Roman Week: Big Finish - Doctor Who 100 BC Review

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Andrew East pays Julias and Julia a visit.

100 BC is one of the single episode stories presented on Big Finish's hundredth release, 100, featuring Colin Baker as the 6th Doctor and Maggie Stables as Evelyn Smythe (and one of the few Doctor Who stories that is titled simply after the date it is set). It sees the Doctor and Evelyn arrive in 100 BC and inadvertently (or so they think) prevent Julius Caesar from being born as a boy. With a bit of hopping to 101 BC and back again they realise the Doctor has been getting his dates mixed up and all is well.

100 BC is a fun story from Jacqueline Rayner but I can't help but think Evelyn spends the entire time completely out of character. She is determined to change history and make sure Julius Caesar is born a girl so that girl's get to rule the world. After her first introduction to time travel in The Marian Conspiracy, which saw her disappearing from the present due to changes in history, you would have thought she was more aware of the consequences of messing with established events.

That aside her and the Doctor's embarrassing encounters with Mr and Mrs Caesar (senior) are hilarious and see the Doctor playing romantic music (Greensleeves!) and cooking a sensual supper to entice them to sleep together to ensure Julius is born a boy. Likewise, Evelyn's performance to get rid of the Doctor is, if transparent as crystal (making one wonder why the Doctor falls for it), good for a laugh.

The Doctor (in typical 6th Doctor style) gives us a mini history lesson, and it occured to me whilst listening that this is the earliest period of history we have seen the 6th Doctor visit. He mentions a bunch of Greek contempories (Aristotle and Plato) until Evelyn calls him and mentions that they are in Rome, to which he combats with the poet Catallus, the philosopher Cicero and Caesar himself. Evelyn is less impressed by the market they find themselves in and compares the area the senior Caesar's live to Hackney. The soundscape presents various stallholders including some selling magic spells and others selling fish. Mention is also made of pie sellers and common roman food such as peacock brains and flamingo tongues.

The lynchpin of this story is Julia Caesar, the elder sister of Julius Caesar. Neither the Doctor nor Evelyn seem aware of her existence for, if they were, the case of mistaken time divergence would not have arisen. I'm presuming she was a real person, but like many women in history, was lost in the shadow of her more famous brother. There is also a discussion of the origin of the term 'caesarean' (not from Caesar as popular myth would have it apparently).

All things considered, 100 BC is a fun story, albeit a little bit of an odd one as the 6th Doctor and Evelyn both act a bit out of character (the Doctor's bizarre 'warning from the future' shtick; Evelyn's passion to change recorded history). The plot is fairly simple, revolving around a basic time mistake, but a feeling for the history of the period is nicely portrayed in the short amount of time. However, the two guest stars, Will Thorp and Lucy Paterson (as Gaius and Aurelia) are given very little to do, again partly due to the short running time.

A primary school teacher and father of two, Andrew East finds respite in the worlds of Doctor Who, Disney and general geekiness. Unhealthily obsessed with Lance Parkin’s A History, his Doctor Who viewing marathon is slowly following Earth history from the Dawn of Time to the End of the World. He would live in a Disney theme park if given half the chance.

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