Before Totter’s Yard, before Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, before the Chameleon Circuit was broken… the Doctor and Susan travelled alone.


The planet Quinnis in the Fourth Universe appears to be an agreeable, exotic refuge for the two travellers. But thE world is SUFFERING a terrible drought, and the Doctor SOON becomes its unwilling rainmaker.


Meanwhile, Susan makes an ally in a young girl called Meedla. But friends are not always what they appear, and the long-awaited rain isn’t necessarily good news…

















The prospect of any adventure set before the very first episode of Doctor Who is one that instantly captures the imagination of any fan, particularly when that adventure is produced by Big Finish; performed by a member of the original cast; and written by the man who wrote our earliest glimpses into the Doctor’s life in his seminal novel Lungbarrow. The brief for Quinnis may have been far more restrictive than that for the seventh Doctor’s final New Adventure, but that didn’t prevent Marc Platt extrapolating a similarly stimulating story from just one throwaway line in the early serial The Edge of Destruction.


Like most good prequels, Quinnis concentrates more on hows and whys than it does flash gimmicks. Whilst the story does boast a TARDIS equipped with a fully-functional chameleon circuit and segues beautifully into the Doctor and Susan’s visit to 1960s Earth, Platt doesn’t waste any words having the Doctor and Susan choose their names, or by pondering Susan’s questionable lineage – he just tells a cracking story that is principally about its narrator, and the events that led to her being frog-marched into Coal Hill School by her irate guardian.


Once again Carole Ann Ford does a brilliant job of recreating Susan as she was back in the day; something that stands out more than ever in Quinnis, given its strong links to Relative Dimensions, which sees her play a much older, maternal version of the same character. It’s particularly interesting to explore the dynamic between the Doctor and Susan without Ian and Barbara encroaching, particularly as the plot pivots on the young woman’s lack of direction and the choices that she makes as a result. Rather interestingly, Susan is being led astray here by Ford’s real-life daughter, Tara-Louise Kaye, who imbues the part of Meedla with a suitably unearthly (and disarming) ambiguity. At times, her performance eclipses even that of her mother.


© Big Finish Productions 2010. No copyright infringement is intended.


Like many of Platt’s Who works, Quinnis is ablaze with powerful imagery, both literal and figurative. Inspired by one of the author’s many foreign jaunts, the titular Fourth Universe planet was reportedly based on the deserts of Namibia, with just a few touches of Madagascar markets and no doubt several other exotic climes also being thrown in to create a suitably alien vista. The medley ranges from forceful to fantastic here, the author making full use of prose and that it can convey.


My only complaint about Quinnis would be that Platt’s “rainmaker” Doctor is painted a little more softly than I would have expected, given when this story occurs. In fairness, he does become more curmudgeonly as matters progress, and he’s certainly no hero, nevertheless he does have a wider regard for the welfare of the (apparently numerous) universes which doesn’t seem to sit quite right with William Hartnell’s early rock-brandishing portrayal.


Overall though, Quinnis is a riveting little tale that lives up to its promise. Generally speaking, I think that a two-person TARDIS crew is better suited to the Companion Chronicle format than Hartnell’s usually engorged entourage, and I’d love to hear more pre-Unearthly Child adventures, provided that they’re handled with the care that Quinnis has been.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2011


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

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



Susan’s last few lines suggest that the TARDIS’s next stop after Quinnis was Earth in “the summer of 1963”, which would place it between the Telos novellas Frayed and Time and Relative.


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