Serial 7W/H – Twenty-Four
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Guide O' Wrong Numbers
D O C T O R W H O
Serial 7W/H – Twenty-Four
Twenty-Four 1/4 - False "False" Gods (AKA True Gods)
The Doctor, resplendent in his leather jacket, Rupert the Bear trousers, mirrored shades and long multicoloured scarf is getting down in his TARDIS console room with its funky black console and massive Andromedan sound system, his enjoyment only slightly curtailed by his hysterical girlfriend Perry.
Suddenly, the time machine is buffeted and literally wrenched out of time and space. Despite the assurances of those mechanics on Pulsar Four, the TARDIS’s 3000 light year service proves no help and crash lands. Luckily the scanner screen shows the words "THEBES 1902" in large white letters and the Doctor and Perry are eventually able to decide where and when they are.
As they move to the doors, a strange voice whispers "remember ZZ" which is either a residual time echo conveyed through the
TARDIS’s telepathic circuits or the Doctor’s formidable CD player has finally started to screw up. Nevertheless, it’s spooky enough for Perry to decide she requires her thermal bazookoid laser blaster just in case of hideous alien attacks. Which happen more than you’d think.
The TARDIS (as ever, covered in bumper stickers and flashing green and red lights) has landed in an excavation site around a hitherto unknown tomb which the Doctor suspected could belong to an overseer of the Fields of Amun... because he’s a clever bastard who knows random trivial crap like that. "This can only mean we’re in one place," the Doctor announces dramatically.
"The Valley of the Kings in Egypt?" offers Perry.
"I WANTED TO SAY THAT!" complains the Doctor and decides to go and pester the English archaeologists freeing the huge boulder that has been covering the entrance for over three millennia. It could be that this opening of the tomb somehow drew the TARDIS here, but it could also be a complete coincidence and they’d get a lot less predestination paradox headaches that way.
The archaeologists soon find a miraculously preserved artifact: a box full of 24 GI Joe action figures, presumably for the Egyptian Kings to play with in the afterlife. The leader of the expedition notices the Doctor and Perry and demands to know who the hell they are.
"You can only be one man, the Chief Inspector of Antiquities!" the Doctor proclaims impressively.
"You don’t mean..." says Peri, giving him a feed line.
"...HOWARD CARTER! Thanks, Perry, I feel much better now."
Unfortunately, it’s 20 years before Carter does anything interesting like discovering the tomb of Tutankhamun and unleashing the curse of the mummy on the unsuspecting Western World. Rather put out, the Doctor idly considers travelling through time and encountering the people who have been mummified at their births, marriages and funerals all in one day, but Perry considers this rather morbid.
Perry hears some more faint voices, whispers and screams but the Doctor pooh-poohs the idea until they stumble over the body of young student Robert Charles, decayed as if he’s been dead for years. The Doctor considers that there could be some unstable time field in evidence or maybe the Curse of the Pharaohs is in work. Either way, it’s time to get the hell out of there while they still can!
They decide to leave the tomb... only to find the Valley of the Kings have vanished and there is nothing but sand and an angry red sun with no ozone layer, forcing the time travelers back into tomb before they burst into flames.
"This can only mean one thing!" the Doctor concludes.
"We’ve traveled so far in time to a point there’s no protection from the sun’s radiation?" asks Peri.
"...I WANTED TO SAY THAT!" the Doctor shouts, before explaining to Carter that he’s a Time Lord and he came here on the trail of a disturbance in space-time.
Suddenly a huge crystalline robot with a South African accent appears and marches across the sand towards the tomb, and Perry allows the Doctor to identify it as a Proton! The Proton calls them heritage raiders and prepares to atomize them when it is attacked by a prehistoric mammalian predator halfway between a hyena and a bear, extinct for 20 million years.
"A CREODONT?!" exclaim the Doctor and Perry in unison.
As the two time-displaced behemoths battle it out and the tomb starts to crumble to dust around them, Carter’s assistant Jane Templeton uses a nifty beeper to summon up a police box shaped TARDIS which she insists to the confusion of everyone is actually her own. They scramble inside the bigger-on-the-inside time machine.
Safely inside, the Doctor and Perry realize the silver-walled chamber full of glass shelves and cabinets, not to mention the floating gyroscope time rotor, that this is none other than the TARDIS of the Doctor’s former companion, upgraded Time Lady known as...
Yes, indeed, the Rani, who has been messing about the Ancient Egypt for the sheer bloody hell of it but her time machine has started to play up and screw about with the local continuum. She’s tempted to send it into the heart of a star to teach it a lesson, but the Rani isn’t dumb enough to think it would have any long-term benefits.
