Time Walkers have descended upon the Earth. ThIS SPECIES, known as The Vist, haS claimed an area of time for itself – any species entering into the immediate future will pay the most terrible forfeit.


The human race is in a state of panic, but one woman knows the tRutH, BECAUSE SHE'S VISITED THAT FUTURE WITH THE DOCTOR, BEN AND JAMIE.


HER NAME IS POLLY AND She has stepped into the Forbidden Time.


this is her story…








The Forbidden Time

MARCH 2011







I’m usually familiar with Doctor Who writers and what they’ve done before. David Lock, however, is more of a mystery to me than the eponymous Time Lord. Is he the former Labour politician and esteemed QC, who for decades has been harbouring covert literary ambitions? Or is he the commended cartoon humorist, who’s now channelled his witty pictorial imaginings into horrifying prose? Perhaps he’s the lighting technician with a number of Doctor Who episodes on his CV? Or is he none of the above? Eighty minutes on and I’m none the wiser, but what I do know is that, if The Forbidden Time is anything to go by, the man’s a storytelling genius.


The sheer quantity of new Doctor Who stories available each month is absolutely staggering at present, and as a result it’s never been harder to come up with a tale that stands out from the pack, but not so far as to stray from the sensibilities that make a Who story a Who story. The Forbidden Time is one of few releases that manages to feel completely authentic, but at the same time be fresh and bold with it. Lock’s handle on the Season 4 TARDIS crew is second to none, and in terms of inventiveness his adventure is in a league all of its own.


To begin with, Lock presents one of the most innovative alien antagonists that any of Big Finish’s ranges have seen for a long time: Vist “Time Walkers”. Arresting though it is, Iain Robertson’s cover art doesn’t even begin do these disproportionate monochrome monstrosities justice - The Forbidden Time’s illustrations put the listener in mind of works as sundry as The War of the Worlds and The Empire Strikes Back, whereas the writer’s words summon images of creatures altogether more surreal and sinister. The narration describes the Vist as having bodies the size of greyhounds and legs longer than giraffes, painting a picture that leans more towards creepy-crawly than it does AT-AT. More macabre still, the Vist’s defining physical characteristic is a wilting, wrinkled head; an unconscionably chilling feature reminiscent of Gerald Scarfe’s peerless artwork for Pink Floyd’s Wall.


And the Vist’s nightmarish qualities aren’t limited to their idiosyncratic appearance - they’re also borne of their unique relationship with time. Whereas most creatures exist in space, and are reliant upon technology to travel in time any way other than forwards at the standard rate, the Vist are natives of time. A footstep forth for the Vist might be a hundred years hence; ten steps back might be the Battle of Hastings. These Time Walkers are the spiders of the web of time, scuttling back and forth across it without regard for its rules or the limitations of linear species, and herein lurks the plot.


© Big Finish Productions 2011. No copyright infringement is intended.


The Forbidden Time concerns the construction of a Vist “wall” around the years 2011 to 2019. The Time Walkers have claimed these eight years as their private temporal dominion, and any who dare to intrude will pay the most terrible forfeit. The trouble is, most linear species can’t stop and turn back as they approach this “forbidden time” – it’s out of their control. And so as the Vist’s warning resounds across the planet Earth, humanity is seized by a panic that can only be put paid to by a woman who has already trespassed in the forbidden time, and lived to tell the tale…


The venture is narrated by Anneke Wills, who voices not only her character of Polly, but the vast majority of the story’s supporting characters too. As was the case with Resistance and The Three Companions, here Wills’ Polly doesn’t sound a day older than she did when she left us in The Faceless Ones, but this time around she is also able to call upon the talents exhibited in The Sandman, vesting the Vist with ferocious, modulated tones worthy of the Galyari.


However, thanks to the curious device of Polly’s dictaphone recordings, Frazer Hines is also able to chime in every now and then as Jamie McCrimmon, making this Wills and Hines’ first performance together in almost forty-five years. Sadly Hines’ contributions to the production are no more substantial than they were in The Emperor of Eternity, in which Jamie played second-fiddle to Deborah Watling’s Victoria, but then The Forbidden Time is, very much, Polly’s story. Jamie is in it simply to add a little genuine flavour – a mandate that he meets with consummate ease.


It’s also to this production’s credit that it feels as if the Doctor and Ben are present too, even though Patrick Troughton and Michael Craze have long-since departed. Wills’ female larynx may not be up to reproducing her former co-stars’ voices flawlessly, but she is at least able to capture the spirits of both, particularly her shielding sailor, to whom Lock’s script is kind. Though he is sidelined for almost the entire second episode, Lock still expands on what we know about Ben by giving him an almost-comical love of cars that dates from his native era all the way up to the 22nd century’s Dalek invasion of Earth. It’s a lovely conceit that adds to the aroma of the piece, making it feel like a bona fide television serial instead of something shoe-horned in between.


Overall, I couldn’t have been any more impressed than I was with The Forbidden Time. I put the CD in the player expecting a fairly formulaic filler from an unknown element, and instead found myself rapt in the most extraordinary and unsettling Companion Chronicle released to date. Whoever this David Lock is, I can only hope that Big Finish deign to bring him back. And soon.


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.



This story’s blurb places its events between the television serials The Macra Terror and The Faceless Ones. Within this gap, we have placed them after the Big Finish audio book The Three Companions: Polly’s Story, which it was released after.


According to Polly, who is narrating the events of this adventure from 2011, the last time she heard from Ben he was running a public house. This is at odds with the fate suggested by The Sarah Jane Adventures story The Death of the Doctor, apparently set in the same year, in which Sarah Jane implied that Ben and Polly were running an orphanage together. Presumably since Sarah’s googling, Ben tired of his benevolence and opened a boozer. That, or the inference most of us drew from Sarah Jane’s implication was well wide of the mark.


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