Wednesday, November 4, 2009

7th Doctor - The Sirens of Time

Serial 7Z - The Tarrants of Time
An Alternative Program Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Guide O' Klaxons


Serial 7Z - The Tarrants of Time -

A fleet of unidentified washing machines possessing incomprehensible technology has laid siege to Gallifrey and is ignoring all attempts at communication. Commander Vansell of the CIA arrives in the Capitol in a specially modified Type 70 TARDIS, with urgent news for the Lord President, Lockwood The Unwilling.

The siege of Gallifrey has not been brought about by the Doctor in any way, shape or form.

However, Vansell has never let the facts stop him and so blackmails the President into allowing him to use their special alien powers to kill the Doctor ASAP.

Lockwood suggests they just send him a message to come back to Gallifrey. Grudgingly, Vansell does so and is not surprised when they get the TARDIS equivalent of the phone off the hook.

Lockwood instead decides Vansell shall project himself to a previous Doctor and explain the situation, so when he reaches his current form he will remember and come to their aid.

However, the previous Doctor drop-kicks Vansell and refuses to listen.

Lockwood finally agrees they might as well kill the Doctor before the end when the washing machine army breaches the boring defenses of Gallifrey and materialize.

The Knights of Vaseline demand the unconditional surrender of the Time Lords, but forget to wait for an answer before slaughtering the lot of them – Lockwood and Vansell included.

It looks like it's going to be one of those days, isn't it?

Part One – The Knight of Vaseline

Aboard the TARDIS, the Seventh Doctor is trying to get his CD player to work normally, but it just continues to skip and jerk worryingly.

The Doctor tries reversing the polarity of the neutron flow, and the CD starts playing backwards - a distant, ethereal sound almost like a voice.

The Doctor deduces this is somehow the Beatles trying to get a secret message to him and so writes down the strange noises the CD makes and, for a laugh, sets the TARDIS to materialize at the coordinates that match the data inputed.

Immediately, the Cloister Bell begins to ring and an urgent message from the Time Lords appears via a ticker-tape machine - but the Doctor merely removes the batteries and scrunches up the teletext message, insisting that if he allows himself to follow gratuitous Time Lord orders even once he will become a heartless, conformist piece of shit.

The TARDIS reappears in a swampy alien jungle on the planet Menrox, conveniently just within shouting distance of Bev Tarrant, who has tripped, sprained her ankle and is now drowning in quicksand.

The Doctor emerges from the police box where stumbles across an unpleasant, cackling old hag which he recognizes as his former companion Evelyn Smythe!

Evelyn refuses to help Bev, and tells the Doctor that soon he and the girl will die painfully. The Doctor thanks her, spits in her face and rescues Bev from the quicksand with a makeshift hovercraft made of his jacket, scarf and umbrella.

Bev explains that she and Zeg were cruising through the infinite realms of hyper space when it smashed into this uncharted planet's massive force field and she is the only survivor.

The Doctor, as he is travelling alone, decides to make the orphaned girl his newest companion.

The Doctor and Bev return to the TARDIS only to find the Time Lord has accidentally locked the keys inside the time machine, but luckily the Doctor spots a lighted window through the trees and the duo head to it as fast as they can.

The window belongs to a share house surrounded by Morrain security droids and occupied by Evelyn and her crippled housemate, Sarcoff.

Tempers are frayed, as Evelyn loathes Sarcoff and hates having to tend to him - all of this down to the distinctly-biased "House Charter by Sarcoff The Cool Person".

Their argument about who's turn it is to the do the washing is interrupted as a planet hopper smashes into the ground outside with sickening force.

As the Doctor and Bev hurry to the rescue, they hear the voice of the pilot say 'Few, that was close,' before the whole wreck explodes.

Two more ships crash and Bev loses all sympathy for the poor wretches aboard. OK, they may not be able to see the planet, but anyone who hasn't noticed four ships smash into the planet at top speed clearly doesn't belong on the space ways.

The final ship to crash releases hoards and hoards of Garvanes emerge. The Garvanes were once the most advanced and adept creatures in the galaxy, but a bunch of tin soldiers calling themselves the Knights of Vaseline encountered them and infected them with chimpanzee DNA for the sheer hell of it.

