For a while now, I’ve been posting reactions to big “meaty” arcs such as The Eighth Doctor Adventures, Dark Eyes, Doom Coalition and The Collected War Doctor. Some of the stories I plan to listen to in the near future, though, are either one-off adventures or three story arcs. I thought it would be easier on the indexer (Hi, Bob!) if I started one “catch-all” thread and maintain the index in the initial post myself. I invite others to contribute to this discussion as well, and it doesn’t have to be strictly Doctor Who, either; anything from Big Finish will qualify. I’m going to start in a couple of days) with…
The Company of Friends - (Eighth Doctor)
Benny's Story - p1
Fitz's Story - p1
Izzy's Story - p2
Mary's Story - p2
The Transposition Trilogy
The Defectors - (Seventh Doctor and Jo Grant) - p2
Last of the Cyberman - (Sixth Doctor, Jamie and Zoe) - p2
The Secret History - (Fifth Doctor, Stephen and Vicki) - p2
The Masters Trilogy
And You Will Obey Me - (Fifth Doctor and old Master) - p3
Vampire of the Mind - (Sixth Doctor and new Master) - p3
The Two Masters - (Seventh Doctor and both Masters) - p4
Doctor Who "Bonus Releases"
Her Final Flight - (Sixth Doctor and Peri) - p4
Cryptobiosis - (Sixth Doctor and Peri) - p4
Return of the Daleks - (Seventh Doctor) - p5
Return to the Web Planet - (Fifth Doctor and Nyssa) - p5
Trial of the Valeyard - (Sixth Doctor) - p3
Doctor Who - Novel Adaptations
Love & War
Sixth Doctor Reunited with Peri
The Widow's Assassin - p4
Masters of Earth
The Rani Elite
Eighth Doctor and Mary Shelley
The Silver Turk - p5
The Witch from the Well - p7
Army of Death - p7
The Third Doctor Adventures
Prisoners of the Lake - p5
The Havoc of the Empires - p5
The Tenth Doctor Adventures (Vol. 2)
Infamy of the Zaross - p6
The Sword of the Chevalier - p6
Cold Vengeance - p6
4.12. Solitaire - (Charlotte Pollard vs. The Celestial Toymaker) - p12
51. The Wormery – (Sixth Doctor) - p7
57. Arrangements for War – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p8
60. Medicinal Purposes – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p8, 12
65. The Juggernauts – (Sixth Doctor & Mel) - p8
68. Catch 1872 – (Sixth Doctor & Mel) - p8
73. Thicker Than Water – (Sixth Doctor, Mel & Evelyn) - p9
75. Scaredy Cat – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C'rizz) - p9
77. Other Lives – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C’rizz) - p9
78. Pier Pressure – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p9
80. Time Works – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C’rizz) - p9
83. Something Inside – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C’Rizz) - p9
84. The Nowhere Place – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p9
86. The Reaping – (Sixth Doctor & Peri) - p7
90. Year of the Pig – (Sixth Doctor & Peri) - p7
88. Memory Lane – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C’rizz) - p10
94. I.D. – (Sixth Doctor) - p10
97. The Wishing Beast – (Sixth Doctor & Mel) - p10
100. 100 – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p11
101. Absolution – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C’rizz) - p10
103. The Girl Who Never Was – (Eighth Doctor & Charley) - p11
107. The Haunting of Thomas Brewster – (Fifth Doctor & Nyssa) - p12
108. Assassin in the Limelight – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p11
110. The Boy That Time Forgot – (Fifth Doctor & Nyssa) - p12
113. Time Reef – (Fifth Doctor & Nyssa) - p12
140. A Death in the Family – (Seventh Doctor & Evelyn) - p12
143. The Crimes of Thomas Brewster – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p12
144. The Feast of Axos – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p12
145. Industrial Evolution – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p12
149. Robophobia – (Seventh Doctor & Liv Chenka) - p2
150. Recorded Time & Other Stories (Sixth Doctor & Peri) - p13
156. The Curse of Davros – (Sixth Doctor & Flip) - p13
157. The Fourth Wall – (Sixth Doctor & Flip) - p13
158. Wirrn Isle – (Sixth Doctor & Flip) - p13
