their roles in The Fearmonger (I must get round to writing a rave review of that some day...) and until Colditz, they were still quite fun to hear in the odd audio outing. But now I’m sorry to report that this pairing is feeling horribly stale, and I hope BF has the guts to call it quits sooner rather than later.

I was interested in Gary Russell’s recent comments on continuity in his interview with BBCi. It was nice to hear that he doesn’t consider himself tied to the continuity of Virgin/BBC/Marvel stories published since ‘89. Gary also said that he enjoys the 8th Doctor stories as it gives him the ability to not have a re-set button. However, if he doesn’t consider himself bound by anything post ’89, then surely there’s also a wealth of potential for creativity in stories set between Survival and The TV Movie?

To put it bluntly, I think it’s high time we had a new companion for the 7th Doctor. Considering how well Evelyn & Charley have gone down with the punters, it actually feels a little surprising this step hasn’t been taken already. And just as Evelyn has been a fantastic way of bringing out different (and more pleasant) sides to the 6th Doctor’s persona, a new companion for 7th Doctor could also bring out some much needed freshness in his character. (I wonder if the DcTT? team were thinking along similar lines when they created Antimony, but then androids never make the most stimulating of companions, do they Kamelion?).

One aspect of the 7th Doctor’s persona which I’d very happily see eradicated at this point would be Sylvester’s shouting. This is becoming as intolerable as Baker’s Bickering - thankfully very rare these days. Sylvester’s shoutings however seem to be on the increase since Colditz and they don’t suit him at all. Some of Sylvester’s most cringeable moments on TV involved shouting (spoons comes in close second in case you’re wondering), and it bemuses me as to why BF should be encouraging this unpleasant side of the 7th Doctor’s character. The mad, loud flusterings we heard at the end of the first episode had me cringing down to my toe nails, and brought back sad memories of “If we fight like animals, we’ll die like animals!! ‘Ere where’s he gone?”. Sylvester comes across so much better when he’s playing a quieter, darker, mysterious, calm 7th Doctor, so please can we consider leaving the mad, fussing, shouting one behind now?

One final moan and compliment for now. Getting the negative out the way first, we had the (moderately common) problem of using the same actor from a previous audio story in a similar role. Actually to be fair, for the first two episodes I didn’t notice, but as we hit the long speeches in episode three, (uncomfortable) memories of Lord Zzaal jarred with the impression I’d been building in my mind concerning Jude. Whilst I can appreciate & understand the desire to bring back solid actors for a second outing, if would be better if they could at least be given a contrasting role to avoid the unpleasant sense of déjà vu. And the compliment? This was one of the most stylish covers yet, and we finally have a regular little note inside to tell us which track to speed on to for episodes 2 & 4! At last!

Club Who by Joe Ford 15/11/02

I think Rob Matthews summed up my feelings upon buying this CD in an e-mail he recently sent me... the thought of Doctor Who doing a clubbing tale is like your Grandad trying to be cool. The trailer left me a bit cold too, what with Sophie Aldred hysterics and the hypnotic music... not really my cup of tea at all. When I finally got around to listening to it I had convinced myself I was in for hours of pain.

I was wrong, it wasn't a classic but it was another highly respectable production from Big Finish. To start with the clubbed up version of the theme music was excellent and I do hope they use it a lot more in the future. It's quisessentially Doctor Who to grow up with its audience and the music is a prime example of how it has done. In the sixties it was slow and menacing, in the seventies it was adventurous and pacey, in the eighties it was, consecutively, electric guitar inspired rock, soothingly flute-like and finally the spangly McCoy affair. The McGann theme is done with a full orchestra, presenting the higher budget of the nineties. And now in the new millenium we have a real clubbing theme, if only for one story.

I now truly believe Doctor Who can be ANYTHING. If they can wind a story around angst ridden teenagers in Ibiza there's still hope for Tom Baker's cabbage on the shoulder companion and the story set on the world of lesbian nuns (erm, maybe not). This is definitely Doctor Who for the new generation of kids, with all the supposed staples of our lives... alcohol, clubs, drugs, manic depression... it is quite a cynical look at the kids of today. If they had left it that and just had people getting high and pissed for the sake of being 'cool' i would have objected to it but, astonishingly, writer Jospeh Lister manages to make several astute comments about the youth of today that quite took me aback. Maybe the young of today are lazy and indulgent and don't have anything to fight for but the Doctor's comment that we can only advise them and not instruct struck a chord in me.

