Serial 7C/E – Project: Nightlight
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Ultraviolet
Serial 7C/E – Project: Nightlight -
Arriving in London, the Doctor decides to head for a Chinese takeaway called the Slow Boat and orders some Peking Crispy Duck. This is not because it is particularly enjoyable, but contains so much bacteria that it gives the Time Lord immune system a kick up the arse and is recommended by anyone that survives the Slow Boat's Prawn Cocktail.
Evelyn however, discovers that the Nosferatu Nosh Kitchen opposite the Slow Boat is doing a new line of disemboweled pigeons and stray cats and dogs in refried black bean sauce.
The Doctor tuts at this Americanized fast food price war, and he and Evelyn wander off, bored. A moment later a tall, dark, sinister man in a blond wig and knickerbockers steps out of the restaurant and fires a harpoon into a passer-by's chest. The Doctor and Evelyn assume this is performance art and chuck the grievously injured man a coin and decide to try Nosferatu Nosh themselves.
The body self-combusts.
The Doctor applauds sarcastically and asks for the wine list. Evelyn gets bored and discovers a change machine and assumes it is some ludicrously clever poker game.
The waitress Amelia suspects that the Doctor is more than he seems, possibly a restaurant critic from Michelin, or perhaps a health inspector. At this point the Doctor throws a knife across the room and demands some hot chips and tomato sauce pronto or he'll make a scene.
The chef, Reggie, tries to cover the fact his culinary skills make orangutans blush and engages the Doctor in casual conversation. Did he happen to see that mysterious harpoon-throwing killer? Has he had that coat long? Would he like to check out a complimentary ride in the Inquisitorial Torture Lounge with some hot chocolate?
The Doctor yawns and makes his serviette into a swan shape, noting it has PROPERTY OF TOUCHWOOD printed on it in a bold, smug type face. Reggie and Amelia, still trying to distract the Doctor from the fact they only provide raw domestic pet corpses with salad, explain that this restaurant is part of a youth training scheme created by the Touchwood Institute as part of Tony Blair’s initiative drives. The staff are all homeless, destitute or ex-cons.
The Doctor yawns and asks for some complimentary bread.
Amelia believes on absolutely no evidence whatsoever that the restaurant is a cover for some kind of genetic experiments to create the ultimate super soldiers. In which case, they are clearly useless at it as Reggie can't even SPELL reconnaissance, let alone take on M15 style missions into enemy territory. In fact, they are both so dull and unobservant, they haven't noticed the other waitress, Cassie, stealing the cutlery and the contents of a cash register.
Evelyn heads for the bathroom and something that can't possibly be human ducks in first and locks the door. Moments later, there is the distinctive sound of something that can't possibly be human being skewered by something that can't possibly be anything but a harpoon.
The Doctor is now so bored he orders a pizza as Amelia and Reggie regale him with stories of the mysterious knickerbocker-clad harpoon-wielding maniac they know only as Numbskull. It appears Numbskull is an incredibly protective customer of the Slow Boat and is determined to have it survive the financial year by any and all means necessary.
A small boy called Hex wanders into the restaurant and asks Cassie if she's finished playing with vampires and can come to parent teacher night? Cassie smacks Hex and tells him to piss off, she's busy.
Evelyn meanwhile is trying to break the code that the old newspapers have been written in, coming to the logical conclusion she is just being stupid and reading them upside down.
The Doctor, waiting for the pizza, helps remove the corpse from the bathroom as Reggie and Amelia ponder on this action. Is it a warning? A threat? A coincidence there purely to provide a cliffhanger?
The Doctor shrugs and rings UNIT to demand to know where the hell his pizza has got to. They SAID 20 minutes, damn it! As he argues on the phone, he wanders into the kitchen and finds Matthew the cleaner mopping up a very large pool of blood.
"Missed a bit," the Doctor mutters.
The pizza delivery boy pulls up outside the restaurant when the harpoon-firing Numbskull fires a bolt that severs the bike's brake cable and sends it into the Thames. The dedicated delivery boy tries to hurl the pizza to safety, but he touches the water and combusts. Considering the types of pollution in British water, it's nothing spectacular to write home about.
