(ISBN 1-84435-319-4)




 In a weird jungle

 valley, the Victorian

 explorer Rupert Von

 Thal saves

 Bloomsbury novelist

 Beatrice Mapp from a

 ghastly death in the

 grip of a monstrous

 mantis. But this is no

 Lost World of the

 dinosaurs. According

 to their travelling

 companions, the

 Doctor and Nyssa,

 all four have been

 transported back to

 a primitive Earth 

 that should never

 have existed!

 Further down the

 valley is the vast

 city where the

 scorpions live.

 Walking, talking,

 intelligent scorpions,

 ruled over by their

 cruel and sinister

 master. The Doctor

 and Nyssa are being

 drawn ever tighter

 into the clutches of...

 the boy that time



 CONTEMPORANEOUS                                                                   NEXT


The Boy That

Time Forgot

JULY 2008







The Boy That Time Forgot is another one of those trademark Big Finish bombshells. How they managed to keep the identity of this story’s ‘Scorpion King’ under wraps until the date of release I have no idea. Of course, with hindsight, there was only ever one likely contender to be The Boy That Time Forgot. To their credit Big Finish did do their best to disguise his identity by casting “an actor” in the role, as opposed to Matthew Waterhouse (Peter Davison’s cruel joke, not mine), as well as by littering the first episode with a surfeit of red herrings, such as “Madam Teegarna” (Tegan?) and “Kranlee” (Cranleigh?), but even so, as the first episode crept towards its culminating revelation, I’d guessed it. It had to be. Somehow he’d survived the freighter crash…


Paul Magrs said we that wouldn’t believe it, and he was right. Adric’s death was such a defining event in the series’ history that I never believed any writer would dare to undo it. Whilst other companions have died over years, very few have done so on television, and Adric’s demise was by far the most memorable in any event. Even considering the character’s gross unpopularity amongst most fans of the show, his death really left its mark of them. Hell, it traumatised a generation. And yet The Boy That Time Forgot dares to retcon it.


However, what surprised me more than Magrs’ gall was his skill. Somehow, he manages to make the concept work without debasing Earthshock. The tragedy of Adric’s untimely death is suddenly overshadowed by the far greater tragedy of his survival and hideously prolonged life in seclusion. Having watching The Dark Knight recently, the adage “Die a hero, or live long enough to become the villain” was fresh in my mind when listening to this play, and arguably it fits Adric far better than it does Batman. Adric was always on the tightrope - not only was he obnoxious, but in some stories - Four to Doomsday stands out particularly - he would actually go so far as to side with the villain, and it would fall to the Doctor to coax him into ultimately doing the right thing. But after being left for dead and forced to live in a bizarre block transfer computation offshoot from the timeline for century after century with nothing but sentient scorpions for companionship, it was never going to take him long to make the transition from boy genius babyface to heavy heel.


A lot of the credit for Adric’s return working so well is of course down to Andrew Sachs, star of 2003’s Shada webcast and, of course, Fawlty Towers. Sachs may not sound anything like Waterhouse, but after five hundred years, I suppose that’s to be expected. Indeed, rather than trying to mimic Waterhouse’s performance, Sachs creates his own Adric – a perverse and bitter Adric who wants to force Nyssa to marry him and make the Doctor suffer for “abandoning” him. And it’s all there in the voice; wraithlike and ethereal, and quite, quite mad.


Furthermore, The Boy That Time Forgot does a remarkable job of telling a continuity-heavy story in the most madcap of formats – that of a 1970s prehistoric yarn. Sometimes it’s more Carry On than The Land That Time Forgot though – the “services” provided to Adric by his scorpion army don’t really bear thinking about, and as for Rupert Van Thal never having been “taken up the Limpopo” or never having “braved the inhospitable bush”, suffice it to say that in spite of its relatively dark subject matter, The Boy That Time Forgot never feels too grave and is actually downright hilarious at times.


The final episode of the play was my favourite. It’s beautifully written by Magrs and affectingly played by the cast - Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton are both extraordinary here - and to my surprise I found it truly uplifting. What’s more, there is no reset button pressed, which I have to say I was half-dreading. Adric is not returned to the freighter to die. This story has consequences. Pickard even makes an uncredited appearance as Thomas Brewster, the thieving urchin finally returning the Doctor’s TARDIS to him, albeit with a little help from a block transfer spectre. The play’s finale therefore feels like the passing of the torch; we get to say a long overdue goodbye to one companion, whilst at the same time welcoming the next.


Bold, frightening, poignant and, against all the odds, rather funny, The Boy That Time Forgot is a magnificent play in every respect.  Together with The Haunting of Thomas Brewster which immediately preceded it, this play comes heartily recommended.





Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2008

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