Isn't the cover beautiful? I'm amazed at how far Big Finish have come since they began with their packaging. I bought Land of the Dead with The Rapture and to compare the two is hysterical. The old ones just seemed to be old publicity shots stuck onto a picture (Shadow of the Scourge was especially bad!!) but there is some real thought going into these covers lately. Credit where it is due.

The annoying thing about The Rapture is several of the performances. The script calls for angst, so Sophie (Ace) and David (Ace's newfound brother) start screaming out the script like it's a production number! C'mon guys, lets have some subtlety here... it would have been much better if the emotion-fueled second episode was underplayed a bit so we could really get in touch with what these guys are going through. Instead I was turning down the volume as my ears were threatening to combust and wincing at the overdone emotion. I won't critisise Sophie too much as I feel her contribution to these audios is severely underated, she plays her character with the same skill she did on the telly. There was one moment in the second episode where she broke into tears, now that WAS heartbreaking. There should have been more of that level of restraint.

The worst performance comes with Caitriona (of whom nobody seems to be able to pronounce). I realise she is a manic depressive, drug obsessed teenager but half the time I felt as though she was bored with the part and just reading out lines rather than really getting to grips with it. It was quite a complex part and I think a superior actor would have made a better job of it.

However the acting plaudits go to... (drum roll)... Sylvester McCoy who is excellent throughout. This side to his Doctor, the darker, contemplative side has always suited McCoy and HE is the one actor who shows the most restraint throughout. As a result his performance is compelling and I wouldn't be adverse to seeing more of this kind of seventh Doctor in the future. His 'no I wouldn't forgive you' in the final episode is great and his address to the silent nightclub made me chuckle. Superb stuff, Mr McCoy but another of example of how inconsistent his time can be.

Enough complaints, here's the good stuff. The ideas and the story are both excellent. The exploration of one person's dependency on another is intimately brought out through the characters of Ace and Liam, Liam and Catriona and Gabriel and Jude. The latter pair come off the best and the explanation-filled third episode is crammed with a lot of emotive dialogue to cherish. I love how badly the Doctor gets it wrong when a certain character is killed. On the bright side again, Neil James and Matthew brenher are brilliant as Gabriel and Jude.

But what of the main star of the show... the music. I'm not much of a clubber these days (although in my bachelor days...) so the wordless thumps of club music don't really appeal to me but I have to say Jim Mortimore and Jane Esphelson have done a marvellous job. At times the music is just entrancing, the surreal track leading up to the end of the second episode is just one long head-fuck of music and I was hypnotised! It's catchy stuff and feels appropriately ninties enough to work. And as I said the new theme music was ace!

At the end of the day I really enjoyed The Rapture, Joe Lidster is clearly a talent to look out for in the future. It may have had a few over eager performances (and the odd phoned in one) but I was so impressed that they managed to create a Doctor Who story around a clubbing theme that wasn't an embarassment and would satisfy both Who fans and clubbers. Can Doctor Who be 'cool'? If that means can it incorperate swearing and needles and boozing then yes it can. If you mean can it still retain its propensity for cool dialogue, a gripping story and far-out imagination even though it contains those elements then that's another yes.

The Rapture proves that conclusively.

Supplement, 25/12/03:

As the seventh Doctor screams in episode four of this story "How could I have been so stupid?" I mean honestly, what was I on when I reviewed this story? How desperate for new Doctor Who was I to claim that this was cool and hip? I can only plead total insanity or that I was brainwashed like the kids visiting Ibiza in the story... because this really is one of the worst Doctor Who stories I have ever had the misfortune to re-evaluate. It's childish to the point of infancy and the performances are universally awful. I forced myself to see this through yesterday, terrified that I was wasting an hour and a half of my life that I would never see again. And this is the sort of revolutionary script Gary Russell finds engaging? Oh dear oh dear...

First let's deal with the 'acting' which frankly sinks and already poorly assembled package. Now I have been extremely critical of Sylvester McCoy's thespian skills recently and this story is where the rot really starts to set in. He was never, ever as bad on telly as he is in The Rapture, not just the casual way he spits out his lines or how he emphasises in all the wrong places, it is the amount of hysterical shouting he does that really caps this off as one of the worst Doctor performances ever. Just because everyone else is screaming their head off doesn't mean you have to join them McCoy! "Mcshane! Dorothy! Haaaaaaccccceeeee!" he cries, "Whhhhhyyyy Gustavo!" he croons, "Please let her livveeeee!" he squeals. Yes it really is that bad.