The Garvanes are now pink-faced baboons whose consciousness are at the mercy of mad, uncontrollable impulses, and they can no longer use their own technology.

Now, armed with baboon-friendly blunderbusses, the Garvanes have come to Menrox for their revenge.

As the Garvanes and Morrain robots engage in vaguely erotic Greco-Roman wrestling, the Doctor and Bev flee inside the share house under the pretence for borrowing a cup of sugar.

Evelyn immediately throws them back out of the house into the oncoming path of the Garvanes, who open fire with their blunderbusses.

The Doctor and Bev escape, but Evelyn sprains her ankle and is left for dead. Running upstairs to Sarcoff's bedroom, they find him listening to Cream records and reading a comic book adaptation of Das Kapital.

Sarcoff explains that he was the leader of the Vaseline Knights, but when the Knights decided to take the weekend off they were captured and rounded up - Sarcoff sentenced to life imprisonment on Menrox with the one person as screwed up as he is, Evelyn Smythe.

As the Garvanes storm the house, the Doctor decides to muck about with the fuse box.

The baboon people break into the second level, take aim, make a boring speech of self-justification and open fire in a distinctly cliffhanger-style moment that loses a lot in omnibus viewings.

Part Two – Ship of Density

Fleeing Gallifrey in a stolen TARDIS after throwing scalding hot tea in the face of a Time Lord official, the Fifth Doctor lands the TARDIS in the hold of a British merchant ship, hoping that there will be no convenient source of time distortion for his pursuers to detect.

Oddly enough, there IS one and moments later a gleaming TARDIS materializes and the Doctor's old fag, Vansell, arrives to deal with the distortion which threatens all time and all space. The Doctor doesn't believe this for a moment and immediately kung-fu kicks Vansell back in his fancy time machine and out into the back of beyond.

However, before the Doctor can reenter his TARDIS and run like hell, he hears the sound of CDs skipping and is confronted by a suspicious crew-woman who demands to know what he's doing here. The Doctor claims he is an alien being with powers and abilities beyond mortal belief.

The woman decks him unconscious and carries him off to the captain when a German U-boat's deck guns open fire on the ship. The Doctor's not having a good day as the boat sinks, leaving him and the woman prisoner of the Germans – who decide to use the survivors as ship's cook and concubine. Maybe not respectively, though.

Captain Swine is suspicious of the Doctor, who is apparently an educated young man who speaks textbook German yet isn't serving in the war and refuses to give his name. What REALLY rubs him up the wrong way is the guy smelling of wet celery, which really turns everyone's stomach inside the air-tight submarine.

The Doctor suddenly announces he is a German spy and must be obeyed in all things – and the crew-woman, Tarrant, decks him unconscious again. The Time Lord is locked in a cell where Tarrant suddenly goes berserk again and attempts to beat him to death for no apparent reason. Again.

At this point, the Doctor simply swears, pulls out a cross-bow and punctures the side of the U-boat, which promptly begins to sink. As the Germans and Tarrant drown in indescribably agony, the Doctor swims for the TARDIS, which is conveniently floating nearby.

Suddenly, a Time Bandits-style portal appears and the Doctor plummets into...

Part Three – Dearth of Wonders

The Sixth Doctor is furious that his latest companion, Evelyn Smythe, has in her senile dementia mistaken the TARDIS console for a fruit machine. She has now piloted the time machine into a temporal anomaly in the belief she has hit jackpot.

Panicking, the Doctor hits every control on the console in the hope some seldom-used teleport might activate and expel him from the TARDIS to safety.

To his indescribable surprise, it works.

The Doctor awakes, facedown in a bowl of rum punch. He has been transported to a hospitality suite aboard the star liner Eddie and a waitress named Tarrant has mistaken him for a delegate whose mordant alcoholism has taken a turn for the worse.

The Doctor, now heavily intoxicated, slurs his thanks and explains he has completely forgotten who, what, where, when and how he comes to be – and has he met her before?

After allowing the Doctor to vomit for a few moments, Tarrant explains that they are aboard a starship with delegates from the Galactic Wonders Commission, a bunch of jerks who would be the first up against the wall the day the revolution came.