166. The Acheron Pulse – (Sixth Doctor) - p13
169. The Wrong Doctors - (Sixth Doctor & Mel) - p3
170. Spaceport Fear - (Sixth Doctor & Mel)
171. The Seeds of War - (Sixth Doctor & Mel)
178. 1963: Fanfare for the Commonmen - (Fifth Doctor & Nyssa) - p14
179. 1963: The Space Race - (Sixth Doctor & Peri)
180. 1963: The Assassination Games - (Seventh Doctor & Ace)
182. Antidote to Oblivion - (Sixth Doctor & Flip)
183. The Blood of Erys - (Sixth Doctor & Flip)
184. The Scavenger - (Sixth Doctor & Flip)
188. Breaking Bubbles & Other Stories - (Sixth Doctor & Peri) - P13
192. The Widow's Assassin - (Sixth Doctor reunited with Peri)
193. Masters of Earth - (Sixth Doctor reunited with Peri)
194. The Rani Elite - (Sixth Doctor reunited with Peri)
204. Criss-Cross - (Sixth Doctor & Constance)
205. Planet of the Rani - (Sixth Doctor & Constance)
206. Shield of the Jotunn - (Sixth doctor & Constance)
218. Order of the Daleks - (Sixth Doctor & Constance)
219. Absolute Power - (Sixth Doctor & Constance)
220. Quicksilver - (Sixth Doctor, Constance & Flip)
225. Vortex Ice / Cortex Fire - (Sixth Doctor & Flip)
231. The Behemoth - (Sixth Doctor, Constance & Flip)
232. The Middle - (Sixth Doctor, Constance & Flip)
233. Static - (Sixth Doctor, Constance & Flip)
THE CURSE OF DAVROS:
“It's been a year since Philippa 'Flip' Jackson found herself transported by Tube train to battle robot mosquitoes on a bizarre alien planet in the company of a Time Lord known only as 'the Doctor'.
“Lightning never strikes twice, they say. Only now there's a flying saucer whooshing over the top of the night bus taking her home. Inside: the Doctor, with another extraterrestrial menace on his tail – the Daleks, and their twisted creator Davros!
“But while Flip and the fugitive Doctor struggle to beat back the Daleks' incursion into 21st century London, Davros's real plan is taking shape nearly 200 years in the past, on the other side of the English Channel. At the battle of Waterloo...”
I think “The Curse of Davros” is a better introduction to the character Flip than “The Crimes of Thomas Brewster,” her actual first appearance. The story begins with Flip and her boyfriend, Jarrod, sighting a UFO crash landing. Inside is the Doctor, but he is quite disoriented. He doesn’t recognize Flip at first, but he knows that he in on the run from the Daleks. She takes him back to her apartment to hide him, and she ad Jarrod get mixed up in the Daleks’ latest plan, which involves mind transfer between Daleks and human beings.
Jarrod is one of the humans who has his mind swapped with a Dalek, and by the end of part two, it is revealed that Davros’ mind is inhabiting the Doctor’s body and vice versa. Part three flashes back to reveal how that happened. Jarrod gets his own mind back, but is transported in time to the Battle of Waterloo. It is the Daleks’ intention to switch the minds of Napoleon’s army with Dalek minds, win the Battle of Waterloo and change the course of human history.
“Mind swap” stories are always great fun for the actors, and are highly entertaining for the audience as well if done well. There is another audio in which the Sixth Doctor’s mind is switched with Peri’s, giving Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant the opportunity to assay each other’s roles, and this time it’s Baker and Terry Molloy’s turn. I don’t know how they do it, but there’s something about the way the two actors pitch their performances so that, after the reveal, there’s never any question that Colin Baker is playing Davros and Terry Molloy is playing the Doctor. There’s even one scene, after their minds have been switched back, when the Doctor attempts to maintain the ruse that he is, in fact, Davros. It’s actually possible to tell the difference between Collin Baker playing the Doctor, Collin Baker playing Davros, and Collin Baker playing the Doctor pretending to be Davros pretending to be the Doctor.
After everything has been set right and the Doctor takes his leave of Flip and Jarrod, at the last possible second Flip hops aboard the TARDIS.