The Doctor sobs miserably. That pizza would have been delicious!
Numbskull is disappointed to see the legendary Doctor helping Reggie and Amelia. They have more blood on their hands than the Doctor can imagine – and they don't wash their hands before preparing meals!
The Doctor, furious at the destruction of his pizza, uses a taser to electrocute Numbskull's testicles before he can reveal the whole truth. It is then, the Doctor realizes that Reggie and Amelia have no reflections whatsoever. They're the undead! Creatures of the night! VWUM-PIHREZ!
"That explains the lack of garlic in the meals," the Doctor muses, before wandering off to get some McDonalds.
Furious at losing their customer, Reggie smashes up the restaurant and everything in it with a baseball bat. He's worked thirty minutes to get where he is, and won’t stand for this disrespect.
At McDonalds, the Doctor waits impatiently to be served and decides to vent his frustrations by killing every vwum-pihrez on the planet. In fact, he's sung all thirty seven verses of the Ballad of Zig-Zag-Gay-Ass before the staff notice him.
Desperate to keep Evelyn as a customer, Amelia explains that the Touchwood Institute was unable to cope with the crumbling British Empire of 1915. Most of its members became Goths and started listening to Cradle of Filth and experimenting with face paint. One of the scientists, William Abberton (or Vile Experimentor as he started to call himself) tried to take the Goth to extreme and turn the blackest, most poetry-spouting soulless fiends into vwum-pihrez.
Evelyn says, "That's nice dear," and starts mixing her medication.
Reggie decides that as cat, dog, pigeon, horse and fairy penguin burgers are not selling, they will have to step up to human flesh. Renaming the restaurant EAT THE RICH!, Reggie brains Cassie with a frying pan and shoves her into a mincer. A mincer he smashed with a baseball bat and thus is totally useless.
Reggie concedes the situation requires more thought.
The Doctor finishes his happy meal and heads back to the TARDIS when Numbskull returns and points out Evelyn is in the hands of vicious blood-sucking vwum-pihrez who will destroy humanity if the Doctor does not continue to patronize the Slow Boat.
The Doctor jabs Numbskull in the groin with the tazer again, and walks off, finishing his slurpie. He then realizes he left his keys with Evelyn and, faced with the realization that he must go back to face her, bursts into tears at the extent of his failure.
Back at EAT THE RICH, Cassie has unwisely shared needles and has now become a vampire. She is struck by the richness of sounds and colours, so when the Doctor arrives, Cassie has an epileptic fit and falls over, twitching for the rest of the story.
To take his mind of the despair of being with Evelyn, the Doctor breaks into the storeroom and finds... NOTHING AT ALL! Wait, did I give that needless build up? Oh well.
Reggie flies into a rage. For some reason. Maybe because the breakfast menu has a couple of spelling mistakes in them. So furious in fact, he starts punching himself with a harpoon. He soon explodes.
Numbskull enters and explains he is Immortal, chosen by the powers that be to walk the Earth, hunt down the unclean vwum-pihrez and also make the Slow Boat the most popular Chinese Takeaway on Earth!
Amelia shoots him through the neck with a harpoon.
The Doctor, bored, opens a storeroom full of dynamite and throws a lighted match in. This story is boring him shitless so he’s ditching it like a lepper's codpiece.
As the Time Lord strolls away from the restaurant, it explodes.
Tragically, both Numbskull and Evelyn and Cassie AND Amelia survive. Somehow.
The Doctor pushes Amelia into the Thames and she explodes, and offers Cassie a place on the TARDIS. A South London vampire chick works for him in ways Evelyn never will, but he refuses to change his outfit for anyone. When Cassie critiques his little kitty kat badge, the Doctor kicks her out into Norway, land of the rising sun.
However, it turns out the whole anti-sun thing is bull crap and Cassie, Numbskull and Amelia survive in incredibly pathetic and obvious bit of sequel fodder.
Book(s)/Other Related -
Doctor Who Dines Alone
Fangs With Finesse: Gore, Gambling and Garlic Galore
The "background detail from spin-offs that is so more interesting than the real thing which is why you only find out about it online" section of www.touchwood.co.uk/
Colin Baker sounds rather like he's eaten a horse in the first episode.