Then we have Sophie Aldred and David John as reunited brother and sister Ace (sorry McShane) and Liam. "I don't want anything to do with you!" she screams "Don't do this to me!" he cries... what is this an episode of Neighbours? As if to confirm the soap opera nature of Ace's character she spends the entire story drowning in angst, reeling from the events of the far more dramatic Colditz ("I have a thing about fascism" she says at the beginning... and the rest of us don't?) and trying to have one night off. This leads to some hugely embarrassing scenes of mature sounding Sophie Aldred forced to pretend to be grooving away in The Rapture (the hottest nightclub in town!). Once she finds out why Liam has a photo of her in his pocket it's rampant hysteria all the way. Like much of the story, all sound and fury, signifying nothing.

And anyway I don't buy this whole Ace has a secret brother anyway, what is it with Big Finish trying to 'add' to her character. She had a prolific innings in the New Adventures so just what is there still to say about Ace? They seem to be sabotaging all the good work Aldred did in seasons 25 and 26, turning Ace into some cliched copy of herself. Some of her dialogue is atrocious "I know who I am, who the Doctor is!" and the psychobabble excuses writer Joseph Lidster goes to to excuse her rebellious need for some time away from the Doctor is absurd (that the death of Kurtz happened in the TARDIS, her sanctuary when all the angst of her adventures is over). Poor, poor Sophie Aldred, such a lovely bird, she deserves more than this, forced into the role of a spiteful, selfish teen at 30 plus. Give her a nice understated role to play and I'm sure, Ghost Light style, she'll be excellent. And stop all the shouting!

One of the most galling aspects of The Rapture is how it is trying pass itself off as adult and mature when in fact it is so appallingly childish it's untrue! Look, I'm shouting now! It's almost as if Joseph Lidster was enjoying injecting all this sex, drugs and booze into Doctor Who and while I'm not adverse to any of things slipping in occasionally this amateurish overload is two fingers in the face of anybody who might want to listen to something this side of tasteful. Please don't mistake my words, I think setting a Doctor Who story in Ibiza is an incredible idea but it isn't just sex, swearing and drugs is it? Oh how naive I am! Maybe experiencing these things are a hoot and a giggle but listening to unsympathetic characters living it large ("Fan dabby doozy!") just isn't entertainment in my book.

The very thought that kids today have no wars to fight because Hitler isn't threatening to march in and turn their world into a Nazi state is, frankly, ludicrous. The world we live in can be harsh, cruel, bitter and Lidster seems to be stating that we all create mental troubles just to have something to fight, manic depression and such like. Disturbingly the Doctor seems to share this view in one of his cosy chats with Gustavo. Hmm, maybe that's why he takes so many delinquents around in that battered police box with him? I prefer to think the kids of today go to Ibiza to have a week or two away from reality, a few whacked out evenings on drugs and succumbing to the beat before being forced back into a childhood that is pretty much mapped out for them. Trying to read psychological explanations to why kids would visit Ibiza is like trying to dance about architecture, you just don't do it, do ya? Trying to 'find' the music, reading all sorts of emotion meanings in it? Hmm, I used to go clubbing to find a good shag.

Which brings me to Catriona, oh goody I've been waiting for this... forget the Co-Pilot (Weakling scum!"), Olvir (This is Terminus!") or Ainley's Master ("Hoo, hoo, hee, hee!") as we now have a winner for the worst Doctor Who character of all time (and I honestly can't imagine anyone topping her!). I don't know what sort of people Joseph Lidster hangs out with but if he knows anyone like Cat I suggest he gets her sectioned immediately. Poor old Liam tied to such a depressing, self-centred weirdo. It would help if the actress (and I used to term as loosely as possible) could reign in the character's pathetic nature and play down the more melodramatic moments. Instead Anne Bird seems to amplify them leading to some painfully childish scenes of Cat getting spitefully jealous of Liam reuniting with Ace and falling into fellow nutcase Gabriel's arms. Cat's dialogue is the worst of all ("oooh phasers on stun! See I'm a good girl I am!") Oh spare me.

What a bitch I am, there must be something nice to say? Surely I wouldn't have kept listening for 115 minutes if this was such dross? Sadly I have to report the story actually gets worse as it goes along climaxing in the most stultifying awful deux ex machina. Jude decides he won't brainwash the kids after all, the end. Wow, that was worth two hours of my life then. And the 'dramatic' scene with Dorothy (just call her Ace for Godsakes!) hanging through a window over the stunned clubbers, Jude threatening to let her go with everyone shouting (Liam: "You've killed her! You bastard! I'll kill you!" The Doctor: "Please pull Dorothy in!") is truly the nadir of all Big Finish climaxes. Like Cat, I was pretty much a manic-depressive when this was finished.

