THE EVENTS OF THIS
story take place
BETWEEN THE STORY
TOLD BY THE BRIGADIER
IN PARTS 5 TO 8 OF THE
BIG FINISH AUDIO "THE
AND THE TV STORY
"THE TIME WARRIOR."
CAVAN SCOTT &
BIG FINISH 'COMPANION
CHRONICLES' CD 4.03
RELEASED IN SEPTEMBER
The planet Peladon
has joined the GREAT
and has undergone
a painful period of
change. Still eager
to embrace alien
culture, King Peladon
has welcomed refugee
Ice Warriors to his
world fleeing the New
But there is murder
in the refugee camps.
Could the truth lie in
an ancient legend?
“Companion Chronicle”? More like an “Acquaintance Adventure”!
As Big Finish’s series of multi-voice audio books has progressed, its remit has, somewhat inevitably, become much wider. The Mahogany Murderers was a bald-faced pilot for the forthcoming Jago & Litefoot series; a completely Doctor-less tale featuring two characters who, despite their vast popularity, could not be considered “companions” by the even the
most liberal of fans. And The Prisoner of Peladon goes one step further still, resurrecting
a supporting character whose only prior appearance had been in the 1972 television serial The Curse of Peladon: the King himself.
All the same, one can’t deny that these more experimental efforts are amongst the range’s most alluring. The Mahogany Murderers was an unqualified success, and I get the feeling that The Prisoner of Peladon will be just as big a hit, particularly amongst those who have
a special regard for the Peladon stories.
Cavan Scott and Mark Wright’s script is an appealing blend of classic series staples and new series sensibilities,
suffused throughout with that distin-ctive ‘Peladon’ feel. The two authors’
plot is fuelled by mysterious murders
and Martian refugees, evoking the
political wrangles and the allegory of The Monster of Peladon, whilst at the same recreating the claustrophobia and the intrigue
of Curse. Even the story’s eponymous prisoner is far less straightforward a proposition than it sounds, Pel superstition permeating the very heart of the tale.
What’s more, Nicola Bryant has done an exceptional job at the helm of her first Doctor Who project. I understand that her preparation for directing this story included not only revisiting the two relevant television stories, but also listening to The Curse of Peladon audio book narrated by Jon Pertwee, and researching Ice Warrior ephemera on the internet in a level
of detail that would shame most fans; it certainly did me. And this approach has really paid dividends with the finished product as, with a little help from sound designer Toby Hrycek-Robinson and the rasping Nicholas Briggs, this one positively reeks of Peladon.
“You treat me like a child in my own court, and presume to call me friend!”
And, needless to say, David Troughton makes for a marvellous narrator. Scott and Wright’s story is framed by simple but effective bookends which see an older and wiser King recount this particular encounter with the Doctor to his young daughter, Tharila. This hindsight allows Troughton to invest his performance with a maturity and a wisdom that is far removed from the young King that we first met in The Curse of Peladon; qualities that it seems the events of this adventure helped him to hone. The veteran actor also does wonderful impersonations of Jon Pertwee’s Doctor and in particular the hermaphrodite hexapod, Alpha Centauri. As I generally associate Troughton’s sonorous tones with the likes of the Black Guardian, I was both surprised and convinced by his thoroughly convincing falsetto.
However, I think the most interesting aspect of The Prisoner of Peladon is its portrayal of the Doctor. Set in the largely-unexplored gap between Jo Grant’s departure in The Green Death and Sarah Jane Smith’s coming in The Time Warrior, Scott and Wright are able to present us with a harder, slightly more ruthless version of the UNIT dandy. At one point, King Peladon even pulls him up for revelling in the danger and lauding it over everybody with his dazzling intelligence, without knowing it paraphrasing Donna Noble’s cutting line to the Doctor at the end of The Runaway Bride and reminding us that the Doctor needs somebody; somebody to stop him going too far.
And so whilst it is easy to take a cheap swipe at The Prisoner of Peladon, the companion-less Companion Chronicle, in my view it is at least as deserving of its billing as most titles in the range as it explores the function of the companion; what he or she offers to the Doctor; and just how slippery a slope he is walking when he’s all on his own.
Altogether then, and despite not being the biggest fan of the Peladon stories, I found The Prisoner of Peladon to be a beguiling and even quite thought-provoking affair. This being the case, I shudder to think how popular this one is going to prove with those who have a particular weakness for the two seminal Peladon adventures…
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2010
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 story’s blurb places it between the television stories The Green Death and The Time Warrior. Within this gap, we have placed it after the adventure narrated related by the Brigadier in The Three Companions, which was released earlier.
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