The Rani returns to 1902 and kicks the Doctor, Perry and Carter out into the Valley of the Kings while she rides off into the sunset looking for a decent mechanic and to get revenge on the mysterious figure who sold her a faulty temporal field stabilizer: Colin Matthews!
Inexplicably announcing that this is "another case solved!" the Doctor and Perry return to the TARDIS, leaving Carter utterly bewildered and wondering what in the name of God’s Arse that was all about.
The Doctor sets the time machine in motion and while he and Perry groove to the theme tune of "The Lenny Henry Show", the police box fades in and out of existence in time to the music before finally leaving the desert altogether.
Twenty-Four 2/4 - Unfeasibility of Yusapio
It’s another adventure for the Doctor and her comedy sidekick, Cockney chimney sweep from 1911, Carl Evans. The TARDIS is just passing through the 34th century when it picks up a mysterious request for help in triple-ciphered code on multiple frequencies.
"If they want help so badly, why are they making it so bloody difficult to understand what they want?" asks Carl, not unreasonably, as he watches Singing in the Rain yet again on the TARDIS tuner.
"Maybe they’re paranoid schizophrenics? Well, there’s only one way to find out," the Doctor notes and sets the TARDIS to land on the planet known as the Sphere of Influence, a world completely devoted to the advancement of knowledge. "They rarely succeed at all, but you’ve got to give those boys effort for trying!"
The Doctor and Carl emerge into torrential rain on the muddy shore of the island of Mendolovinia. Quickly dragging Carl after her before he can reenter the TARDIS, the Doctor battles through the elements towards a large house and kicks the door down. This does not impress the elderly housekeeper, Mrs. Bitch, who tries to nail the door closed before they can enter.
The Doctor shouts through the letter box, "I’m here to talk to Dr Yusapio and we’re here about that code! Now let us in or my friend Carl "Huge Vicious McSadistic O’Nasty" Evans and his vicious Rottweiler K9 will demolish this house!"
Reluctantly, Mrs. Bitch allows them to enter, explaining that Dr. Yusapio moved to a remote, storm-lashed island on the dark side of the planet impossible to reach by plane or ship and then chose her as a homicidally-unfriendly housekeeper because he didn’t want visitors and wished to work in peace.
"And THEN he starts asking people to drop by?" marvels Carl. "He’s a bleeding moron, he is! No wonder no one else on this Sphere of Influence wants to talk to him!"
Mrs. Bitch points out that Yusapio is one of the foremost authorities on bio-engineering and one of the founding fathers of the Sphere of Influence. The fact no one’s spoken to him for years until he started sending out mysterious requests for help is entirely irrelevant.
While the Doctor and Carl critique the décor of oil lamps, stone flooring and hideous gargoyles as retro for the year 3380, especially the ominous mechanical vibration from upstairs, Mrs. Bitch leads them to a derange old man in a tutu and a party hat calling him Dr Yusapio who immediately invites Carl to dance and demands the Doctor put the kettle on, in the mistaken assumption she is Mrs. Bitch.
The Doctor beats some sense into Yusapio with her umbrella and the clearly-completely-mad scientist orders the Doctor and Carl to
accompany him to his laboratory, which contains an MRI machine with a surprising amount of tinsel and disco rope lighting attached. "This is my cerebral enhancement-o-tron!" Yusapio squawks in an annoying, high-pitched whine. "It can enhance the intellect and suppress primitive desires! With this device I can, dare I say it, rule the galaxy! It can restructure the brains of countless billions of people across the universe and expend their mental capacities in an instant!"
"You want to take over the universe by making everyone smarter than you are?" asks Carl, rightly suspecting that Yusapio is a complete moron.
"Ahahhahahaah!" replies Dr Yusapio calmly. "I tried the process myself. It like totally expanded my mind! The doors of perception were flung wide open! I HAVE TRANSCENDED GENIUS! I AM THE CLEVEREST MAN WHO HAS EVER LIVED! There was a slight downer when after an hour I forgot how to tie my own shoelaces or control my own bowels, but another zap made me from simpleton to superman! But that didn’t last long. I’ve had zap myself a few times now, actually. In fact, the brain drain might end up being permanent. That’s not a good thing, is it?"
Carl isn’t sympathetic – in fact, he finds it incredibly amusing in a dark kind of way, and wonder what the hell this has to do with the coded messages for help.
"Well, during one of my moments of undoubted genius, I was convinced I’d somehow caught an intelligence-eating virus determined to regress me into a gibbering baboon with an IQ of only 24. So, when I wasn’t a complete idiot I translated the virus into a code, a mathematical sequence and then turned it into a puzzle. Anyone who can solve the puzzle can cure the virus!"
