THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
BIG FINISH AUDIO
CONSPIRACY" AND "THE
SIRENS OF TIME."
FOR FEAR OF LITTLE MEN
BIG FINISH CD#9
RELEASED IN JUNE 2000.
THE DOCTOR AND EVELYN
arrive in Cornwall
and encounter a very
special old friend,
out with a local
has another agenda
which has been laid
down by his old
very ancient and very
evil is gathering up
its power in and
around Lanyon Moor
and before long the
that not only does
everyone in the
secrets, some of those
secrets could lead to
the destruction of the
of Lanyon moor
Ask any Big Finish listener and they will tell you that “The Spectre of Lanyon Moor” is a
good, solid, traditional Doctor Who adventure with one hell of a gimmick – the first meeting between the sixth Doctor and Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, as played by Colin Baker and Nicholas Courtney... unless you count "Dimensions In Time", that is.
Baker is superb once again here; these last two Big Finish audio dramas really have given him the chance to prove just how damn good he is. He would have stolen the show yet again were it not for the efforts of Courtney, who sounds like he never left the role... although I suppose he has not. He has been associated with the character of the Brigadier for so long that he practically is the Brigadier.
"To judge by the clothes, the unexpected arrival, and the manner of your greeting,
I can only conclude that I know exactly who you are."
Incidentally, all the fuss about this story supposedly contradicting Gary Russell’s novel for BBC Books, “Business Unusual”, seems a bit ill considered. Whilst things are certainly confusing at a first glance, it has to be borne in mind that for the Brigadier, “Business Unusual” takes place in 1989, some years prior to the events of this play, but for the Doctor, “The Spectre of Lanyon Moor” comes first. As such some playful but nonetheless carefully chosen words between the two old friends is only to be expected.
The story itself reminded me of those early gothic horror Tom Baker stories; in fact, the plot mirrors “Terror of the Zygons” in many ways, particularly as regards likely lad James
Bolam’s character. Nicholas Pegg has certainly achieved exactly what he wanted to with his story – finally bring Baker and Courtney together in “…that rural English fantasia of inns, mansions and gothic mystery which has long been a Doctor Who staple…”
Evelyn is perhaps the only ingredient in the story lacking a distinctly traditional flavour.
Rather than the customary attractive young screaming woman in a skirt we have a middle-aged adventuress, someone as keen on poking her nose into other people’s affairs as the Doctor is! However, here I found her less compelling than I did in “The Marian Conspiracy,”
probably because this story is not based so much around her character. I also think that it may have been a better move for Big Finish to have taken the Doctor and Evelyn off into the far future or to some alien world for their second adventure together. After all, the contemporary Cornish coast - beautiful as it may be - is not that exotic a sojourn for the new companion!
All in all though, I found “The Spectre of Lanyon Moor” to be a good little story. It is nothing mind-blowingly good, amazingly different, or even shockingly controversial - it is just average Doctor Who with one hell of a gimmick.
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.
When is now? In keeping with the UNIT dating controversy, it is unclear when exactly The Spectre of Lanyon Moor is set. As Evelyn telephones an academic friend of hers, then it must be at least Evelyn’s present – i.e. 2000 – as she isn’t so stupid as to contaminate her own timeline by interfering in her past or future (nor would the Doctor countenance her doing so). This being the case, then from the sixth Doctor’s point of view, this is his first meeting with his old friend Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. Of course, from the former Brigadier’s point of view, he has encountered the Doctor’s sixth incarnation at least twice previously, latterly in 1989, as depicted in the novel Business Unusual, and he would encounter him again in 2001 in the novel The Shadow in the Glass. From the mid-1980s onwards, the poor Brigadier would encounter a medley of Doctors out of sequence.
Nevertheless, some have inferred from the archaeologists’ struggling with their “new-fangled” computers and the Brigadier’s use of certain words (“yomp”, for instance) that Spectre actually takes place in the 1980s. At
a first glance this appears to be supported by a colour illustration showing a 1980s Brigadier. However, many people today (and indeed in 2000) still struggle with “new-fangled” technology, and old soldiers are notoriously steadfast in their lexical choices. Furthermore, the image of the Brigadier used in the (heavily stylised) cover illustration doesn’t look all that much younger than the one we met in Battlefield (circa 1995) - he’s just had
a shave! Hence the Brigadier as depicted on the cover here is only, at worst, around five years more youthful than he should be. Perhaps he moisturises.
Thanks to Chris McKeon (for playing Devil’s advocate!)
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