Flywheel Revolution begins a new strand for Big Finish; a monthly, down-load only short story, the perfect length to listen to on a commute or when you have half an hour to spare. Flywheel Revolution immediately pins its colours to the mast: although it’s narrated by Peter Purves, Steven Taylor is nowhere to be heard. this is told from the perspective of a little lost robot, to whom the First Doctor is a terrifying alien visitant.
The little robot, Frankie, has a broken timer which means he can’t navigate around his planet. He’s therefore been consigned to the scrap heap with other robots that are defective in some way, locked away inside a huge wall. But Frankie is a persistent little chap, and he has heard tales of a monster that is eviscerating robots on the scrap heap. Fearlessly, Frankie goes in search of the monster - and discovers a strange old man lurking in the junkyard.
Quite what this says about the First Doctor is anyone’s guess - he does seem to have an unhealthy predilection for loitering in amongst scrap metal. Writer Dale Smith doesn’t dwell on this quirk, however. Instead, he paints a picture of a Doctor whose fierce aspect hides a compassionate, independent-minded traveller. Charmingly, in the little robot that doesn’t know where it’s going, the Doctor finds a kindred spirit, and sets about helping his new friend gain freedom from the junkyard where he’s been confined.
Of course, the Doctor recognises that conformity and obedience are the real walls that confine the junkyard robots, and by recognising and harnessing their imperfections, they really can change the world. After all, that’s how it all started for him.
Purves’ narration is clear, compelling and effective, keeping this listener thoroughly engaged. His impression of First Doctor William Hartnell is kindly and avuncular. It’s sweeter than the real deal, but works well, particularly combined with Smith’s descriptions of the Doctor’s mannerisms.
Playing out like an episode of 1960s science-fiction series Out of the Unknown, Flywheel Revolution has a beautifully retro feel to it, and is an entirely likeable start to the series.