But the Doctor, finding it harder and harder to think, realizes that Yusapio has either been a cunning and sadistic bastard or else a complete idiot: everyone who reads the code become infected with the stupidity virus, compelling them to come here in the hope of a cure. Yusapio has thus endangered all intelligent life in the universe in the hope someone might be able to save him from being an even bigger retard than he already is.
"You son of a bitch!" Carl marvels.
The increasingly-confused Doctor starts to stumble over her words and struggles to make any kind of sense. Carl suggests they give her a zap with the cerebral enhancement-o-tron and zap her brain cells long enough to solve the code.
Mrs. Bitch arrives with the tea (but with no milk, sugar or digestive biscuits because they don’t cater for visitors) and idly asks the Doctor has solved the code. "If you haven’t, you might care to look at what’s in the attic while you still can focus your eyes?"
Carl decides to check out the attic while Mrs. Bitch forces the Doctor at gunpoint to don the colander-like helmet as she is the progenitor – neither Yusapio or his little drinking buddy Caldicott and McQueen solved the code, and they are now in the attic...
Carl opens the door to the attic and encounters two cavemen-like ape-creatures chained up, their IQs reduced to just 24. But the chimney sweep’s accent (not to mention perky delivery) annoys the monster so much they break free of their chains
The Doctor’s IQ returns to normal and she realizes that the code is double-double trap – if the code is solved, the virus will become airborne and infect everyone in the universe. Her newly-electrified brain immediately works out that Mrs. Bitch is an extremist of the Order of Simpletons determined to make the human race idiots who reject technology, who sabotaged Yusapio’s cerebral enhancement-o-tron to prevent mankind using it to achieve enlightenment.
Mrs. Bitch laughs cruelly that she has a completely different agenda, and the Doctor’s intelligence isn’t as good as they first thought. She is in fact an agent for the mysterious organization "CM Enterprises" here to assassinate the Time Lord.
But before Mrs. Bitch can incriminate herself further, Carl and the ape men arrive (man, that would be a good name for a band...) and pummel Mrs. Bitch to death. The Doctor reveals she’s just had an idea as fashionable as her coat and thinks herself down to an IQ level of 23, and the virus jumps to the nearest greater intelligence in the hope of being solved – but those are the ape men, who are stuck at IQ 24 and can never solve the code. The virus is trapped and self-destructs, causing the insane ape men to fall on some inconveniently-placed machinery and start a fire that burns the house down.
Luckily, the Doctor, Carl and Yusapio escape the inferno intact. However, this is far from a happy ending as the tide has come in and the TARDIS is submerged, forcing the duo to have to swim for it. Yusapio stands around rather ineffectually, musing on how he is now marooned on a barren island with no food, water, technology or chance of rescue.
"Oh well," he grins stupidly, "seemed like a good idea at the time!"
Twenty-Four 3/4 - Causalities of War
The TARDIS brings the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Hex outside a Streatham pub called The Four Smoking Barrels on 9 May 1945, the day the Second World War ended.
In the pub, a now out-of-work black marketeer called Joey Jeremiah is bushwacked by a police constable for stealing the contents of a van off Clapham Common. But Joey has a funky bling medallion allowing him to telepathically control people, and thus mischief is bound to occur.
Typically, Joey’s medallion sets off alarm bells ringing on the Doctor’s ACME psionic power source detectors – which is rather awkward as he, Ace and Hex were trying to get some free drinks off the barmaid at the time. Not being a complete idiot, Joey realizes that HE is the source of the buzzing detector and makes a break for it.
The TARDIS crew make chase for no other reason that it might be interesting. Catching him in a café, Joey admits that he stole his funky medallion from that van... the one marked "TOUCHWOOD" in flashing blue lights. The Doctor is horrified and warns Joey not to get mixed up with them until better contraceptives are invented.
Joey is able to defeat the Doctor, Ace and Hex in a kung-fu battle of telekinetically-controlled household objects thanks to that medallion we were talking about and makes a break for it. However, Touchwood have sent an extraction team of transexual MIBs/MILFs who open fire with laser beams and Joey is utterly destroyed, with only his sun glasses and hat surviving the explosion. It seems that Joey was an extra-dimensional agent for a mysterious being known as "Colin" who the Touchwood Institute have declared public enemy number two and three.
The Doctor, Ace and Hex watch the extraction team rush off again and the Time Lord takes them back to the pub and chats about how he once visited Touchwood and discover that the leader, Numbskull, surgically fused himself to the Hub computer to achieve mortality, and then threw live lobsters at him.
