THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
BIG FINISH AUDIOS
"PERI AND THE PISCON
PARADOX" AND "THE
SPECTRE OF LANYON
THE MARYAN CONSPIRACY
BIG FINISH CD#6
RELEASED IN MARCH
TRACKING A NEXUS
point in time, the
Doctor meets Dr
Evelyn Smythe, a
whose own history
seems to be rapidly
The Doctor must
travel back to Tudor
times to stabilise the
nexus and save
Evelyn's life. But
there he meets the
Queen of England and
must use all his
skills of diplomacy
to avoid ending up on
the headman's block...
The Marian Conspiracy
“The Marian Conspiracy” is an incredibly brave story that works exceedingly well. It is the
first purely historical Doctor Who serial produced since “Black Orchid” back in 1982, though that particular fact is quite misleading as "Black Orchid" was the first pure historical for
about fifteen years. In truth, the pure historical is a format that has been seldom used since the days of William Hartnell.
This serial is also the first story to feature Maggie Stables as Evelyn Smythe, a middle-aged University lecturer who - in a complete break with the Doctor Who tradition of the Doctor travelling with 'something for Dads' - appears to have become the Doctor’s latest companion. 'Something for the Grandads' perhaps…?
The beauty of it is that on audio it does not matter what Evelyn; Peri; Mel; or anybody else
for that matter looks like. It is all about character; all about the story. Maggie Stables brings so much to the table with her portrayal of Evelyn that she comes as a complete breath of fresh air. She is characterised wonderfully by Rayner’s script, perfectly evoking the image of the well-liked, slightly kooky lecturer, right down to her chocolate cakes and fear of IT!
Furthermore, the story caters to Evelyn's introduction perfectly – the nexus point in history that the Doctor is tracking is on the verge of erasing Evelyn’s family from history, and so he takes her back to Tudor Times (where the first of Evelyn’s ancestors appears to have vanished from history) to try and stabilise the nexus, though their efforts lead to them becoming embroiled in a conspiracy to put Elizabeth on the throne.
The story is not without its flaws though. Being a professor of History, naturally Evelyn loves every second that she spends exploring the past but she does not seem at all bothered or surprised by the notion of time travel. Moreover, certain reveals towards the end of the play are so mind-bendingly obvious that the play’s ending feels quite anti-climatic.
However, Big Finish somehow succeed in making Tudor Times come alive through the audio medium, from the Ale Houses to the Tower all the way up to Queen Mary’s Court.
“The Marian Conspiracy” is a welcome respite from aliens and monsters, and is probably the closest that we will ever get to a good old-fashioned William Hartnell historical outside the 1960s.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This play’s blurb suggests that it takes place between the television stories The Trial of a Time Lord and
Time and the Rani, and its production code suggests a placement shortly after Her Final Flight.
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