The Fan Can
The four parts are peppered with season-high performances. Ian Reddington steals most of the loudest plaudits, a masterpiece performance of relished evil, all whispered lines and camp hand swings, but TP McKenna is also great as Captain Cook, a tea-devouring adventurer from the Rudyard Kipling school of colonial haughtiness. A big shout out too to Daniel Peacock who brings some bracing punk aggro into the world of Doctor Who as Nord, “vandal of the roads”.
DVD Customer Review
Doctor Who was finding its footing again, although the story is burdened by throwing as many disparate elements as possible (including an animated corpse, a wolf girl and even the Gods of Ragnarok) into the mix. The Gods, not unlike the audience, demand to be kept entertained, but for the most part the best the Doctor can do is some cheap conjuring tricks while waiting for the inevitable climax. The most effective element throughout is the menace provided by Ian Reddingon (a regular on EastEnders) as the Chief Clown, sending victims to their doom with wave of his hand and a perpetual smile painted on his face. –Ryan K. Johnson
Greatest Show In The Galaxy is a cherishably surreal voyage into previously unknown territory. Taking as its starting point the oft-repeated maxim that clowns are scary (they are, you know), the story plays with some deliciously bizarre imagery
The story meanders slightly in parts 3 and 4, but these are minor quibbles in a production that boasts so much – among them chilling incidental music, terrific visual effects (especially the monsters, whom I am not giving away), and Ian Reddington’s terrifying performance as the Chief Clown.
If Doctor Who cold frighten anyone over the age of ten, this is one story that could do it. There has always been something peculiarly sinister about clowns and it is amazing that the series really hadn’t used them before. The visual effects are quite good and Ian Reddington is outstanding as the chief clown. This was an excellent Doctor Who of all time.
Fan Site Review
So these are two good points about this story. But neither of them are the best. The best thing about this one is the Chief Clown, and to a lesser extent the other clowns. Ian Reddington delivers a wonderfully sinister performance in a role that could have descended into Batman-style camp. He’s one of the most menacing figures in Doctor Who history – the smiling (well, sneering) face paint concealing a deep seated malevolence.