The three friends laugh and Hex passes about tabs of hallucinogens.
Twenty-Four 4/4 – Jerk Lord Colin Matthews
Once again, Sam Tollinger’s desire to go straight and shake off his criminal career of the early UNIT era has gone totally pear-shaped and the police are after him in connection to a biological computer virus unleashed from the New World University.
Since Sam has the unique resources of a fat Time Lord at his disposal, he gets the Doctor to take him and his daughter Kate fifty years into the future to a point where the heat is off and the Old Bill aren’t looking for him any more. As the Doctor is sick and tired of living in contemporary London full of characters out of The Bill, he agrees and the three of them leave in the TARDIS for the heady hear of 2045.
"Ah, the height of the second Cold War," the Doctor enthuses to his companions. "The whole planet on the verge of nuclear meltdown, brain implants forced on children so they can interface with arms technology, space travel rendered impossible by insane Star Wars defense networks... why don’t I visit this place more often? It’s much more exciting than hanging around waiting for Princess Diana to perish and the y2k crisis to start!"
Promising Sam to arrive in the one place no one will be looking for, the Doctor relocates the time machine to an underground bunker in Antarctica, the Ralph Fiennes Institute. About twelve seconds after the trio leave the TARDIS they are immediately arrested for trespassing in a maximum security military installation just as a delegate in the middle of some top secret peace talks has been mysteriously murdered, an incident that risks thermonuclear war that will wipe out mankind!
"Ah, now THIS is what I call the perfect start to an evening!" the Doctor grins as they are beaten up and strip-searched by trigger-happy security guards.
The Doctor, Kate and Sam are thrown into a cell and interrogated by the drunk and omnisexual Captain Jack Sparrow, who explains that America is so desperate they have chosen Touchwood to provide security. Captain Jack slurs that although the Doctor doesn’t know HIM, he knows the Doctor – well, kind of, as technically none of this is canonical anyway and trying to work out what actually counts as genuine Doctor Who is so difficult it makes your elbows bleed. Anyway, Captain Jack is fully prepared to allow the Doctor carte blanche to solve the murder.
"Must you?" wails the Doctor. "It’s not half as much fun if you just LET me go round sorting things out. I know you want to stop World War Four, but come on..."
Captain Jack quietly throw up in a waste paper bin, downs a bottle of rum and explains that the murder victim Gratton von Alexander, American consul to the Far East hanging upside down in his bedroom with his skeleton removed. The whole situation appears to be impossible and as Jonathon Creek’s been dead for twenty years, things are looking bleak!
The Doctor decides that since the murder occurred in one of the most secure facilities on Earth, a cross between Buckingham Palace and the Death Star, 240 miles from civilization, with everything inside and out monitored by state-of-the-art systems and the only thing that could get away with murder here is a ghost. Thus, an exorcism is required!
They head for the control centre and while Sam holds the candles and has to chant in Latin, the Doctor has Kate take all the surviving delegates into the TARDIS, calling it a post modern panic room cunningly discussed as a wooden box. With less than half an hour to sort out the problem before war breaks out. Via walkie-talkie, the Doctor tells Kate to activate a red switch on the control console – but the Doctor has absent-mindedly welded closed for some reason.
Suddenly a scrawny man with wild hair wearing a Vesachi suit over a Hawaiian shirt, arrives in an enormous explosion of light. Horrified, Kate demands to know who this jerk is.
"Colin Matthews!" beams the assassin. "Chairmain, founding father and most valued client of CM Enterprises, which has branches in 24 billion dimensions. And I’m not a jerk, though you’re not the first person to think I am. Is it the hair? It’s the hair, isn’t it? I should change the hair!"
Kate icily tells him to get the hell out of the TARDIS, but Colin merely becomes nostalgic for the long distant time when he was last told what to do. He then opens fire with a sub machine gun and slaughters all the delegates. "Go on, plucky Miss T!" he goads. "Tell me not to kill anyone else!"
Hearing the Doctor calling Kate over the walkie-talkie, Colin relocates himself to the command centre, just as the Doctor sends Sam with the sonic screwdriver to head to the TARDIS and fix the red button on the console. Sam arrives at the time machine before a rather nasty thought strikes both him and Kate – they haven’t the faintest idea how the operate the bloody thing!
Colin Matthews explains he was a small-time hustler in the 1980s when it turns out he’d managed to get some blackmail on one of the Elder Powers of All Creation. In return he was made a godlike indestructible being and was able to abandon the shitty newspaper he was working for and become a pan-dimensional money maker! However, the 1990s have been rough, cash-flow-situation-wise, and to make up the difference, Colin has decided the quickest, easiest, and fastest way to make a fortune was to kill the Doctor.