They have been invited to study the so-called Turdes Wonder, a distinctly smelly gaseous anomaly, at close range. The government of Turdes Prime is desperately trying to convince the delegates to enter the Wonder into the galactic tourist guide, hoping to boost the planet's economy and end its recession. Why they didn't just simply change the name of their planet is a mystery.

The Doctor has his suspicions this isn't the mere by-product of an alien space-jellyfish breaking wind in their direction, but something a lot weirder. On top of that, he can clearly see the TARDIS suspended in the filthy brown gas cloud.

In the cockpit, the wasted captain has drunkenly offered to be shoved naked through a cheese-grater by the android pilot Harry Bender (or Bender to you, meat-bag). Bender takes this the wrong way and after the horrific scenes of bloody death slams the Eddie straight through the smelly Wonder, closer than anyone has been before and lived.

The stench kills off the entire crew of five and a half thousand -except Bender, the Doctor and Tarrant (who puts her survival down to a coincidental and very lucky bout of hay fever). The ship is ruined, too – that stink has taken the paint of the walls, and the lining from the engines!

The Doctor is mildly suspicious of Tarrant's miraculous survival of the smell, but he needs a companion figure and decides not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Meanwhile, having teamed up with Bender, the Doctor and Tarrant discover that some of the crew survived the smell of the Turdes Wonder and have mutated into hideous freaks.

Fleeing, the trio stumble into the cockpit to discover the Eddie is now drifting back towards the Turdes Wonder. It seems they are all monumentally boned.

In order to take their minds off their certain doom, Tarrant announces she is part of an underground telepathic cult that have suspected for a long time some creature is trapped in the Turdes Wonder, an ancient gastronomic catastrophe frozen in time.

Tarrant intended to reveal to the delegates a CD containing proof of her claims, but they were all like the Doctor – badly dressed deviants wasted on duty free.

The CD is a documentary-drama entitled "Operation: Catch Temperon" – an attempt to imprison the mythical time beast (its name derived from its full name "Temperamental Moron", a sub-species of Tom-Tit monster). The only way to do this was overload its olfactory senses in the hideous Turdes Wonder. Unfortunately, whoever was trying this forgot to get out of the way and have been sucked into the gas cloud as well.

However, none of this brilliant exposition has stopped the Eddie from plunging into the Turdes Wonder.

Before the stench can reach him the Doctor is teleported to safety while Tarrant and Bender wither to death.

The Doctor finds himself back inside the TARDIS with Evelyn, who now believes the console is a cigarette machine and is desperate for a packet of Benson & Hedges Extra Mild.

The TARDIS is inside the Turdes Wonder, along with the Temperon. The Doctor decides to dematerialize as soon as he can and, despite his best efforts, the Temperon grabs hold of the TARDIS and begs for a lift.

"No hitchhikers," screams the Doctor, boosting the power.

The TARDIS breaks free of the Turdes Wonder, freeing the Temperon – and the slippery and pliant Knights of Vaseline, who spread out in all directions.

The Doctor whistles, embarrassed, and decides to leave quietly...

...only to be sucked into a Time Bandits-style portal!

Part Four – The Curse of The Temperamental Moron

Back on Menrox, the Seventh Doctor has... sigh... reversed the polarity of the neutron flow, which not only protects himself, Bev and Sarcoff, but also reverts the Garvanes back to their previous attractive forms.

It also sends their gunshots back at them and kills the overjoyed soldiers stone dead, but, as the Doctor shrugs, you can't have everything.

Leaving Bev to become Sarcoff's new roomie, the Doctor doffs his hat and leaves the room.

He is, however, surprised when the door leads him to a ruined Panopticon on Gallifrey. His hopes of a massive party are doused when his fifth and sixth incarnation drag themselves from the rubble to meet him.

The younger Doctors wonder where the Time Lords are, what has happened to Gallifrey, why has the Temperon crossed the Doctor's time stream to bring all three of them together, and who are the Sirens of Time?

The Seventh Doctor, however, has lived through this twice, remembers it all, and is bored rigid.

He sighs and explains that they have all been dragged from dubious solo adventures with a temporary companion called Tarrant.

The Seventh Doctor then hides as a time ship materializes, just as he remembers, and the others quickly hide with him. The Seventh Doctor wastes no time in finding a service duct and crawling down while his former selves watch the battle-suited Knights of Vaseline return to their conquered Gallifrey, lead by Knight Commander Tarrant.