"I guess that makes me a paste on the arse."
"A patron of the arts?"
I don't want you to think I'm weird or anything, but trust me: that blood would have to be watered down to pour that easily. It's a bitch with the real stuff.
Or so I'm told.
The Slow Boat works on "reversing the polarity of the MSG flow."
Links and References -
The Doctor considers dumping Evelyn with the Sexual Toymaker who is stuck making a living as a sideshow at Blackpool (The Nightmare Care-Bear Fair).
The Canary Wharf Tower boasts a huge banner saying TOUCHWOOD ROCKS!
Untelevised Misadventures -
The Doctor first discovered the delights of the Slow Boat Chinese takeaway during a pub crawl that lead him to the war cabinet's secret tunnels under the Thames in the Second World War.
"That was one hell of a night," the Doctor muses.
Groovy DVD Extras -
Bram Stoker is beaten up by a bunch of genuine vampires for his negative media stereotype perpetuating offensive and outdated myths. Then they drink his blood and laugh diabolically.
Dialogue Disasters -
Doctor: Helping those creatures goes against every fibre of my being! We were fool enough to unleash their evil into the universe! However, until my extra-large pepperoni pizza arrives, I don’t have anything better to do. So, morally, I win.
Numbskull: You wouldn't be interested in something long, wet, spicy and refreshing for your evening meal?
Doctor: I'll stick to my sweet-and-sour chicken balls.
Numbskull: You better, bitch! You better!
Doctor: Sorry, are you a male prostitute or not?
Numbskull: Uh... No.
(The Doctor jabs him in the goolies with a tazer.)
Doctor: Wrong answer.
Cassie: Call me crazy, but I shove small children up chimneys. Oh well, it keeps them out of mischief.
The Doctor's nervous breakdown in part three's cliffhanger -
"It's so unfair. I could have been travelling with the Brigadier, going on a rampage of the court of Kublai Khan. Or letting Tegan beat up Harry Houdini. And what am I doing? Waiting in line at McDonalds while Evelyn Smythe makes a nuisance of herself at a rundown pet cemetery-cum-takeaway restaurant. TO THINK! I AM REDUCED... TO *THIS*! IT'S NOT FAIR! IT'S NOT FUCKING FAIR!"
Reggie: With a baseball bat, people pay attention!
(He smashes it straight into Numbskull’s crotch.)
Reggie: CASE IN POINT!
Dialogue Triumphs -
Evelyn: I know enough to know that you murder, cheat and exploit the world for your own ends! Damn you, pokie machines! DAMN YOU!
Doctor: I feel I should warn you – the taser I hold in my right hand directly above your spinal column is fully charged and lethal!
Numbskull: Bit over-expositional, aren’t you old chap?
(The Doctor twists Numbskull around and electrocutes his happy sack.)
Doctor: Judge Norton there
Glaring at him
Glaring at him
Glaring at him
Judge Norton there
Glaring at him
Glaring at him
Glaring at him
Evelyn: Are you in pain, Doctor?
Doctor: Yes. Every moment your heart beats I die a little more.
Evelyn: Aw, Johnny, you say the sweetest things. Who are you again?
Doctor: I expected something like the Spanish Inquisition.
(A dramatic chord and three red Cardinals run through the door.)
Doctor: No, I said I DID expect the Spanish Inquisition.
(They leave miserably.)
Numbskull: Fishing you out of the river in front of the Tower of London is getting to be a habit of mine.
Doctor: Deal with it.
(He tasers Numbskull in the family jewels. Numbskull falls into the Thames. The Doctor switches on the taser and jabs it into the water. Numbskull screams again.)
Doctor: 'Private. Do not enter.' Oh dear, perhaps I should tell them that's ancient Gallifreyan for 'Doctor come on in, have a snoop around, my casa is your casa, have anything you want from the fridge, you want money, I give you money, you’re a freaking God, dude.'
Doctor: Yeah, but ancient Gallifreyan is one fucked up language.
Numbskull: Ah-hah! My new posing pouch of bonded polycarbide armor will protect me against any and all hazards.
(Evelyn jabs him in the balls with a tazer.)