"There’s a reward on your head like you wouldn’t believe," he explains. "I has a list of the most powerful, resourceful and dangerous beings in the entire multiverse and CM Enterprises is happy to track them down, find them, beat them, tick them off the list and sell them on. I know it would mean giving the greatest of all possible boons to the Dustbin Empire or the Cyber Bloc, but really, it’s just money. I’ve even had a couple of offers for Kate and Sam Tollinger, although disappointingly the reward for Sam was very small. What’s the point of a time traveling gangland boss without a decent bounty, eh?"
Colin Matthews raises his weapon to shoot the Doctor but Captain Jack dives in the way and is blasted down dead... only for him to magically revive moments later. Everyone boggles at what the hell is going on, distracting Colin Matthews long enough for Sam and Kate to finally get the sonic screwdriver working and press the red button.
Colin Matthews is immediately sucked into a spare dimension, and all his actions cancelled out as he is relocated into an empty void where he is unable to affect anything or anyone. It turns out the Doctor’s used this particular trick on more than one occasion and Colin Matthews immediately starts hustling his cell-mate Magog of the Malevilus about a possible way to escape.
Meanwhile, since none of the adventure ever happened, this seems a good enough reason to stop talking about it.
Book(s)/Other Related –
Doctor Who & The Sex Change Crisis of Biological Meta-Stuff!
"Did Someone Say "Anniversary"? Sounds Like A Good Idea For A Book! How does '45 Marvelous Years' grab you?" Yet Another Anniversary Celebration With Obligatory Programme Guide by Peter Haining
"Stealing Eden The Long Way Home When Everyone Wants You To Lean The Politics of Deception", A Compilation of Dr Who/Press Gang crossovers by Steve Moffat When He Really Should Have Been Working On Jekyll
Fluffs - Sylvester McCoy seemed hung, drawn and quartered for most of this story. Barbara Benedetti seemed hungover for her bit of the story while Richard Griffiths seemed verbose for his portion, while Lenny Henry was clearly following his Guide to Cruciality during his bit.
"Oh, I’m sure I can help! I’m a genius three times over aren’t I, Carl? Possibly even twice!"
"I think I came in too early there, Ace."
"I’ll give it to you again, darlin."
"What a touching display of... whatever."
Why doesn’t Yusapio die from having the brainrot virus? Is he just really clever and an IQ of 24 doesn’t really bother him?
Fashion Victims -
Colin Matthew’s terrifying four-dimensional mullet.
Yusapio intends to "reverse the polarity of his own neuron flow!"
Links and References -
The various Touchwood stories of Big Finish get a vague mention, but to tell you the truth, I wasn’t really paying attention.
Untelevised Misadventures -
Give me strength.
Groovy DVD Extras -
Trailers for the previous 114 Doctor Who stories, not to mention all the spin offs and things no one will ever, ever listen to like the Companion Chronicles, The Adventures of Luther Arkright, The Phantom of the Opera and all the complimentary freebie discs DWM gives out. All of trailers! Nothing but trailers! LET JOY BE UNCONFINE-ED!!!
Dialogue Disasters -
Sam: Why do we always blunder into a murder investigation rather than a party or something like that?
Kate: It’s the TARDIS – it’s programmed to hone in on trouble.
Doctor: That is a foul slur, Kate.
Kate: Doctor, you got me to help you fix the Murder Investigation Sensors last week, remember?
Doctor: Heh. Oh yes, so I did.
Doctor: I am not A Doctor. I am THE Doctor.
Carter: THE Doctor... what?
Doctor: That’s near enough.
Doctor: I’m not going to let you harm anyone else.
Colin Matthews: You know the most annoying thing about you, Doctor? You’re a man who is used to shouting at people with guns and never getting shot. It’s made you overconfident. And far too smug.
Doctor: Exercise is the key to long life, I always say.
Carl: No you don’t.
Doctor: But you want to a live a longer life, don’t you?
Carl: You got me there.
Dialogue Triumphs -
Rani: You don’t seem to understand just how much the time line hates you being here... if it was a cat, it would be hissing at you right now, clawing your leg through your trousers before pissing in your lap!
Captain Jack: Sit yourself down.
Sam: That really is a tricky maneuver.
Doctor: Quiet, you!
Mrs. Bitch: The age of purity is coming!
Yusapio: You forgot about the age of consent first!
Mrs. Bitch: Pah! Ignorance is bliss!
Yusapio: Ooh, she’s got me there...
Colin Matthews: I’m bulletproof! How many times do I have to say it?