The Knights turn on the Fifth and Sixth Doctors, and the Sixth flees screaming while the Fifth decides to stay behind out of sheer nobility - although the fact he clearly cannot die until his seventh incarnation does help somewhat.

The Seventh Doctor searches for the Temperon while the Sixth Doctor looks around and tries to piece together what is happening.

The Seventh Doctor just shakes his head - the Sixth has lived through this once before, can't he even TRY to remember it?

The older Time Lord narrates what is happening and shows that the Knights of Vaseline require constant lubrication, and that the Tarrants have manipulated them into allowing the Knights the advantages needed to conquer the universe. As you do.

Meanwhile, Commander Tarrant asks the Fifth Doctor politely to change history back as controlling all of creation isn't half as fun as it could be.

The cricketer Time Lord refuses to do it, believing it to be a trap, and demands the Knight get down on her knees before him and beg for mercy. When she does so, the Doctor shrugs and agrees.

The Seventh Doctor, meanwhile, has decided that the various Tarrants they meet are all manifestations of an evil, Lovecraftian nightmare, that exists outside/between/behind the latitude of Time Lord minds, feasting on the temporal distortion they have created.

The Sixth Doctor tells him to get a life and moves to release the Temperon, but the Fifth worries that if they do this they will be stuck in the grasp of the Tarrants forever.

The Doctors decide to kill the Temperon there and then, creating a time-space pulse which should restore things to normal.

The Temperon insists that there must be another way, but the Sixth Doctor just cackles insanely and advances on it with a large and very sharp fire axe...

A cheap negative effect leaves the three Doctor standing outside the TARDIS on Menrox, just as the Garvanes storm the share house and kill Sarcoff and Evelyn.

They can also hear the plaintive cries of Bev Tarrant as she sinks into the quicksand.

The Fifth Doctor dismisses it as another trick by the Evil from the Dawn of Time and the Seventh Doctor snaps, sick of living through the same adventure for the first time and how the Fifth and Sixth Doctors have it easy! At least THEY know they have an admittedly nauseating future. What's left for him, then?

It is at this point, he notices a letter blue-tacked to the side of the TARDIS and gets incredibly annoyed. Refusing to disclose its contents and, looking rather embarrassed, the Seventh Doctor urges the other Doctor into his TARDIS, promising to return them to their time streams via an interface.

Unfortunately, said interface leaves the Fifth Doctor in Kamelion's bedroom – which he takes totally the wrong way.

The Sixth Doctor reappears in the TARDIS with Evelyn, whom he promptly ties up and gags. "Do that again and I'll dump you on a jungle planet in the middle of nowhere and leave you to the mercy of the baboons!"

Now alone, the Doctor takes a second look at the note:

"Dear Doctor,
Here is a spare TARDIS key.
Don't lose it again, you
stupid Scottish bastard. Do
something sensible, like getting
a secret cubbyhole above the
door or something like that.
Yours, possibly,
the Eighth Doctor

P.S.: You were wrong.
The Tarrant thing is
just a coincidence."

At this the Seventh Doctor looks worried as Bev's distant cries for help are finally muffled.

He just prays that when he becomes the Eighth Doctor and drops off a spare key, he doesn't get caught in the adventure all over again...

Book(s)/Other Related –
Doctor Who & The Importance of Being Tarrant
Doctor Who Kills Nazis With A Crossbow
Doctor Who Spoiled: Seasons 21-27
The Works of Quentin Tarrant-ino
'Why I Never Trusted the Bastard' by Roj Blake
The Hitchhiker's Guide To Galactic Outlaw Penal Colonies

Fluffs - Sylvester McCoy seemed resigned to his fate in this story
Colin Baker seemed rather the same in this story
Peter Davison seemed a damned good shot in this story

"I've lost my bearings completely! How will I make that fruit salad now?"

Goofs –
The huge, Gothic Revival control room in this story resembles the interior of an Outside Broadcast Van. There's even someone editing this very serial next the hatstand!

Okay, one flimsy little arrow can sink a U-Boat?? THAT MUST BE ONE BLOODY POWERFUL CROSS-BOW!

