After colliding with a meteor in space, the TARDIS is forced to make an emergency landing on Earth. The place is China, 200 BC, during the reign of ITS first emperor, Qin.


When the Doctor is taken away to the imperial city, it’s up to Victoria and Jamie to RESCUE him. Their friend is now Qin'S PRISONER, who intends to extract the Secret of eternal life, so that he may rule the world forever...








The Emperor

of Eternity

MARCH 2010







After forcing him to make do with just one performer in The Stealers from Saiph, this production sees Big Finish more than compensate Nigel Robinson by gifting him not merely two actors, but two companions to play with. Though The Emperor of Eternity is demonstrably Victoria Waterfield’s tale, Deborah Watling’s narration is buoyed throughout by Big Finish’s man of the moment, Frazer Hines.


Consciously written as a purely historical venture, Robinson’s story effectively recreates the feel of the first Doctor’s habitual forays into the past, whilst at the same time preserving the discrete dynamic of the Season 5 TARDIS team. This is furthered considerably by having Hines on board to voice Jamie - indeed, at its best, this production sounds just like a 1967 television soundtrack (suitably remastered, obviously) as Robinson is able to present a significant number of scenes between the two companions as fully-fledged audio drama.


However, though his faux-Scots brogue lends the story an air of authenticity, Hines is under-utilised by the script. Obviously Big Finish won’t have wanted him to tread on Watling’s toes and turn this into a Suffering-style two-hander, and I have no idea how long they had Hines in the studio for (he isn’t interviewed in the CD Extras, tellingly), but even so I think that he should have at least been asked to voice the second Doctor’s dialogue. To let the perfect Pat Troughton impersonator go to waste is an absolute crime.


The narrative is textbook historical Who. Robinson takes our heroes to China in around 200BC, during the reign of its first - apparently tyrannical - emperor, where a cascade of Victoria’s personal blunders and triumphs trigger a chain of events that threaten to alter history. With the Doctor imprisoned and Emperor Qin’s life threatened by an assassin, Victoria and Jamie must try to free their friend and stop a time-shattering assassination…


What sets The Emperor of Eternity apart from stories of a similar ilk is tone. The tale is brutal and gory; far more so than I recall any previous Big Finish Doctor Who release being. For instance, Robinson thinks nothing of littering his script with impromptu beheadings and corpse-strewn fields. This grim, callous feel is then exacerbated by Howard Carter’s tremendously turbulent sound design. Most outdoor scenes here are backed by the sounds of the heavens rumbling in angst, imbuing the whole production with a classical, cinematic feel – no small feat, given that this is an exclusively aural affair.


Yet for all its anguish, Robinson’s words are often laden with levity. Victoria is blessed some with wonderfully wry dialogue such as “The Doctor explained that we weren’t barbarians. Not even Jamie,” and both episodes are littered with similarly quirky frivolities - the Doctor trying to pass off “singularly lumpy rice pudding” as an elixir of life stands out in particular.


Nevertheless, for all its grandeur, The Emperor of Eternity struggled to keep me interested over the course of its sixty-seven minutes. I generally like historicals, but can be a bit fickle depending on the period visited, and at the end of the day I’m just not all that into ancient Chinese swordfights and imperial intrigues. Those who are, however, are really going to love this one.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2010


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Design

 and Patents Act 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.



This story’s blurb places its events between the television serials The Web of Fear and Fury from the Deep. Within this gap, we have placed them after those of the audio book The Great Space Elevator, which was released earlier.


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