Perry: Doctor! What happened? What happened, Doctor? What’s going on? Doctor? Doctor? Where are you, Doctor? Oh, what’s happened? What happened, Doctor? Doctor? Oh, Doctor, what’s happening, Doctor?
Doctor: SHUT UP!
Hex: VE day? They had a day celebrating venereal diseases?
Colin Matthews: We’re all completists at CM Enterprises, you know. We gotta catch em all.
Doctor: That’s a catchphrase stolen from Pokémon!
Colin Matthews: Is it? Then I must meet with their people and do lunch!
UnQuotable Quote -
Doctor: Never confuse complexity with chaos. Or drink orange juice directly after brushing your teeth.
Viewer Quotes -
"Great. The Seventh Doctor, Ace and Hex visit another historical war and fight Touchwood. What variety!" - Gordon Brown (2009)
"Lenny Henry’s Doctor got the release off to a bad start in my honest opinion. It’s the exact kind of story that Henry-bashers always dismiss his entire five-minute era as: overly rushed and frenetic, with a Doctor who’s a bit buffoonish for most of the running time, followed by an unconvincing 1980s villain who really shouldn’t be there!"
- Psycho Fan who watches the sketch every day on youtube (2009)
"Mmm. Do you think the Idiocy virus has something to do with the Viyrans? Oh, could it be another part of the epic Virus Strand story arc? Oooh, ecstasy! OOOH, NIRVANA!" - Nicholas Briggs (2008)
"I hate bad writing almost as much as bad acting so when I heard Mrs. Bitch’s "Scottish" accent in the second story, I decided not to bother listening to any more! In fact, I won’t listen to ANYTHING any more. I’ve perforated my own ear drums and will never hear again! HAH! Who’s laughing now, Big Finish? WHO IS LAUGHING NOW?" - Gabriel Chase (2008)
"Excellent! I feel like the Briggs regime is really hitting its
stride; all they need to do is keep him completely out of the way and the magic just happens!
"Carl the Americockney Chimney Sweep in Top Hat and Coat Tails?! ARE YOU DICKING WITH ME? ARE YOU? Oh, for the convincing accents of Evaders from Bars, Inuit in Hull and The Assassin Who Died Twice..."
- Esmerelda Pudding (2008)
"I really hate Colin Matthews! Argh, nothing bugs me more than when the Doctor seems outmatched. I guess he’s coming back, I mean, he HAS to. I liked the idea of the character, though. I’m really curious to see where this goes. Anything that can engage me enough to seriously not like one of the characters with such persistent annoyance has something going for it! And he better turn up in Doctor Who, not Sapphire & Steel you jerks!" - Kelda Holmes (2009)
"I loved the Benedetti Doctor and her episode was the best of the
stories! Moffat should adapt that story for an episode of the show and it would be great, because the threat is so far reaching and unusual. Plus, I just couldn’t lust after Matt Smith the way I do Babs."
- Nigel Verkoff esquire (2009)
"This was just bonkers. And I love bonkers." - Kate Moss (2008)
Psychotic Nostalgia -
"I can’t talk about this story! Don’t you understand? It cannot be spoken of or IT WILL EAT MY BRAAY-EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN!! It has a lovely cover, though, doesn’t it? Nice and red. Like roadkill. Except it doesn’t attract flies. Still, flick some tomato sauce on it and leave it out in the sun. Come, my pretties. FEAST!"
Sylvester McCoy Speaks!
"Hello, I am, er, who? Oh, yes, that’s right, I AM Who! I am he! I am he who plays Who, I am. Who? Yes, you’ve guessed it. Me. It’s Doctor Who’s 45th birthday. I was I was only 45. I feel that plus a hundred, if I’m honest. It’s a lovely celebration, though, with stories on Earth past, present, future, alien planets, interconnecting bits of fun in each story, great guest casts. It’s utterly exhausting, so it’s good there are three other suckers to lighten the load. It flips between places, people, themes, oh, it makes me giddy just thinking about it. Or is that all the booze we’ve been plying ourselves with?"
Barbara Benedetti Speaks!
"The things about the Doctor is that she’s three times the genius of everyone else, which is interesting as I’ve never actually met another genius. Three times nothing is still nothing, right? I’ve never really been a fan of Doctor Who. I don’t hate it, but I don’t like it, either. Still, it’s been 23 years since I played her, so it’s not as if I let it dominate my career, is it? And this was a nice little shindig. There was a bit of trouble when that bald guy at the clock tower started shooting at people, but I had great fun. Might bring a bulletproof vest next time, though. Should there be one."
Lenny Henry Speaks!