Fashion Victims –
Sarcoff seems to be wearing Pertwee's hand-me-downs, especially the psychedelic cape and transparent plastic bobble hat.

One of the baboon-like Garvanes looks distinctly odd in that lab coat.

Technobabble –
The Seventh Doctor suspects that a field of "kamikaze particles" surrounded Menrox, causing countless ships to crash there.

The Fifth Doctor's handy crossbow works on the 'U-boat decay isotope' principal.

Links and References -
In the first episode, a concussed Seventh Doctor initially mistakes Sarcoff for Michael Palin (Serial D). It is heavily implied the mysterious CD-skipping in this story was created both by Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass and Nicholas Briggs (Serial 8N).

The Fifth Doctor believes Vansell wants revenge for the events of 'The Four And A Half Doctors', when, er, he doesn't. I think.

Untelevised Misadventures -
The Second Doctor once had to team up with a giant cockroach called Ekk to defeat the Garvanes back in their humanoid form. As far as I can make out, he did this via an archery competition from a hot air balloon. The revelation that the Garvanes were defeated by some arrows from a badly-dressed anarchist and a giant cockroach in a hot air balloon just reinforces Sarcoff's defense that turning the Garvanes into baboons was ultimately doing them all a favor.

We never DO find out how the Doctor convinced Kamelion he was not that way inclined (at least, in his Fifth incarnation).

Groovy DVD Extras -
The behind-the-scenes footage of the production team finally realizing that Bev Tarrant actually WAS drowning and not, as assumed, just a really good actor.

Artists impressions of Tarrant naked (see Dialogue Disasters).

Dialogue Disasters -

7th Doctor: Are we being watched?
Sarcoff: No, we're on audio, dumbass!

Tarrant: So, Doc, whatcha think of me naked body, den?
5th Doctor: Well... A hole that big in a person usually indicates one hell of a future in the porn industry!

KC Tarrant: The only place you can find a really good gin and tonic -
6th Doctor: - is at a really good gin and tonic retailer!
7th Doctor: Give me strength...


Dialogue Triumphs -

Bev Tarrant: For someone so short you're taking up a lot of room.
7th Doctor: Steady, girl, don't get overexcited.

7th Doctor: I do hope you're not putting me out.
Evelyn: Nobody is putting you out... of my misery. Hahaha! Spit!

5th Doctor: Do you know, talking to yourself is often thought to be the first sign of madness?
6th Doctor: Ah yes, but a little madness helps, don't you think?
7th Doctor: Not in your case - and put down that axe, you madman!

7th Doctor: [choking] God help us, I'm suffocating!!
6th Doctor: Sorry about that. I had boiled cabbage last night.
5th Doctor: Where's a handy ventilation duct when you need one?

UnQuotable Quote -

5th Doctor: I'm afraid I couldn't, even if I tried.

Viewer Quotes -

"The Tarrants of Time, the long-anticipated opening story from Big Finish, revitalizing the audio medium of Doctor Who in every way possible, striving for the highest possible quality of acting, special effects and storytelling and not giving a tinker's cuss about anything else is the most all-important story in history. Pity it's such a dull one. The way Sylvester McCoy began the episode, foreshadowing his next and final opening scene, by wrestling with the TARDIS controls, was inspired. Or maybe just cliched. It wasn't McCoy at his best, but then I love the bastard regardless. But I couldn't care less that Paul McGann takes over in the next story."
- Extremely Fickle Review Monthly (2000)

"The production is homogenous to the point of being cluttered, there are no real discernible scenes as such, more one long rambling collection of non-events which leave the listener entirely unsympathetic towards the characters. There is no dramatic pacing at all and no delineation of structure to give the listener chance to reflect on what is happening or to allow the listener to connect with the character on anything other than a superficial level. The end result is apathy. Who could care less about what this strange collage of explosions, zaps and robotic voices is actually all about? By the end of the first CD I'd realised I'd found the perfect cure for my insomnia, and the second CD felt like a trial of endurance. The division of the story into four episodes should have allowed sufficient scope for the gradual building of some sort of dramatic tension. As Who fans, we have come to expect to be able to savour that cliffhanger at the end of episode one. Instead the experience was more a damp squib than fireworks in the sky. Oh, sorry, I thought we were talking about Darkness Falls..." – Some Guy (2000)

