(ISBN 1-84435-174-2)




 2197. The fighter-

 carrier Valiant has

 just crossed Pluto's

 orbital path. Its

 captain is expecting

 trouble from alien

 raiders. She is not 

 expecting the Doctor

 and Evelyn.


 She does not believe

 members of her crew

 when they say they

 can hear an ancient

 bell ringing. A bell

 that strikes terror

 into their hearts.


 1952. The Turret Class

 locomotive Ivy Lee is

 hurtling through the

 night. On board, there

 should only be two

 passengers: both of

 them carrying

 documents from the

 War Office.


 But now, there are

 also two unexpected

 visitors on the train.

 One is the guard with

 ill-fitting trousers,

 the other is an

 excessively dotty old



 The Doctor and Evelyn

 have arrived and

 'Time's End' is



 PREVIOUS                                                                                  NEXT


The Nowhere Place

JULY 2006







You have to give Big Finish their due – for nearly seven years they have produced brilliant Doctor Who audio plays. Okay, there may be the inevitable clanger every once in a while,

but arguably on the whole their output has been consistently better than the classic television series ever was. I have to say though, I did worry when I saw the blurbs for the 2006 releases – unlike usual, there were not any that made me go “oh wow, I can’t wait for that one!” Ironically though, I have really enjoyed every single release so far this year. Whilst none of them (except “The Kingmaker”) have been mind-blowingly amazing, they have all been great Doctor Who stories.


“The Nowhere Place” is no exception.


Nicholas Briggs will go down in history, whether he likes it or not, as the voice of the Daleks and the Cybermen in the new series of Doctor Who. Of course, listeners of Big Finish productions know that he may be a brilliant monster-voice-artist, but he is also a hell of a lot more. He is the monster man! Dalek Empire… Cyberman… they are both his babies; written, directed, performed. Again here, Briggs writes, directs and stars in the play - he is almost a one-man-band! I am always intrigued when a play like “Embrace the Darkness”; “Creatures of Beauty”; or indeed “The Nowhere Place” comes along because the chances are that if Briggs is involved and the ‘big two’ baddies are not, then the chances are we are going to get something a bit different. Take “Embrace the Darkness” for instance – an innovative audio play set in near total darkness. “Creatures of Beauty” – a narrative cut and pasted all over the place. Imagine my surprise then, when “The Nowhere Place” turned out to be quite, umm… normal. Or at least, as 'normal' as Doctor Who ever gets.


With “The Nowhere Place,” what you have is a traditional ghost story… in space, and also a futuristic sci-fi thriller… on a Turret-class locomotive in 1952. Basically, the Doctor and Evelyn land on the starship Valiant in 2197, where the crew have taken to hearing a strange bell, going slightly mad and then walking through a mysterious door into nowhere. The first two episodes have a distinct creepiness about them; I think it is something about the juxtaposition of a 1952 train bell and a futuristic starship. That and this strange door. Apparently, Rob Shearman come up with the idea of an everyday, conventional door

existing on the hull of a starship, luring people to their deaths. It should not exist… It could not exist… but it does, and it even frightens the Doctor!



However, the first two episodes set on the Valiant would not be anywhere near as good as they are without Captain Oswin, brought to life wonderfully by Martha Cope. The character is so real – too real, even. She is stressed out, snappy, nasty, sarcastic, and vicious! Listening to the play though, you can see exactly why – anyone would be doing her job! It is also quite amusing to listen to her lauding it over the Doctor. Usually he acts like he is in complete control even when he is the prisoner of some megalomaniac, but here it is hilarious to hear him squirm as Oswin verbally tears him to shreds. Not many can claim to have spoken to the sixth Doctor in that way; she treats both him and Evelyn like naughty children!


“Can’t have old ladies wandering around on our train, can we?

I mean, she might be a Russian spy. Didn’t look Russian, though, did she?

Probably the lack of fur hat. Cunning disguise, eh?

No fur hat. Ingenious. What will the KGB think up next?”


On reflection though, I think I enjoyed the third episode the most. As much as I enjoyed the 2197 episodes, the episode set in 1952 on the train has a different tone. It is lighter, even quite funny at times. On paper I would have thought that the episode on the train would have been the spookiest, but it is quite the other way round. The Doctor’s broad accent as he pretends to be a Ticket Inspector (and then a Police Inspector!) is a delight to listen to – at first I did not even realise it was actually Colin Baker, I thought the Ticket Inspector was a new character! The third episode also brings in the enigmatic Mr Palmer (John Killoran) and the likeable Trevor Ridgeley (played by the man himself) who are another delightful pair of characters to listen to. My only complaint with it is that the episode does not really drive the plot forward by any great measure – at the end of it, Evelyn and the Doctor have to go back to the future where the situation is exactly the same as it was when they left. Still, if it is entertaining enough I can forgive a slight weakness in the story.


The ultimate ending is very clever indeed - just as you would expect from Mr “Creatures of Beauty” – but I did think it was a bit too epic; a bit too sweeping, if that makes sense. At the end of the final episode, the stakes are unimaginably high and we learn some terrible truths about Earth and humanity which come as quite a shock. Lucky these truths are not true because they never happened as it turns out, so there so you go! It is 'one of them ones…'


Colin Baker and Maggie Stables are superb together once again, and I only hope that they can now go off on another good run like they did back in 2000/01, before things seemed to dry up for them a bit. Incidentally, “The Nowhere Place” is the first release in a couple of years to have more than one cover illustration. I have used a lot of Simon Holub’s covers for a sizeable chunk of my Doctor Who collection, and so I was a bit gutted that, thanks to that scientific method known as ‘pot luck’, I received my CD with the William Cox design



Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006


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