Since 2008, BBC Audio has been doing their own audio dramas to cover new series of Doctor Who stories while Big Finish covers the classic era. BBC has even done some original audiobooks of the classic Doctors read by their companions and others for the fiftieth anniversary. “The Tales of Winter” represent the first four audio stories featuring the Twelfth Doctor and Clara Oswald, including: “The Gods of Winter”, “The House of Winter”, “The Sins of Winter”, and “The Memory of Winter”. With the members of the Winter family in possession of a mysterious calling card that can summon the Doctor from any point in time and space, he and Clara are effectively at their beck and call for any number of crises.
The first audiobook, “The Gods of Winter” is written by James Goss and read by Clare Higgins, who you may remember from “The Night of the Doctor” and other episodes in which she played Ohilia, a member of the Sisterhood of Karn. The story sees the Doctor and Clara plucked from their travels by Amanda Winter, a little girl whose mother is in charge of a colony that’s being attacked by mysterious aliens. Though the Doctor is able to establish peace between the two parties, he’s summoned again by Amanda as an adult to address the mysterious cause of the aliens’ hostility. The story is quite good, not just the story’s conflict, but also the strange question of how the Winter family got a hold of this card which is possibly one of the universe’s most powerful objects. Clare Higgins’s reading keeps you engaged, though her impression of Peter Capaldi could be better, it’s fun to hear a Doctor Who story read by Ohilia.
The second story in the series is “The House of Winter” by George Mann and read by David Schofield, who played Odin in “The Girl Who Died” last series. Summoned once again by the Winter family, this time by Justin Winter, the Doctor and Clara find themselves trapped along with Winter and his two servants in a grand house on a distant colony. As the group searches for a way out of the house, it becomes clear that they are not alone and are being stalked by a larger, humanoid version of the planet’s bloodmoths. Of course, all is not as it seems and Mr. Winter, as well as the creature, are both hiding a major secret. The story is one of the more terrifying in the series and is helped by Schofield’s reading, though his impression of Capaldi is probably the worst and he gives up on it shortly into the story.
The third tale is called “The Sins of Winter” which is also written by Goss and this time read by Robin Soans, who’s appeared in both the classic and new series in “The Keeper of Trakken” and “Face the Raven”. Summoned this time by Shadrak Winter, the High Cardinal of the Cult of the Prime Self, the Doctor, and Clara must help Winter as his sins are manifesting as large, sluglike creatures that induce paralyzing guilt in their victims to feed off their sins. Much as with the previous story, Winter is hiding a major secret and the Doctor and Clara find themselves effectively trapped in this place and time. The Sinful, the name for the slugs, actually make for an even more frightening villain and though the story lacks the same mystery, it dials up the terror significantly. Soans reading lends a further eeriness to the story and this was one of my favourites of the four tales.
The last story in the “Tales of Winter” series is “The Memory of Winter” also written by Mann and this time read by Jemma Redgrave, none other than Kate Lethbridge-Stewart. As the Doctor and Clara get dropped into the Hundred Years’ war by the time-traveling Julius Winter, they find Julius’s historical research team under siege by a mysterious assailant. The group is joined in their fight by none other than Joan of Arc and her handmaiden, who is one of Julius’s ancestors. The cause of the trouble comes from the Doctor’s own people, the Timelords, and the mystery of how the calling card came into the Winter family’s possession is definitively answered. Of all four, Jemma Redgrave’s reading is my favorite. She possesses a great sense of the story’s tone and the voices of the characters, which makes her impression of Peter Capaldi the best. The overarching story wraps up well here and they’re all worth listening to if you love Doctor Who audios.