Incredibly the music for the story is FANTASTIC but not worth buying the disc to hear. Instead buy the Music from the Seventh Doctor Adventures CD where you can hear the tunes in their entirety without any of the embarrassing shouting getting in the way. The only real reason to buy The Rapture is if you're a Tony Blackburn fan (so all two of you then) or for the jazzed up version of the theme which is outstanding and should be used again. Otherwise I would give it a miss unless like me you are feeling charitable and want to give away your hard earned cash on a product that encapsulates everything that is embarrassing, crude and tasteless about Doctor Who.

Please Gary don't commission anything like this again, we fans are an unforgiving bunch.

Gallifreyan Traffic by Andrew Wixon 26/11/02

There are certain phrases which we DW fans tend to deploy without really thinking about what they mean: 'Cosmic hobo'. 'Young-old face.' 'Strange wheezing-groaning sound.' And, when it comes to reviews, 'a triumph of style over substance'. It seems to me that most of the time, when a story is described as ATOSOS, the reviewer is basically saying it's crap (which doesn't sound terribly triumphant to me). The stories that tend to get tarred with this particular brush are mostly the mid-80s ones which don't have the best of reputations in the first place (the obvious exception being Caves of Androzani - but then (good grief) who in their right minds could properly describe Caves as insubstantial), when I think it's an epithet far better suited to many of the stories of the McCoy era: Ghost Light. Curse of Fenric. Happiness Patrol. Stories where the production values and the energy of the telling conspire to hide the fact that either not very much is going on at all, or far too much is happening and God knows what it all means anyway.

This lengthy preamble (sorry) leads to me talking about The Rapture, wherein the Doctor and Ace (whoops, McShane, whoops, Dorothy - oh, sod it, that girl he hangs around with) 'ave it large in Ibiza. And, to be honest, on paper it's a very weak production indeed. McCoy's performance as the Doctor these days is not so much acting as a collection of the same peculiar mannerisms and vocal quirks, while Sophie Aldred mainly either shouts a lot or sounds bitter. I don't mean to be too harsh to Sophie as she's not left with much option - Ace is more of a cartoon now than ever before, with no connection to the youth culture the story attempts to depict.

Having said that, the story's depiction of youth culture hasn't got much connection to actual youth culture either. And for all that plot mechanics dictate it, the setting of a story that so obviously aches to be contemporary in 1997 is baffling. But the main problem with The Rapture (or 'The Rrrrapture' as McCoy calls it) is it's terribly simplistic. Human relationships, according to the story, are all easily explicable. Every guest character's motivation is explained in basic terms and in words of one syllable. It's a collection of bad amateur psychology, soap-opera melodrama, and panto-style club scenes, and it's universally rather badly acted. And this is before we even mention the turgid pacing, the fairly inexplicable cliffhanger to part two, the array of silly accents on display (the Spanish guy is exempt from this, I hasten to add)...

However - and here's where the 'style over substance' bit comes in - what should have been a disaster is rescued by some witty presentational techniques. The CD cover cheerfully rips off Fatboy Slim (I think), and is a reminder of how iconic McCoy's silhouette has become over the last fifteen years, but more importantly Jason Haigh-Ellery pulls out all the stops and his bold direction and sound design - one scene merging into another, Tony Blackburn's eccentric but poptastic contributions - just about hold it together. Certainly the way the story is told makes it far more engaging than the mechanics of the flimsy storyline, thin characterisation, and am-dram performances would suggest. This isn't a triumph of style over substance - nothing could make this script great. But the style makes The Rapture just about listenable.

(And the club remix of the theme tune is an absolute corker. Now that's what I call music!)

A Review by John Seavey 23/6/04

This one feels like it suffered badly in the editorial stage. I don't think that's the only place it suffers -- after reading earlier drafts in the Audio Scripts, Volume Three, I think that Joseph Lidster has a problem with getting tightly focused on his central concept. The different scripts drag in all sorts of extraneous material without ever really getting into the heart of the concept, and the audio has some similar problems. But I really think the heart of the problem with The Rapture comes from Ace... er, McShane.