WRITER’S NOTES by Jonathan Morris:
“We always knew Lisa Greenwood would be coming back. Her performance as ‘Flip’ in ‘The Crimes of Thomas Brewster’ was so good there was never any doubt about it. So I was not altogether surprised when Alan Barnes sent me an e-mail asking if I’d like to write a story where Flip becomes the Doctor’s companion.
“I was, however, surprised and literally bouncing up and down with excitement when I got to the part of the e-mail mentioning that the story should also include the Daleks. And Davros. And that it should—ah, but you’ll have to listen to the story to find out what the third thing was.
“As previous Davros stories had gone down the ‘psychological’ route, being deliberately intimate and small-scale, I thought I would do the opposite and write the most spectacular, blockbuster-ish story imaginable. Featuring Napoleon Bonaparte, the Duke of Wellington, the Battle of Waterloo and as many violent deaths as possible, its working title was ‘Waterloo of the Daleks.’
“In researching the battle, I strived to be as historically accurate as possible (referring to The Battle by Alessandro Barbero). However, as the story concerns time travel, spaceships and Daleks, there is a limit to quite how historically accurate it can be…”
DIRECTOR’S NOTES by Nicholas Briggs:
“Directing ‘The Curse of Davros’ was particularly enjoyable for me. Not only was I working with Colin again, which is always lovely (sort of feels like coming home), but there was a new companion to introduce (the fantastic Flip)! And there was Terry Molloy, who is just a phenominal performer—so easygoing and so perfect as Davros.
“But on top of all that, there was the Battle of Waterloo. What’s so special about that? Well, aside from the obvious historical significance, in that it prevented Napoleon Bonaparte from taking over Europe and possibly the world, this battle was my first childhood encounter with history. I remember, in junior school, how my teacher related the story of the battle, blow by blow, re-enacting key moments in front of us. I can still see him crouching, holding his imaginary musket, bayonet, fixed, ready to repel Marshall Ney’s ill-advised charge at the allied square formations. This childhood experience was the reason why poor writer Jonny Morris got a lot of flak from me for his first draft storyline. Let us say he’d been a tiny bit cavalier with his treatment of history… and after he’d read my particularly bumptious e-mail about how ‘I know all about the Battle of Waterloo, mate!’ he bought himself a rather thick book on the subject—and now he’s even more of an expert than me!”
THE FOURTH WALL:
“Business is bad for intergalactic media mogul Augustus Scullop, whose Trans-Gal empire is on the rocks. But, having retreated to his own private planet, Transmission, Scullop is about to gamble his fortune on a new show, made with an entirely new technology. And the name of that show… is Laser.
“Back in the real world, far from the realms of small screen sci-fi fantasies about monsters and aliens, the Doctor is interested only in watching Test Match cricket… but finds himself drawn into Scullop’s world when his new travelling companion, Flip, is snatched from inside the TARDIS.
“So, while the Doctor uncovers the terrible secret of Trans-Gal’s new tech, Flip battles to survive in a barren wilderness ruled over by the indestructible Lord Krarn and his pig-like servants, the Warmongers. And the name of that wilderness… is ‘Stevenage’.”
The new technology developed by “media mogul Augustus Scullop” (as mentioned in the introduction) is a way to project 3-D television images into the viewer’s home. The problem arises when these fictional characters “escape” into the real world. It also provides the voice actors the opportunity to play dual roles: the actors within the story as well as the characters they portray. Additionally, Flip has been snatched from reality and deposited into the machine that creates the 3-D images. From her point of view, she is still in the real world, but if she dies in the machine she perishes in reality as well.
The “fictional” being who escape to the real world believe themselves to be real, and although the Doctor must sacrifice one of them along the way, it is treat as the real death of a real person. In his notes below, John Dorney discusses the act of a writer killing his characters. [ADDITIONAL SPOILER] the character he is referring to is Flip, who is killed at the end of act two. She is truly dead and is out of the play until the Doctor concocts a way to bring her back to life at the end of act four. I know that Flip goes on to appear in future stories, but listeners at the time may have thought she was introduced only to create a sympathetic death. [END SPOILER]
Nicholas Briggs says (below) that fans don’t like comedies, but I like one every once in a while to break things up. This isn’t a straight-up comedy, but the inept pig-like Warmongers are quite humorous.
