Saturday 30 April 2016

The Curse of the Fugue

Lucie Miller. Lucie “Piggin” Miller. What is there to say? She was magnificent – THE companion for the 8th Doctor in the same way that Jo was THE companion for 3, Sarah-Jane was THE companion for 4 & Donna was THE companion for 10. She shone so brightly over four series and then was gone – a real character, a believable character, we all know someone like Lucie Miller. Whilst she was undoubtedly well written, a character that writers just seemed to “get” and write well, her characterisation is in no small part down to the astounding Sheridan Smith, one of the UK’s best and most celebrated actors – on paper Lucie could have been just a loud mouthed working class girl from Blackpool – Sheridan Smith took the character and made her her own. So it was with great joy that I found out one dark grim January day that Sheridan Smith was returning as Lucie Miller for a couple of Short Trips releases, the first of these being this months “The Curse of the Fugue” by Alice Cavender.
 Its 1974, and it all seems a bit grim – power cuts, foil top milk bottles and worst of all The Doctor has left Lucie to work as a carer in an old peoples home whilst he goes off investigating a mysterious device. Its so lovely to hear Lucie Miller again – her reappearance is tinged with sadness as we already know what her fate is going to be – but just hearing her character in this short interlude is magical – Sheridan Smith brings her back to life, its like she has never been away – Lucie is obviously not at all happy at being left behind by The Doctor and entertains the residents of the home by telling them about the future (she doesn’t seem to care much for the laws of time!) to keep the spirits up between power cuts. Amazingly for just about half of this 32 minute release the story seems to be a straight historical period piece about being stuck in the 1970’s, the atmosphere is just spot on – and then we get to find out just why The Doctor has left Lucie here – because one of the residents is not exactly what she seems and may (or may not) have been a secret agent during World War 2, and may (or may not) know something about the artefact that The Doctor is looking for.
 With bags of character and a feeling of cold, damp winters days, this release has a slightly maudlin quality and is very slow to get to the plot, however this really does give time to build on the all important 1970’s atmosphere – Sheridan Smith is quite quite fantastic playing Lucie coming back to her with ease after a gap of five years, bringing joy to the listener that she is back, but making the listener remember as well that this is a fleeting interlude and that her fate is already sealed. Power cuts, the elderly, a super weapon and an even more super Lucie Miller all combine to give this 8/10.

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