Colditz was the first one to establish that Ace had decided to give up her nickname and go through a young-adult mid-life crisis... and it was pretty much the one thing I didn't like about Colditz. Here, Ace... McShane... continues with her angsty ways, and gets a long-lost little brother to boot (which is a problem I had -- at age 2, I could accept that she wouldn't remember a little brother, but 4? That seems a bit to old to not know at all that your mum just had a baby.) The script spends so much time on this mandated story arc that it barely has time to squeeze in nominal villains Jude and Gabriel, and much of their material is rushed or missing as a result. This, in turn, undermines their believability as villains, which makes it harder to accept the plot, which undermines the audio as a whole... I think that there should have been more killer music and drugs, and less of Sophie Aldred getting weepy. Oh, and the "stinger" ending is purely awful.

A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 28/9/04

The main purpose of The Rapture seems to be to address some of the issues concerning the former companion known as Ace (now referred to as McShane). In doing so she takes a holiday in Ibiza 1997, with the Doctor and discovers her brother along the way. The largest problem with developing the character of Ace is that so much of it has been done before in the novels so coming with new, interesting and believable ideas for her would appear to be something of a challenge. Thankfully the introduction of Liam occurs at the right time (Ace having witnessed the destruction caused by the Krill and Kurtz`s death in Dust Breeding and Colditz respectively), meaning that this sort of trauma is addressed better than it ever was in any era on television. Coupled with the fact that it gives Ace a tie to home for the first time and this would appear to be the first attempts at redeeming the character somewhat. More importantly Sophie Aldred`s performance recognises this, as she is no longer a woman portraying a teenager, but instead portrays an adult.

Similairly Sylvester McCoy is on fine form displaying cold anger in one episode and compassion the next. The supporting cast are great too, Catriona`s mental illness being convincingly portrayed by Anne Bird. And even Tony Blackburn doesn`t manage to irritate too much, given that he`s playing himself. If there are any criticisms to be levelled at the story it is the somewhat predictible plot of Gabriel and Jude using humans as soldiers to fight their war, but this aside the story is welcome for doing something interesting with Ace, and manages to entertain in its own right.

Angel of Music, Guide and Guardian by Jacob Licklider 13/3/19

This is not a story that is meant to be plot-heavy, but it explores just how good Joseph Lidster is at writing characters and continues the development of Ace that would lead into the Doctor's travels with Hex. Now, although I place the travels with Benny and the rest of the Virgin New Adventures in the gap, as I feel that's how they can fit with Nightshade's ending and the end of Lungbarrow matching up the console rooms and the fact that Ace is allowed to grow as a character before she travels again with the Doctor by The Harvest, that doesn't mean this doesn't set up the new Ace in any way. This is Ace's story, as she is the one who reunites with her brother, which adds to her emotions from the end of Colditz and ultimately leads to her departure in Love and War. Her relationship with Liam is great, as they go through fights and end up making up, which is due to the fact that Sophie Aldred is great here as Ace and David John is great as Liam. They are almost polar opposites in actions, but in thought processes they both disagree with their parents and the decisions made about their lives but address them in different ways.

The two characters also work as foils for the antagonists of the piece, Jude and Gabriel, who are siblings from another dimension. Gabriel is the broken one of the two, as he thinks he is an angel of God sent to have the actual rapture happen in Ibiza in 1997 through the music they make as a team. Gabriel, is great as he is so damaged, and Jude is the caring brother who just wants to live his life to the fullest. They are both preying on the damaged people who come to party as Ibiza is a place of sex, drugs and alcohol running rampant. I sympathize with their plight in this story, even if they are both so misguided. They are both extremely well-acted and I found them enjoyable.

In New Adventures fashion, the Doctor is a minor character and is paired up with Gustavo a bartender the Doctor saved from the Spanish Civil War. They are both old melancholic men wanting a bit of a holiday, which is really good in the story, and I just love all the drama that comes from these characters making the decision. I do have some problems with the story, however, as Part Four ruins the tension buildup as the plot is resolved early on; if this story could have ended with Part Three and a second story was inserted, the pacing would be much tighter. I feel, however, that I have to comment on the excellent music, which deserves a credit as you just feel it happening. Now I have been vague about this one on purpose, as it is a very love it or hate it so you really just need to listen to this one and make your own decision.

To summarize, The Rapture is a great leadin to the Virgin New Adventures and the adventures with Hex, but there are several problems, and the fact that this story has a very adult tone may put some people off. The acting and music are both top-notch, as some of the best of Big Finish with Lidster being a brilliant writer who needs to do more. Again I just have to tell you to give this one a listen yourself before deciding what you think of the story. The score I give it is based off my personal enjoyment more than anything, as there are so many different reactions to this one. 80/100.