"I'd have to say it wasn't an abysmal episode, but it wasn't spectacular. So is The Tarrants Of Time a success? I would say a guarded yes, but to take it with a pinch of salt. In fact, I've taken so many pinches of salt, I've developed something of a heart condition." - Dave Restal (2000)

"Tarrant is another name I use for Airplane Jelly. Jelly is evil. What more needs to be said?" – Nutters Incorporated (1999)

"No doubt there will be many fans out there who will cry "Heretic" at what I have just said, just on the grounds that Big Finish have been granted permission to stamp the letters BBC on the front cover, but the problem doesn't lie with the acting, the quality of the recording but resides at a far more fundamental level. The Tarrants of Time is simply flat, dull and lifeless. It doesn't reflect the spirit of the original TV series and has none of that magic which hooked us all on fans in the first place. For Who-geeks only."
- Babylon 5 Magazine Review (1999)

"It would be unfair to judge what a new series of Doctor Who in audio format would be like, due to this one multi Doctor adventure. But then, life ISN'T fair! Life is UNFAIR! It's a stream of PAIN, HUMILIATION and SORROW that empties out into an OCEAN of NOTHINGNESS! Oh, GOD!!!"
- Suicidal Sci-Fi Supplement (2004)

"...I have decided to become DWM's permanent Big Finish correspondent, and be involved with all new audio plays from this moment onwards. I believe that, with my journalistic flair and interviewing technique, this post will become as memorable as the Doctor Who? cartoons or the funny comments at the bottom of the contents page. I passionately support these new audio adventures, and it is this energy that compels me to offer my services. It has nothing, absolutely nothing - and I'd like to repeat that - nothing to do with the hoards of naked young ladies that Colin Baker exports into the studio to 'create atmosphere'. I'm there for Doctor Who and Doctor Who only."
- a failed job application by Ewen Campion-Clarke (1999)

"After nine years of absence from our screens, it would be fair to say that the time was ripe for the return of the good Doctor. The audio format, to date rather neglected in Doctor Who, has been chosen by the BBC as the means of the program's regeneration. Possibly then, this story is the most eagerly anticipated release since its return after the 1986 hiatus with Mistrial of a Time Lord. Expectations are naturally running high. But this was shit, so I decided to stick to watching Dark Angel. Jessica Alba ROCKS!" - Nigel Verkoff (1999)

"To any seasoned fan The Tarrants of Time simply isn't recognizable as Doctor Who - instead, it far closer resembles the earlier Oddly Visual stories that many of the crew made in the late Eighties, early Nineties. They were spin-off stories that featured a "Doctor" but in a context far different than the proper program. Tarrants seems to have only progressed from the OV stories in the sense that they are at last using the authentic actors."
- Mephisto, before his brutal murder at the hands of Nick Briggs (2000)

"I also have to admit that I missed the companions. The dynamic between Doctors is interesting to listen to, but with no familiar companions around, it made this adventure a little less Who-ish to me. And, y'know, the lack of gratuitous female nudity did tend to grate after a while. I didn't see a single tit in four whole damn episodes. Audio my arse!" - Nigel Verkoff (later that day)

Psychotic Nostalgia -
"This story was... a true inspiration for me. It became so easy to catch drifting women after I dug that foxhole and filled it with quicksand. On the down side, I don't manage to rescue nine out of ten women, but I'm sure the bodies will return to the surface sooner or later."

Sylvester McCoy Speaks!
"I was slightly put out, I must admit, that while Colin and Peter were roped in to play, er, 'missing' adventures, where as I was told point blank that my first episode was, in fact, the last one before Doctor Root & The Enema Within. I was certain that this would be a sort of spit-in-a-tea-cup scenario and I'd be back on the streets in five minutes. But then I found out that they were ringing up the others' companions and working out more missing stories. I was quite shocked and talked to Gay Russell and asked if I was going to be in stories like that, and he grinned and said of course, of course. But I did notice that when he walked off, he was swearing loudly."