Numbskull: [sobs] Back to the drawing board.
Doctor: If I were being melodramatic, I would call it a 'blood-soaked dawn for the human race', otherwise it's just a syringe. Nah, stuff it, it's a blood-soaked dawn for the human race.
Numbskull: That's another fine mess I've got my testicles into!
(Cassie jabs his genitals with the taser.)
Cassie, on the Doctor's outfit:
"Where has all the finesse gone in the universe? I'M GOING TO BE SICK!"
Doctor: Who are you?
Numbskull: The future!
(The Doctor zaps him in the bollocks.)
Numbskull: [in a squeaky voice] Oooh. Why do people keep doing this?
Doctor: No idea.
(He zaps him again.)
Viewer Quotes -
"More fucking vampires." – Christopher Lee (2007)
"I love the Doctor Who formula, a ship that can take you to any time, any place, it has the ability to tell a endless number of stories in countless locations. But I especially love it when the formula SURPRISES me by touching on a subject or location that the viewer/listener hasn't seen before. As you can imagine, therefore, this story sucked with the power of a miniature black hole. On paper it sounds embarrassing, a clown and an old woman take on vampires at a South London restaurant. Why? CAUSE IT *IS* EMBARRASSING! IT'S TOTAL RUBBISH! You know why Angel is set in Los Angeles and not Sarf Landun? The answer is hidden in the question. Why are there so many characters named Numbskull in Doctor Who? Is "Numbskull" the new Tarrant?"
- Nigel Verkoff (2000)
"You really feel this could happen – which is a nice contrast to a lot of Doctor Who. It is also more horrifically real than any of the audio adventures thus far. It is extremely gory in places, just to warn the faint-hearted, but always in keeping with the nature of the story. But then the restaurant business is the DEFINITION of cutthroat. Offaly Good. Did I mention I'm an intellectual?"
- Adrian Mole (2001)
"God damn it, it is pronounced 'VAM-PIRE!'" – Dorian Grey (1930)
"After all the fan stuff I've done with Timebase Productions, Big Finish are employing me to play the Doctor! FOR REAL! I FRICKEN ROCK!"
- Rupert Booth (before discover the Doctor he would be playing was a Nazi Goth scientist who died in the first scene with no dialogue)
Psychotic Nostalgia -
"The evil you teach, I will execute – and better the instruction. Or, to put it another way: Hey, kid, you wanna find out if there's an afterlife?"
Colin Baker Speaks!
"In the context of Doctor Who, Project Nightlight no more or less horrific than many of the other monster stories. It's just that the horror genre in Britain is traditionally Dracula or Frankenstein, or permutations thereof, with the odd John Inman thrown in – all of which have appeared in Doctor Who. I mean, was Atari of the Cybermen a horror genre story? I would argue not. In fact, I would argue it wasn't a story at all, but some drug-induced collective nightmare. It's just that vwam-pihres pre-exist in another literary culture. Where they don't run raw meat takeaways.
However, I did do an unreleased horror film called The Asexual about two years ago, a psychological horror film with knives and lunatics and complimentary fortune cookies... I was overwhelmed with joy at being hacked to pieces. I've always, ALWAYS wanted to play that, but the wife never really understands and thinks it's a bit kinky."
Maggie Stables Speaks!
"It's certainly my first-ever vampire story. At least the first I can remember. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. When I read it I was a bit taken aback because I thought it was a pamphlet about the dangers of power lines. And for a pamphlet about the dangers of power lines, it was very violent."
Rumors & Facts -
Are Big Finish on to a winner with their Sixth Doctor audios? The answer is "Leave me alone you freak, I don't do questionnaires!"
The Doctor and Evelyn are becoming one of the most famous Doctor/Companion teams in the history of Doctor Who. They have a rapport rarely seen between the Time Lord and his helper – genuine absence of any interest, affection or even hatred for one another, which makes a change I suppose. If you give a shit about the Colin Baker era on TV and let's be honest, who cares?
The Sixth Doctor has developed far beyond his TV portrayal. He has definitely softened, there is less brashness and irascibility, or caring. Or heroics. Or even interest in anything beyond fast food. Still, when the alternative is some boring take on the vampire myth with trendy gangster wars over Thames restaurants, who can blame him?