WRITER’S NOTES by John Dorney
“I hate killing people. Fictional people, I should clarify. Not real ones. I actually find killing real people quite fun. But my own characters, now that’s a different matter. I’ve created them, brought them into life, nurtured them, watched them grow. They are, in a very pretentious sense, my children. And I often have to murder them. I’m a writer of action adventure sci-fi. As a genre it’s all about death. Death on a grand scale. I kill my babies all the time. It’s part of the job. I don’t like it.
Authors have a responsibility to their characters, you see. Just as I wouldn’t wish to die purely on the whim of some celestial author, the thoughtless swish of his pen ending my existence for the sake of a cheap laugh or a dramatic moment, I don’t want my characters to die for no reason.
If I’m to kill them it has to hurt. Hurt them, hurt me, hurt you. Hurt like any death in reality does. Because if we find killing and murder fun, what has become of us?
One of the deaths in this story hurt particularly hard. You’ll know which one when it happens. I can only apologize. But death is too big a thing to treat lightly.:
DIRECTOR’S NOTES by Nicholas Briggs
“Whenever I’ve dared to canvass opinion at Doctor Who conventions about the kind of story Big Finish fans prefer, I always get a resounding message from those I ask: ‘We don’t like comedies.’ And I agree. But what is the difference between a comedy and a drama? Not everything in a given situation will always play out to entirely dramatic, tragic or action-packed effect. Sometimes, in life, odd things happen. People are sometimes utterly useless at their jobs, to devastating effect, for example. And if their job is to conquer and destroy (rather like some infamous metallic monsters we know only too well) but they’re actually rubbish at it, what would be the consequences of that? Might there be a comedic outcome in some respects?
That’s one of the many elements in this great script by John Dorney. He’s a brilliant writer who has really hit his stride. We love what he does. And in this story, he explores some slightly ludicrous but entirely reasonable consequences of aliens not being very good at being baddies. He also explores issues involved in taking the ‘immersive’ experience of television perhaps a bit too far. True, there are some bizarrely funny things that happen along the way. But in many ways, ‘the Fourth Wall’ is one of the darkest, most disturbing plays I’ve ever directed.”
“The year is 16127. Four decades have passed since the colonists of Nerva Beacon returned to repopulate the once-devastated planet Earth – and the chosen few are finding the business of survival tough.
“Far beyond the sterile safety of sanitized Nerva City, transmat scientist Roger Buchman has brought his family to an island surrounded by what they once called Loch Lomond, hoping to re-establish the colony he was forced to abandon many years before.
“But something else resides in the Loch. A pestilent alien infestation that the Doctor, beaming in from Nerva City, remembers only too well from his time aboard the Beacon…
“The Wirrn are back. And they’re hungry.”
This, of course, is a sequel to the televised Fourth Doctor serial “The Ark in Space.” The theme here is “family,” particularly the relationship between parent and child. (The Doctor is mistaken for Flip’s father at least three times.) Flip is brave but extremely reckless; she takes a lot of unnecessary risks. She is, perhaps, the Doctor’s most reckless companion ever, except perhaps for Leela. But even Leela wasn’t reckless; she was pretty much always in control. The Doctor takes her aside at the end, and the listener gets the impression he’s going to take her home and leave her there. (Flip certainly gets that impression.) She begs to stay, however, and the Doctor relents, but only after she promises to try and be more careful in the future. “Definitely,” she says. “ will definitely try.”
WRITER’S NOTES by William Gallagher:
“Only in Doctor Who comedy plus time equals tragedy. Even if you come to ‘Wirrn Isle’ first, the Doctor hasn’t. He’s got to come to terms with the events of John Dorney’s comedy ‘The Fourth Wall’ and I had to make sure he had no time to do it. Keep him on the move, keep him in trouble.
“You don’t have to read very far into the title ‘Wirrn Isle’ to gather what the Doctor will be up against, but it’s the second word that’s the key. This is about a small family living on a frozen Loch Lomon island and coming under threat. It’s an alien threat, but what that really does is split open all the fault lines in this little group.
“’Wirrn Isle’ is about what we all do to one another and the things we choose to care about.