Colin Baker Speaks!
"I've been in a few of these multi-Doctor stories... Arc of Sinfinity, The Phantom of Androzani, The Even Doctors, Lame Shit, Mistrial of a Time Lord, The Fucked-Up Dimension, Dimensions in Lime. Odd how so few of them were critically-acclaimed - or even critically-tolerated - but it's still good to gang up with the rest of them and work together. Of course, this isn't the first time I've been the Doctor on audio. I've been told many times that I've the perfect face for radio..."

Peter Davison Speaks!
"This was the first time I've played the Doctor on the radio, well, on audio. It's a fantastic wrench, being deprived of the visual medium. I mean, on TV, I could have snarled with anger, but the twinkle in my eyes would have conveyed the true meaning, but you can't do that over audio. All the facial expressions and body language go out the window. It was quite a challenge and I really had to go back to my roots as an actor, and really find a bland, indifferent inflexion to my voice. It very nearly worked, too, because my voice has, ah, actually darkened a bit, over the years. I had it checked out, and apparently it's a biological reaction to wearing all those dog collars. It's a recognized medical condition for all actors who play vicars, sadly."

Trivia -
This was the first Big Finish story. Sorry, but there are over two hundred Doctor Who stories available and it IS a bit hard to find some shocking secret truth about every single damned one of the bastards!

Rumors & Facts -
I never expect any series to get things right the first time out, but just for once, just ONCE, couldn't they at least have TRIED??!?

Unlike the makers of Doctor Root & the Enema Within, Big Finish didn’t have to encapsulate the whole of Doctor Who in just a single story. But they did it anyway, the crazy, crazy bastards.

It would be entirely wrong to base judgement on Big Finish on this one story, but do it anyway – it saves a hell of a lot of time.

Big Finish Productions Ltd began in 1996, set up by Gay Russell after his previous companies Page One Productions, Photo Finish Productions, Rock Solid Productions and At Last, A Dragon! Productions fell through.

These companies were named after episodes of Press Gang and it is telling it took Gay Russell until the final episode of Series 2 of Press Gang before anything stuck.

Big Finish was forced to adapt Bernice Summerfield books and New Adventures in order to pay the bills while the creative team lay around all day, smoking and bitching that they weren't doing proper stuff like Doctor Who, Blake's 7 or hardcore Dutch pornography (which had been the cornerstone of Rock Solid Productions).

Russell had been pestering the BBC since 1996 to make audio-dramas of Doctor Who - not because he particularly liked the idea of audio Doctor Who, in fact with his background in Nicholas Briggs' Oddly Visual empire, had an insane hatred of the media, but knew its inherent cheapness could work quite well on CD.

The continual BBC reply, that the rights situation with Doctor Who was still in flux, when the corporation sold the franchise for a Mars Bar and a copy of Backdoor Sluts IX.

In 1998, the BBC magnanimously decided to let Big Finish do all the hard work in regard to 35th anniversary merchandise, including the Sixth Doctor and Peri audio Out of the Darkness of the Closet and the Eighth Doctor talking book Smurf And Beyond.

Russell and the producer of Big Finish plays, Jason Haigh-Ellery, continued to bombard the BBC with phone calls, letters, emails, notes tied to rocks and singing telegrams until Stephen Cole finally snapped and promised they could produce as may ground-breaking, all-new, full-length audio dramas of Doctor Who, Blakes 7, Sapphire & Steel, The Tomorrow People, anything as long as they left them alone.

Gay Russell immediately decided to make the first Big Finish release a blockbuster event featuring all the Doctors uniting against the deadly Dustbin Empire, when JHE politely reminded him they hadn't actually GOT the rights to the Dustbins yet.

Russell took this on board and suggested they have a massive extravaganza starring all the Doctors, just without Dustbins - but Nicholas Briggs, who was on day release at the time, reminded him that three were dead, two just wouldn't do it, and the remainder were crap.

In his mind, there was only one person who had the talent, experience and commitment to become the audio Doctor - Briggs himself!

Russell replied by kicking him in the shin and blackmailing Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker and Peter Davison into appearing in an initial run of four-episode stories.

With hardly any time to come up with scripts, Briggs cunningly suggested they plan the fan loyalty card and create a multi-Doctor story 'with a twist'.

As Briggs had co-written and controlled every single episode of the seventy Oddly Visuals, he was the only person that could do it in time.

The Big Finish production team were on tenterhooks as Briggs mapped out the idea of three individual stories, with them finally coming together to solve a linking mystery.