"45 years, eh? Amazing. To think a five minute skit about technobbable and corridors could leave to this, huh? Didn’t see that one coming. I saw Big Finish would be desperate for a thespian of my brilliance and talent, of course. But they wanted me for one gag I did 20 years ago. My wonderful comic timing wasn’t enough for them. But I don’t mind. I’m much better than that. Sniff. Hurtful bastards. I always see, if you’ve seen one Doctor, you’ve seen them all. Unless you’ve seen John Culshaw, you might seen them all, but you’ve only seen one. And not a particularly good one, either."
Richard Griffiths Speaks!
"Twenty-Four was a lot less ghastly than the usual Big Finish rigmarole dripping with hypocrisy and easy virtue, sacrificing any intellectual freedom for the sake of satisfying the lowest common denominator. Which was terribly annoying, as normally I had lots of stuff to complain about. This production undermined my whole hatred for Doctor Who. How infinitely depressing. Why do I even bother? Why, I ask you?!? No, don’t bother to answer, I’ve got used to the frustrations of ignorance over these long, lonely years. I much prefer doing Douglas Adams."
A certain American-based fan audio group with superiority complexes had absolutely no input in any way, shape or form with this story. Or, indeed, with anything.
Rumors & Facts -
2008 was the forty-fifth anniversary year of Doctor Who existing outside the minds of whichever twisted sons of bitches came up with the idea in the first place. Thus, Big Finish decided that the November release for 2008 would be a special serial celebrating the franchise, wittily named "45". Cause, you know, 45 years.
But the production team soon fell into in-fighting. Many of the sound recording staff felt that the anniversary was stupid as while Doctor Who was 45 years old, it was not on TV for 45 years. Thus, "45" should be renamed "30.5". The script editing staff disagreed on the grounds it was stupid, and thus it should only count PROPER Doctor Who. A massive list was drawn up, with only the 100% agreed PROPER Doctor Who stories on it – but apart from Season 14 and The Phantom of Androzani, there were no other stories. Thus, Jason Haigh-Ellery had the brilliant idea of simply listing all the stories everyone AGREED were crap and then removing them from the total.
They finally came to the conclusion that, deprived of total crap, Doctor Who had only existed for twenty-four years and so this was the title chosen for the forty-fifth anniversary release. Not a lot of people know that and, indeed, automatically assume that no one at Big Finish can count – since, after all, they were unable to get the right number for their one hundredth mainstream release.
Like 300, it was decided that the celebration would take the form of four one-episode adventures with a linking theme. This had, after all, worked so brilliantly with 300, Interesting Times and the very first release, The Tarrants of Time. There was only one flaw in this damn-fine-in-all-other-respects plan.
Sylvester McCoy. More importantly, his total refusal to, in ANY way appear in Big Finish run by Nicholas Briggs after he’d taken the piss out of the Scotsman’s accent back in the space year 2000. Since Briggs had taken over the company, it had used countless tricks and threats and enticements to get McCoy back. Sometimes they locked Briggs in the cupboard and pretended he wasn’t there, sometimes they simply edited McCoy into stories using a rapidly-dwindling library of outtakes and soundtracks. But more and more often they were being forced to record unmade stories from 1992 featuring the Eighth Doctor and Kate Tollinger, with the excuse that these WERE Seventh Doctor, Ace and Hex stories where they happened to be spending all their time watching alternative quantum realities where Rome never fell, the Nazis won the second world war and Jonathon Powell hadn’t axed Doctor Who in 1989.
Facing the grim task of having to try and con back Sylvester McCoy for FOUR separate stories, and the fact the fan base would be unimpressed with a single McCoy story and three Richard Griffiths stories, Alan Barnes plugged himself into his own private Cerebral-Enhancement-o-tron (or a colander connected by fuse wire to a cardboard box with buttons marked STOP and START on it) to find out a solution.
And would you Adam and Eve it, he did!
As they were promising a Seventh Doctor adventure, Big Finish was obliged to do so – but they weren’t necessarily obliged to provide Sylvester McCoy. Since they could trick him into recording one episode, and get an Alt-Eighth Doctor and Kate story for another episode, they could get other, alternative Seventh Doctors for the remaining two episodes and the lawyers wouldn’t be able to touch them.