“Originally, Alan Barnes just asked me if I thought I could do something with Wirrn. I have no idea how we got from that one word to this whole tale, but I relished getting there with him, with John Dorney and Jonathan Morris—and with a cast that really makes you feel the cold of this lonely island.”
DIRECTOR’S NOTES by Nicholas Briggs:
“William’s script is very much a family affair. Of course, on one level it’s a rip-roaring, thrill-paced battle with a hord of Wirrn trying to take over the Earth, but I defy anyone who has kids not to be moved by the desperately poignant moments about loss and parents’ fears for the safety of their children.
“And keeping with the family theme, this story picks up on the developing relationship between the doctor and Flip. They are mistaken for father and daughter, and it’s in this story that we really feel the Doctor’s concern for her—especially since she’s at her most reckless here.
“For me, this story was the culmination of a great recording block. We seem to have given Colin Baker more than his fair share of new companions, but he’s such an accommodating chap and his Doctor’s character offers so may unique opportunities for character interaction that we can never resist giving the Sixth Doctor a new challenge. The genuine warmth between Colin and Lisa really comes through in this story.”
THE ACHERON PULSE:
“The planet Cawdor. Deep in the heart of the Drashani Empire.
“The Doctor lands thirty years after the Succession of Blood brought Empress Cheni to the throne. For most of her reign there has been peace and prosperity. The Empire flourished. But five years ago, the War came. And nothing was ever the same again. Now the Drashani are at war with the mysterious alien race known as the Wrath, led by the Warlord Tenebris. As more and more planets fall to their advance events are rushing to a head.
“What exactly does Tenebris want? What is the secret of the Wrath's weapon, the terrifying Acheron Pulse? As the Doctor races to save an Empire, he may not like the answers he finds.”
COMMENTARY: I didn’t realize at the time I bought this that it is the middle part of a trilogy of stories. Part one (#165 – “The Burning Prince”) features the Fifth Doctor and part two (#167 – “The Shadow Heart”) features the Seventh. I’ll revisit this at a later time.
UP NEXT: A series of short adventures featuring Perpegilium Brown.
RECORDED TIME AND OTHE STORIES:
I’m going to handle these four one-part stories one at a time.
RECORDED TIME by Catherine Harvey:
“The TARDIS travelers find themselves at the court of Henry VIII, where the tragic Anne Boleyn will soon be discarded by her King in favour of the lovely Perpugilliam Brown. Or so it is written…
COMMENTARY: At first, I thought this was going to be a straight-ahead, old-school historical (i.e., no sci-fi elements). You know: the Doctor and Peri arrive in Henry VIII’s court and the king takes a liking to her. But no, there’s the king’s scrivener who writes with a quill pen made from a feather of the temporal phoenix. Whatever the King orders him to write he must write, and it magically comes to pass. But the act of writing, especially when the king orders him to take lives, takes years off his own. When the scrivener dies (in a moment of defiance) and King Henry learns the Doctor is immortal, he believes he has found his new scrivener.
“I have always been interested in the power of language. I’ve always loved words. Words can save or they can kill; they can make someone laugh or reduce them to tears. And words can change the course of history. Spin and image-making may seem a modern phenomenon but they are, in fact, as old as time itself.
PARADOXIDE by Richard Dinnick:
“On the legendary lost planet of Sendos, the Doctor and Peri find themselves caught up in the hunt for the cache of galaxy-busting super-weapons stored inside its fabled Armory.”
COMMENTARY: I found this one a bit hard to follow. It went a long way around to set up circumstances for a time paradox to occur. The planet they visit is ruled by women, which gives Peri a welcome larger role to play than usual. There is some interesting wordplay throughout.
“’Paradoxide’ was an idea that had been running around in my head for some time, and when Nick Briggs and Alan Barnes asked me to submit some ideas for a one-part story, I was very pleased that it was selected as the one to develop because I had written it with the idea of making it very female-centric (which I thought unusual for Doctor Who)! Peri was the focus and therefore I wanted her to have a strong role, but it was also crucial that the Volsci didn’t come across as clichéd. The Centuria’s bandying of words with Colin’s Doctor was a favorite aspect of having such fine actresses in all roles was a dream come true. Finally, Alan’s input was (as ever) spot on and invaluable to the script’s success.