Cavan Scott and Mark Wright met in 1999 after acting as hired goons for Doctor Who magazine. Too lazy to write separately, they teamed together and got drunk, ate curries and talked vaguely about writing some novel for BBC book entitled "Individually Rubbish At Getting Things Finished" starring the Eighth Doctor, Fitz and an iguana.
However, electroshock therapy helped them overcome this lethargy and soon they had written an entirely new BBC book called The Fandom of Darkness, which was disturbingly similar to Steve Lyon's The Fans of Vulcan, so they pitched ideas about vampire stories to Gay Russell.
So many people had come up with so many different plots for vampires over the years, but no one had come up with a plot of vampires running competing takeaway shops while the Doctor and Evelyn steadfastly refused to join this plot. No one had tried that before, and perhaps for good reason.
The original idea was for fast food retailers in Los Vegas to be run by the undead fiends, but Gay Russell preferred to set it on the banks of the Thames, with the Seventh Doctor sending Ace to get a job at a Soho casino for no adequately-explored reason while he supplied all the vampires with garlic sandwiches which both wrecked their social standing with bad breath but also caused them to implode in gore.
Gay Russell then decided on the toss of a coin to make the story one for the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn Smythe, suggesting a story would have a massive psychological impact on his hithertoo ignored soft, avuncular and above all ravenous nature.
Luckily, the duo already had an Ultraviolet fan fic on hand which – after replacing the characters of Susannah Harker and Jack Davenport with the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn respectively – turned out just what was required.
The story, Butt Monkey, featured numerous battery farms of humans whose blood would be used as protection money for the British government, a vampire cat that drank blood from a saucer, and a Japanese exchange student called Kim who was forced to become a stripper to make ends meet in Britain. The cast and crew were extremely enthusiastic on that last point.
Almost as unenthusiastic was the discovery that Numbskull would be revealed to be Trashkan, a rogue Time Lord villain from Nicholas Briggs' Oddly Visual series. The drug-addicted Trashkan was a cheap Bastard substitute that mainly foiled the Nick Briggs Doctor by spiking the punch and then calling the narcotics squad in.
Scott and Wright had thought using the character would guarantee them a job at Big Finish – little realizing the disgust and contempt the company held for Briggs and his ideas in general. Indeed, upon suggesting Trashkan as a time-travelling vampire slayer, Russell had them thrown out of the building.
Finally they talked their way back into work by redrafting Project: Twiglet as the same story but Numbskull as an incompetent fool that regularly had his groin electrified. They also added exploding bodies, a lake of gore that hunted down its victims, and at the last minute wrote into the plot an explanation for Jim Mortimore accidentally crashing his car through the wall of the recording studio.
So impressed by the stomach-turning ideas, Russell send the outline to Mary Whitehouse in the hope it would cause the bitch to spontaneously combust like most of the main cast.
Cavan Scott & Mark Wright decided their story would ideally be the grittiest Doctor Who story in any medium. Gritty? GRITTY? This is fluffy-cheeked romping compared to Mick Lewis, Eric Saward or even, god help us, Chris Chin-balls!!
A major criticism was that publicity revealed Project: Nightlight featured vampires a full six months before the story was released, so every single listener knew exactly what the mysterious blood sucking monsters were, but the Doctor himself appeared totally clueless.
The authors defended this as
a) fandom being a fickle bunch of wank stains that would have ignored it if Dustbins, Cybermen or the Bastard were involved
b) the Doctor finds out about the vampires rapidly quickly. He just doesn't give a monkeys. A bit like the authors when it comes to barely-sentient fan opinion.
The open-ended conclusion was not, as fans often claimed, a deliberate attempt to set up future stories involving vampires, suspicious anti-UNIT organizations or dodgy restaurant plots. It was just the authors being too damn lazy to come up with a proper conclusion.
Probably what is most notable is the fact that Project: Nightlight was the first and last Big Finish story where the unresolved ending caused a reaction of "Cool! A sequel and ongoing plot!" rather than "You gotta be kidding me – I need to buy another one to finish the damn story, it was crap to start with!"