FOR THE DOCTOR'S
THE PRINCIPLE EVENTS
OF THIS STORY TAKE
PLACE BETWEEN THE TV
AND "THE INVASION OF
BIG FINISH 'COMPANION
CHRONICLES' CD 4.10
RELEASED IN MAY 2010.
in her last moments
of life, LEELA recalls
a forgotten memory:
a time in the TARDIS.
The Doctor is worried
that K9's increasingly
might be dangerous.
He decides to make a
new model, UNAWARE
that the fate of all
three time travellers
has long since been
As Leela recalls the
between K9's ‘illness’,
the Z'nai and the
haunted sea fort
in which the TARDIS
lands, she prepares
for her final journey:
into the land of her
The Time Vampire
The concluding part of Nigel Fairs’ trilogy of Leela / Z’nai Companion Chronicles, The Time Vampire, is a scorching and oblique affair; a real departure from the relatively straightforward and traditional brace of adventures that preceded it. Over the course of its seventy-three minutes, this two-parter confounded me, aggravated me, and in the end even moved me.
Although it’s promoted as being a two-hander between Louise Jameson (Leela) and John Leeson (K-9), The Time Vampire feels like it has the benefit four actors rather than just two. Leeson (who’s lovingly billed as “the voice of K-9” in certain places, even though this is an exclusively aural adventure) puts on a peculiar foreign accent to voice Gustav Holland, who enjoys quite a meaty role in the proceedings, and Jameson pulls off a practised Belfast burr to lend voice to the orange-haired woman. As a result, great swathes of the production have a discernibly energetic, ‘audio drama’ feel to them, despite the necessary narration. Fused with Emma Grays’s soprano soundtrack, and Fairs’ incisive direction and suitably stirring sound design, this makes for one of the range’s most distinctive sounding productions to date.
“If I’m out there and down here at the same time, it’s just possible I might be the cause of the temporal flux. I meet myself - I mean have already, briefly, in the past when we were
in the desert, remember? Maybe it hasn’t happened yet... not to you, in any case. And anyway, I’m not sure that would have been enough, with the two of me in flux, but if I was...”
Fairs’ story itself is incredibly intricate. Not only does it mesh the trilogy’s framing sequence with the television series’ continuity in a way that I don’t think anyone could have expected, but it also attempts to tale a proposterously ambitious tale to boot – a tale of two Doctors, a Z’nai city in space, a burning planet, a robotic dog turned murderously heel and an ancient creature borne out of time’s apparently resultant weak spot. And to the writer’s credit, the narrative comes together not just faultlessly but beautifully too, though along the way it really tested my stamina. There’s just so much to this story that one can’t enjoy listening to it in the usual sense; it’s more of a tribulation than a treat.
However, The Time Vampire does reward long-standing fans of the series with a deluge of what Craig Hinton would have called ‘fanwank.’ The nub of
the narrative stems from a comment made by third Doctor in The Mind of
Evil (about having helplessly watched a whole planet burn), and a number
of important plot points hang on similarly fan-pleasing revelations, such as
why the Doctor decided to conveniently construct K-9 Mark II prior to The
Invasion of Time, and what dangerous space / time confluence close to
the “temporal weak spot” caused the birth of the titular Time Vampire (very
Father’s Day). We’re even treated to dramatic images of Leela wandering
into the fire-scorched and forsaken gothic TARDIS console room, which
Fairs torched in Empathy Games, not to mention a charming, reversible
CD cover (à la The Lost Stories) emblazoned with the apposite, Season
15 diamond logo and corresponding font. It’s good to see that Big Finish
keep on listening to their consumers.
The final flourish is a thing of agonising splendour. It manages
to be haunting and ethereal, yet still possess real substance.
I doubt I’m alone in thinking that it makes for a far more fitting and thoughtful end to Leela’s story than The Invasion of Time ever did. If it is the end, that is… On the whole then, this one is a real headache. But at least it’s a spectacular one.
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 states that it takes place “at various times” between The Face of Evil and The Invasion of Time, which indeed it does. The preponderance of events, however, appear to take place late in Season 15.
Indeed, they must be set some considerable time after The Invisible Enemy, as K-9 is portrayed as being a well-established member of the TARDIS crew in them. Given this, together with K-9’s illness and the reasons behind the Doctor’s construction of K-9 Mark II, we have placed the principal events of this story just prior to The Invasion of Time.
The bookending scenes follow those of The Catalyst and Empathy Games.
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