A MOST EXCELLENT MATCH by Matt Fitton:
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single girl in possession of a mind of her own must be in want of a husband. But which of Miss Peri Brown's rival suitors will be the one to win her hand: handsome Mr. Darcy, or the mysterious Doctor?”
COMMENTARY: This one is sort of a mash-up of Jane Austen, Emily Bronte and Thomas Hardy. Peri finds herself trapped in a virtual reality she believes to be real. An opportunistic entrepreneur has subverted military technology designed to take over the minds of enemy troops into a form of entertainment. But the real plot is to subvert the mind of the Doctor. The more familiar the reader is with the works of English Romantic authors the more he will appreciate this play. Nicola Bryant struggles to deliver the flowery speech convincingly.
“It is a tradition universally observed that any homage to Austen must be in want of a particular opening sentence. And believe me, I held off using it for as long as I could. But then, twenty-five minutes is not a long time. To build a setting, create characters, establish associations. So how better to hit the ground running than to take—ahem, borrow—from the best? As a student of relationships, human nature, good and bad, Jane Austen is most excellent. But, as you’ll discover, that’s just the beginning. I do hope you enjoy the journey.”
QUESTION MARKS by Philip Lawrence:
“Five survivors of an unknown catastrophe wake to find themselves caught in an inescapable trap. But can the oddly-dressed man in the question-marked collar work out what's really going on before time runs out – for good?”
COMMENTARY: The Doctor, Peri and three others awaken, all with amnesia. They are on a spaceship and are in deadly danger. They have to rely upon themselves and circumstantial evidence to determine who’s who and how to escape. (“Question Marks” is what the captain of the ship calls the Doctor, because of his collar.) It’s a trope we have seen before (on Star Trek: the Next Generation, The X-Files, perhaps elsewhere as well), but this one is particularly well done, especially the end, which I won’t spoil here. Of the four one-part adventures on this disc, this is my favorite.
“I’m a very lucky boy. I started writing Doctor Who stories when Colin and Nicola were running up and down corridors on telly, so what better way to write for my first contribution to Doctor Who proper. It’s been a terrific journey getting here; it still makes me beam from ear to ear. I want to thank all the readers of the AFT for their faith and support. Alan Barnes, you have my eternal gratitude for seeing the potential in my pitch and for the title. Raquel, thanks for the accent. Oh, and Nicola: I’m very sorry about the ending.”
BREAKING BUBBLES & OTHER STORIES
Four more short stories featuring the Sixth Doctor and Peri stories, all on the theme of perception. As with “Recorded Time,” I will be handling the stories one at a time. Big Finish uses these “short story” collections to try out new writers, and they rotate from Doctor to Doctor.
BREAKING BUBBLES by LM Myles:
“The Doctor and Peri find themselves in the palatial gardens of the deposed Empress Safira Valtris where nothing is ever quite what it seems.”
COMMENTARY: This one is fairly straightforward (for a Doctor Who story). The TARDIS materializes in what the Doctor and Peri first think is a garden on a planet, but ends up being a holodeck on a spaceship. The “deposed empress” mentioned in the introduction is cousin to the current emperor. She is being transferred from one prison to another, and held in a holodeck to make her voyage comfortable. The Doctor and Peri are separated (of course), Peri with the empress and the Doctor with the crew. It’s unclear which side is “right” and which is “wrong”; it could be interpreted either way. The empress has been able to reprogram her holographic prison in such a way that her captors are caught in it, but they think they are still in command of the ship.
“Everything is more awesome in space. Which is why I might, on occasion, get a smidgeon techy at those who mock the notion of ‘space medicine’. It’s medicine, but more awesome! Sadly, this story doesn’t have any space medicine in it. There is, however, a space empress, spce ships, space politics… various space-y type things. ‘Wouldn’t Napoleon’s escape from Elba have been so much cooler if it had been in space?’ I thought, shortly before writing this story. Of course it would. ‘Breaking Bubbles’ is nothing like that escape, but I am indebted both to the machinations of Bonaparte and the intrinsically neat nature of space for inspiration.”
