Donna Noble is back at home and taking a break from traveling with the Doctor. But it’s not long before she finds herself in trouble in Out of this World, the first episode of her own Doctor Who spin-off series!
Big Finish has created a huge number of Doctor Who spin-offs over the years. From established companions to characters that only appeared in one story, there have been many who’ve been given their moment to shine. So it’s unsurprising that they’ve done the same for Donna Noble.
Except, based on opening episode Out of this World, this spin-off feels a little different. For one thing, it doesn’t have its own theme tune, like Jenny: The Doctor’s Daughter or Rose Tyler: The Dimension Cannon. Instead, Donna Noble: Kidnapped! uses the Doctor Who theme tune, specifically the one used for Series 4 and the following Tenth Doctor specials.
It becomes clear why very quickly. Donna Noble: Kidnapped! is firmly set during Series 4, while Donna is still traveling with the Doctor. Which makes a lot of sense, considering exactly how her travels with the Doctor ended. Specifically, the series is set almost immediately after Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, where Donna had lived another life entirely.
Writer Jacqueline Rayner is keen to explore how Donna is coping after that story. After all, she hadn’t just lived another life – she had lost it, too. It’s clear that she needs time to recover from it all, which is why she’s taking a break from traveling with the Doctor and spending some time at home. Of course, since she’s also spending time with her mother Sylvia, it won’t be much of a stress-free break…
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Donna’s home life
Sylvia has a key role in this episode. While it’s always great to hear Jacqueline King in the role, what stands out in this particular episode is that we get to see another side to her. Underneath all of her all-knowing and even controlling attitude, it’s clear that she does care about Donna. Rayner has given the character plenty of great little scenes that make her much more sympathetic. It’s a refreshing take on the character.
But it’s not just Donna’s mother who features in this episode. We also get to meet her best friend: Natalie Morrison, a close friend she’s known since school. Nat’s played by Niky Wardley, not only a Big Finish veteran (she even played Eighth Doctor companion Tamzin for a while), but someone who’s worked with Tate a lot already. So their pairing works extremely well.
As for the story itself, Out of this World highlights what makes Donna such a fantastic character. Investigating a mystery after going speed-dating, we’re reminded of how smart Donna can be on her own terms, especially when the Doctor isn’t around to help her out this time. The story takes a few surprising twists and turns, too, and goes in directions that you don’t expect it to. Overall, it’s a decent opening story for this box set.
But it’s the character exploration that really makes Out of this World stand out. We get to see different sides to both Donna and her mother, giving us some excellent character moments while still giving us a plot that would suit Series 4 very well.
Are you glad that Donna Noble’s finally been given her own series? Do you think Donna’s home life should have been explored more on television? Let us know in the comments below.