I had to listen to Grace Knight’s Short Trip, These Stolen Hours, as it stars the best-ever Doctor Who audio companion, India Fisher. Fisher narrates a first-person story of Charley Pollard — the frame is set during Charley’s time as a Viyran agent (either between Patient Zero and Blue Forgotten Planet, or between Blue Forgotten Planet and Charlotte Pollard Series One; I didn’t notice any clues that would pin it down further), and the main action during Charley’s time travelling with the Sixth Doctor (so somewhere between The Condemned and Patient Zero).
Knight hasn’t written much in the Doctor Who universe for Big Finish (only a Torchwood), but she shows an instant affinity for Charlotte Pollard, Edwardian Adventuress — capturing both the character’s original energy and her slightly more dour outlook of her later era. This is a small but sweet little story about loves lost and refound, as Charley and the Doctor investigate mysterious goings-on on a transparent space station. Knight uses the format well, skipping through irrelevant action with narration (we don’t need to hear the Doctor ingratiate himself with local authorities, or make deductions about how to solve a technobabble problem), allowing the story to focus on the emotional moments and construct an effective parallel between Charley’s situation and those of the guest characters. The Sixth Doctor is captured well in his positive and negative dimensions, too.
Fisher puts in a strong performance of a strong story, making it clear why she’s one of Big Finish’s best finds. I hope that Charlotte Pollard Series Three brings Charley’s story up to date soon, but in the interim, this is a good reminder of her heights.
These Stolen Hours (by Grace Knight; read by India Fisher) was released by Big Finish Productions in August 2020.