Casting a Curse
Curses and tombs, revenge from beyond the grave - and Dick Turpin! England, 1738. On the trail of a lost book, the Doctor and Charley arrive at the beautiful country estate of Sir Ralph and Lady Sybil. But all is far from idyllic. There's a murderer on the loose, and the nearby woods are the haunt of the notorious highwayman Dick Turpin. And that's not all. Something else has journeyed here. Something that could destroy the very fabric of reality. The Doctor and Charley have just forty-eight hours to solve the mystery before the whole world succumbs to The Doomwood Curse.
Illustration by Brian Williamson
Tome of Darkness
Another Sixth Doctor story starring Colin Baker as the sixth Doctor. This time travelling with companion Charley Pollard, played by India Fisher, who's voice is known by many through her voice-over work on television programmes like MasterChef. Also appearing are Nicky Henson and Hayley Atwell.
The story is, quite literally, based on the book Rookwood by William Harrison Ainsworth. Raynor captures the essence of the book beautifully with many twists and turns while tailoring the story to the world of Doctor Who. This dark tale stuff is my forte when it comes to imagination and being full of ghostly happenings, mysterious curses and a chilling atmosphere, The Doomwood Curse was a pleasurable venture.
Because this was one of very few stories that I knew about before it was recorded, it meant I could go down to London for the second day of studio recordings during May, 2008. Watching Colin Baker, India Fisher, Hayley Atwell and Nicky Henson deliver their lines was a pure delight and I finally discovered why the Big Finish lunches were so famous! We had a beautiful chocolate gateau and since I wasn't at all keen on cherries I left mine on the plate only to be told of by none other than the sixth Doctor! I was bursting to 'squee' like a little girly fan. After the studio session finished I had some time before my train back to Nottingham. I spent an hour outside a bar drinking on a lovely spring evening with director Barnaby Edwards and web genius Paul Wilson. I will never forget that day. It was better than any Doctor Who convention I've been to by far, well, maybe only matched by Who at the Cavern in Liverpool the very same month The Doomwood Curse was recorded. I got to sit on a sofa backstage, chat to Nicola Bryant and meet Doctor Who fans, who are now very good friends. I met a hoard of people that knew me that evening and it was completely unexpected!
More horses! I need more horses! Knowing that the horse sounds I recorded when doing Assassin in the Limelight just wasn't enough, I called another company just north of Nottingham that teaches people to ride and jump. The owner very kindly agreed to have two riders help me with my endeavours and with my H4 recorder to hand we headed to a field containing a circular dirt track and then to a harder surface gravel path. I used the H4 to record distant sound and the horses approaching while one of the riders took the H2 to record a 'point of view' sound.
The H4 also gave a very interesting wind sound when waving it through the air using the built in condenser microphones. I used this effect and slowed it right down to create the sound of the curse being drawn into the box at the end of the story.
Due to the historical nature of The Doomwood Curse, most other sounds were easily recorded. The tea party in the garden during a summer evening was a scene I felt should sooth the listener. I took to the woods and recorded trees rustling in the wind and birds singing away. Though quite simple, this is one of my favourite scenes in this story.
Creating a Summer Evening
Recording in the woods for the summer evening tea party with the Zoom H2 and DT100 headphones.
Above my desk is an image I created of the 1966 title sequence with the Big Finish logo instead of Doctor Who.
I really enjoyed composing the music for The Doomwood Curse. From the moment I read the script I knew exactly how the music should sound and it all came from once scene. The gate jump! This scene represents the heart of the story, highwayman Dick Turpin's legendary 200 mile ride from London to York in one night on his steed Black Bess. Early on in production I came up with a simple drum beat while out cycling through woodland to Rufford Park. Luckily I had learned to keep my voice recorder with me all the time and the Doomwood theme was born. I quickly composed a piece of music for this scene and used it in the trailer for the story. It worked beautifully! Like Assassin in the Limelight, this story has a flash-forward scene. I composed a long piece of tension building music to accommodate the entire finale scene with a mid-section full of strings to help enhance the tragic end to Turpin's life. Another theme I composed was the Broomwood theme heard during the tea party. A peaceful theme designed to work with that summer evening feel. I also composed a ghostly crypt presence for those darker scenes. I completely fell in love with working on Big Finish productions with The Doomwood Curse and I was keen to do more!
What the critics say...
"I think it also has be noted just how impressive Martin Johnson's score for this play is. The edgy and creeping but also rather fanciful rhythms that underline the whole play really encapsulate its spirit." www.doctorwhoreviews.co.uk
Based in Nottingham, UK