OF CHAOS TIME THE by Mark Ravenhill:
“Cast adrift in his own chronology, the Doctor must avert the consequences of a catastrophic experiment in using time as a weapon of war.”
COMMENTARY: The story begins with the Doctor and an unidentified woman “running down a corridor” pursued by robot assassins. He doesn’t know who the woman is, where he is or how he got there. Turns out they are in a military hospital facility, when “the Patient” is experiencing advanced chronological aging and is caught in a time loop. He ages from infancy to about 90, dies, and the process repeats.
The man had been experimenting with a chronon bomb which accounts for his condition. The Doctor’s exposure to the chronon radiation has caused him to become unstuck in time. He experiences the events of the story in random order and must deduce the situation and how to resolve it.
“Nowadays, I spend my life working on scripts. But the first script I ever saw was in 1973 when I used my pocket money to buy The Making of Doctor Who. I was fascinated to learn that I saw on television—the Doctor and Jo being chased by a Sea Devil—began with words, a script, a writer. For the first time I saw character names, dialogue, descriptions of actions and the workings of a director to make a camera script. Amazing. And it was just as thrilling writing this story. To think that your words are actually going to be spoken by the Doctor himself is a dream come true.”
AN EYE FOR MURDER by Una McCormack:
“The year is 1939, and a case of poison pen letters at St. Ursula’s College threatens to change the course of the Second World War. Fortunately thriller writer Miss Sarah Perry is on hand to investigate...”
COMMENTARY: The TARDIS arrives at a women’s college where Peri Brown is mistaken for alumnus Sarah Perry. She enjoys the Doctor being cast as her assistant. Every time the Doctor introduces himself in his usual manner, someone else points out, “We’re all doctors here.” One of the faculty is Jewish, and the recipient of threatening racist letters. She also has in her possession a petrified, alien eye which has the ability to make small things invisible. If she can increase its scope, she wants to use it to help the war effort by making convoys or fleets invisible. But there’s another problem in addition to the scope: whatever it’s used on becomes unstable and soon crumbles into dust. Then the Nazi sympathetic faculty member who has been writing the threatening letters gets her hands on the eye.
“Reversing the familiar initial encounter between Doctor and companion and guest characters seemed a fun way of filling the brief of different perceptions of the same reality. But where would Peri come to the fore while the Doctor got pushed aside? In an all-female environment, of course.
“This took me to Dorothy L Sayer’s detective novel, Gaudy Night, set in an Oxford women’s college. I switched to Cambridge (don’t want to be too obvious), and pushed the date slightly on to 1939 and Europe on the brink of war (the differing ideologies of communism and fascism provide the conflict propelling the story). Peri became my Harriet Vane, and the Doctor became—well, not Lord Peter Wimsey, not exactly, but a good companion, I think.
“The narrative hinges on Chamberlain’s declaration of war, when the world changed in a blink. And there’s an alien eye. You can’t go wrong with an alien eye.”
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOCTOR IN THE NIGHT-TIME by Nev Fountain:
“Michael is a young boy who likes to solve mysteries, such as the mystery of the extra gnome, the mystery of the absent father, and the mystery of the strange man in yellow trousers at the bottom of the garden.”
COMMENTARY: Michael is a 14 year old boy with autism. His father is missing and Michael comes to believe that he has been turned into a garden gnome. Actually, the gnomes are alien killing machines which have been sent to Earth because the high ozone content in the atmosphere renders them immobile. The entire first half of this story is a solo performance by the actor playing the boy. This is my favorite episode of the set.
“‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’ is a novel by Mark Haddon about a boy who is an outsider because he suffers from high functioning autism. This condition is characterized by an obsessive behavior and a fixation on certain narrow topics.
“I saw the play, and was wowed by Johnny Gibbon’s performance as the main character. And I didn’t get to the interval before I started thinking about how interesting a boy like that would be if he met Doctor Who.
“Cue flashing sign saying ‘irony’.
“I’m delighted that I got a chance to write this story, because it’s very personal to me. But the bit I’m most delighted with is Big Finish getting Johnny Gibbon to play Michael. This journey started and ended with me watching him do a heart-breaking performance of a boy who never has a chance of completely growing up. A bit like the chap in the shed with the yellow trousers.
“There goes that ‘irony’ sign again.”