The first episode with the Seventh Doctor would begin with him bludgeoning Mel unconscious (thus meaning they did not require Sophie Aldred or Bonnie Langford for the story) to land of Spustik Island, where the Knights of Vaseline were trying to rescue their leader, the son of the Wank Lord from 1969's The Wank Games. This idea was vetoed by Russell as, not only had Terrance Dicks used that sickeningly unbelievable bit of sequel fodder in every single one of his 'original' novels, it was a crap idea to start with.

The second episode would feature the Fifth Doctor on the Titanic, with amnesia and trying to get lucky. This idea was dismissed as being 'something out of a Bill Baggs BBV CD' and promptly stolen by Alan Barnes to be used for the Eighth Doctor debut Sick Morning two years later, in the fulfilled hope no one would notice.

The third episode, about the Sixth Doctor getting wasted on a business trip that was struck by a disaster from some horrible smells, was based on Briggs' memories of kindergarten school.

As yet, there were no gratuitous roles for him to play, or references to an obscure scene in episode three of The Space Mail, and so the play The Klaxons of Time was taken as given.

Little did they realize that the 'twist' of the tale would have the Temperon change history and create a brand new universe, canceling out the three present Doctors and changing him into a new, balder, toothbrush-wielding psychotic...

In short, the Klaxons of Time would be the first story of the Nicholas Briggs Doctor, who already had three scripts ready to record (Bored of Ironing, The Mutant Phrase and Inuit in Hull).

However, at this point, Briggs watched the three leads acting with such TALENT that he hemorrhaged on the spot.

And so a quick re-write of the story by Gay Russell allowed a reasonable ending, and shifting the emphasis onto the four characters named Tarrant in what Briggs had intended to be a bit of fourth wall mockery, but insiders knew that Briggs simply didn't have that much imagination to speak of.

Stephen Cole quickly ensured that BBC Worldwide had it written into their bible that under no circumstances was there to be a new Doctor/companion team, and that Paul McGann was never to regenerate into Nicholas Briggs in any situation.

Already, the first twenty-two releases had been mapped out.

1. "Tarrants of Time" by Nick Briggs (5th, 6th & 7th Doctors)
2. "Phantasmagoria Is In Nigel Verkoff's Pants" by Nigel Verkoff (5th Doctor)
3. "The Sound of Music" by Justin Richards (6th Doctor)
4. "The Monger of Fish" by Jonathon Plum (7th Doctor)
5. "The Mutant Phrase" by Nick Briggs (5th Doctor - Dustbins)
6. "The Orgasm Phrase" by Colin Brake (6th Doctor - Dustbins)
7. "The Jazzocize Phrase" by Mick Trucker (7th Doctor - Dustbins)
8. "Parallel 69" by Steven Cole (8th Doctor)
9. "Roman Around" by Jac Raynor (6th Doctor)
10. "Peanut of the Cybermen" by Peter Anghelides (7th Doctor)
11. "Endurance" by Nick Briggs (8th Doctor – Bilurians)
12. "The Stoner's Lagoon" by Paul Magrs (4th Doctor)
13. "Placenta Effect" by Gay Russell (8th Doctor)
14. "The Railway Station" by Rob Shearman (4th Doctor)
15. "Wild, Wild North" by Alan Barnes (5th Doctor)
16. "Fear of Circus Midgets" by Nick Pegg (4th Doctor)
17. "Re-Written Episode of Press Gang" by Steven Moffat (8th Doctor)
18. "Doctor Who Goes Psycho-Bonkers With A Black And Decker Drill During Sex" by Andy Lane (6th Doctor)
19. "Christ, I'm a Miserable Old Bugger" by Paul Carnall (8th Doctor)
20. "Goth Night – The Explanation" by Mark Plate (7th Doctor)
21. "I Am Wasting My Life" by Jason Haigh-Ellory
22. "The Mozzarella Phrase" by Mark Plate (8th Doctor – Dustbins)

Unfortunately, said outline was immediately used in an impromptu paper-plane competition between Mark Gatiss and John Wadmore.

There was a real sense of hope and optimism during the Spring of 1999 as to the future of Big Finish, Doctor Who and humanity in general.

Three days later, however, everything was back to normal.

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