The first choice was the spirited Jane-Asher-esque Barbara Benedetti who had portrayed the Doctor back in the 1980s. Horrified beyond measure at the apparent destruction of Doctor Who by the evil Michael Grade, the vast American fan base decided to make their own Doctor Who series. From 1985 onwards Seattle public access stations were simply jammed chock-a-block with these one-episode stories featuring the female Seventh Doctor and her chimney sweep companion played by Randy Rogers in authentic Anglo-Saxon Cockney:
1. The Wrath of Eukor
2. Visions of Utomu
3. Attache of the Dustbins
4. The Tendon of Achilles
5. The Indivisible Opiate
6. The Oedipus Complex
7. Tim & Anne: Relatives Dai Mentioned In Spain
8. Benediction of the Dustbins
9. The Indivisible Opiate II: Hashish
10. Distress of the Quirks
11. The Resuscitation of Jerks
12. Nasty Plan
13. Dr Who Meets Star Trek: Q Who?!
15. Dr Who Meets Pentagon West: Is There A Gynecologist In The House?
16. The Vox Pops of Evil!
17. The Indivisible Opiate III: The Genius of the Gene Genie
18. Dairy of the Autons
19. VCR of the Cybermen
20. The Dustbin Vacation in Pembroke
21. The Indivisible Opiate IV: Nemesis of Doom
22. Broken Doors
The series was unceremoniously curtailed in 1988 when it was discovered that the BBC Doctor Who HADN’T been ended but indeed come up with their own, male Seventh Doctor. The following year the genuine show was genuinely cancelled and American fandom was convinced the BBC were fucking with their minds.
Nevertheless, because of their exposure, the Barbara Benedetti Doctor is so well-known she is second only to Tom Baker in the public perception of Doctor Who. Indeed, the few Americans who bothered to comment on the 2005 Welsh revival complained that the show had wasted Billie Piper playing Rose when she was clearly better Doctor material than the generic gritty Northerner with the ridiculous ears chosen.
Big Finish, by resurrecting the Benedetti Doctor (and leaving her incredibly short-lived replacement Michael Samos where he was), achieved a great surge of public affection... precisely NOT what Nicholas Briggs was after. He consoled himself as the only other widely-known alternative Doctor at the arse end of the 1980s, he was the obvious choice to play the other 'Seventh' Doctor in Twenty-Four.
However, director Ken Brannagh had other ideas and new there was but one other possible choice – Lenny Henry, the first man ever to play a Seventh Doctor back in 1985 in a skit of his incredibly imaginatively-titled The Lenny Henry Show. Thus, the leather-jacketed, scarf-wearing Henry Doctor would be chosen over Briggs.
Briggs spent the rest of the week hiding in the Moat Studios clocktower with an assault rifle. Ironic, really, since this meant McCoy was more than willing to turn up and record some more stories now the bald nutter and his toothbrush were elsewhere.
Like 300 before it... or after it, if you’re being strictly numerical about these things... Twenty-Four’s episodes would each be written by different authors. This time, authors completely new to Big Finish as all the regular ones were avoiding it like the plague thanks to Briggs’ ever-spiraling insanity.
False "False" Gods would be done by Mike Morris, all-round happening dude from the Doctor Who Ratings Guide website, while Unfeasibility of Yusapio was by part-time Patrick Troughton impersonator Nick Scovell who regularly appeared on stage in remakes of The Tub of Cute, Furry and Deep, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder of the Dustbins and The Dustbin Nasty Plan – and was delighted with a chance to pay Briggs back after the bastard had knocked him out in rehearsals and tried to take over the play.
Prolific DW author Mark Michalowski wrote Causalities of War, but I don’t want to discuss him as his name is so freaking difficult to spell. Finally, some guy called Steven Hall penned the finale, Jerk Lord Colin Matthews.
After a massive script-editing session, it was discovered all four writers had simultaneously attempted to plagiarize the 1977 story The Talents of Wong-Jing. Disturbingly, it took 45 attempts before ANY new material was discovered or commissioned.
The finished product may not have had a multi-Doctor/companion smackdown but, all in all, we can thank our lucky stars for that. Good god, have you people FORGOTTEN Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass?! Short story anthologies or ball-bursting slobber-knockers? Gimme the drabble collection any time say I!
Ultimately, Twenty-Four was the death nell of Briggs’ plan to completely ruin Doctor Who on audio. Bar a certain Fifth Doctor story by Paul Magrs, the stories of 2008 had been the most consistently entertaining and competent with fans congratulating Big Finish for not going ape shit and making every story an OV remake. Many congratulated Nicholas Briggs for his restraint in not trying to take over every single aspect of production and making himself canon.
It wasn’t the worst thing that happened to Briggs in 2008 (the bit where he was publicly humiliated by RTD in front of over 20 million TV viewers still pretty much wins that category), but arguably it DID trigger the complete and fundamental nervous breakdown that would, the following year change absolutely everything in every possible and conceivable way.
GOD BLESS US EVERY ONE!!