Audio Drama Review: The Paternoster Gang – The Cars That Ate London! ★★★★

Big Finish, producers of cult sci-fi audio dramas, and the BBC have released one of their lesbian-led Paternoster Gang stories for free on YouTube. The full-cast drama features the trio of characters from the BBC’s queer-friendly hit-series Doctor Who, spun off into their own adventures.

The Paternoster Gang are the sword-wielding Madame Vastra (a reptilian Silurian from a pre-human era of Earth), her human wife Jenny Flint, and their butler Strax (a former military warrior from a cloned race called the Sontarans). The three tackle extraterrestrial encounters in Victorian London.

Now the BBC Youtube channel have released The Cars that Ate London! written by Jonathan Morris. The Paternoster Gang face a genius industrialist who is promoting a world free from pollution, running on clean electricity. But is Victorian London ready for electric cars? Madame Vastra knows such ideas are far ahead of their time…

The Youtube video begins with an introduction to the characters and some brief interviews with cast talking about their journey from the TV screen to continuing audio stories, before the 45min long story begins, the first episode of The Paternoster Gang.

The trio were first introduced in the Doctor Who episode A Good Man Goes To War in 2011 written by showrunner Stephen Moffatt. Friends of the Doctor (then played by Matt Smith) they have since appeared in a number of on-screen episodes and their adventures have continued in a range of BBC authorised audio dramas by Big Finish.

Doctor Who has had no shortage of queer characters (and marriages) but the Paternoster Gang were one of the few to become recurring characters, thanks to the charismatic performances of Neve MacIntosh, Catrin Stewart and Dan Starkey.

And it’s a fun romp of an adventure. Vastra has an imperious personality (she reminds me of Glenn Close for some reason I can’t place) the kind of Victorian adventurer you’d find in an H.G. Wells novel. Her wife Jenny, who pretends to be the maid to disguise their relationship from less enlightened eyes, is more impetuous; a blend of the Artful Dodger and Batman’s sidekick Robin. While Strax gives the trio some comedic relief as well as brute force. If you’re a fan of Doctor Who (or even the BBC drama Gentleman Jack) you’ll enjoy this.

By Chad Armstrong

You can get more details on the gang and their ongoing adventures on the Big Finish website. Listen to the first episode for free now:

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