A relaxing break for the Doctor and his companions becomes something decidedly more sinister when they are arrested for trespass.


But what's happened to the planet Earth? And how has the VILE Chairman Babs gained control?


WHILE the Doctor and Jamie are incarcerated in a prison that they can never escape from, Zoe is forced to change sides…







Prison in Space








Having enjoyed November’s inaugural Lost Stories box set far more than I’d expected to, I really had high hopes for the second. Generally speaking I much prefer the second Doctor’s era to the first’s, and like just about every fan out there, the prospect of hearing the infamously abandoned American Dalek pilot was an exciting one, to say the least.


To look at, the box set is every bit as lavish as the first. Alex Mallinson’s arresting artwork is redolent of the annuals of the period, and there’s plenty of it to appreciate. Unlike most Big Finish releases, here each individual disc is gifted its own jewel case and reversible cover. Some might say this is an improvident approach, but I certainly appreciate the indulgence - it’s touches like these that set a box set apart. Three of the four discs are resplendent in purple and white with retro typography, with the incongruous Dalek disc their perfect counterpoint, its art in violent green and black, and - of course - its lettering in that inimitable font.




Whilst both of the box set’s stories hail from the time of Patrick Troughton’s tenure, it is only its first that truly lives up to its “second Doctor” billing. Prison in Space was originally written for Season 6, before being shelved in favour of Robert Holmes’ first Doctor Who script, The Krotons. The four-part serial was always intended to be a light-hearted piece, but when Dick Sharples’ scripts arrived it was feared that, as they were so overtly comical, the notoriously playful cast would just send-up them up. This is a great pity, as the very quality that made the second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe stand out from other TARDIS crews was their unparalleled sense of fun. Had Prison in Space been made, I dare say it would have been something of a fan favourite.


This adaptation came about when Frazer Hines stumbled across what was left of his copy of the script in his garage. Reading it again – particularly certain scenes - he recalled his disappointment when the television production fell through, and quickly made a call to Big Finish. Doctor Who Magazine’s Richard Bignell then helped producer David Richardson to track down both the complete script and its author; Simon Guerrier was drafted in to handle the audio reworking; and before they knew it, Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury were stood in the studio resurrecting Jamie and Zoe as if a single day hadn’t passed, never mind over forty years.


The production stands out from the Companion Chronicles that we’ve become used to as here Hines and Padbury serve as traditional narrators as well as playing their characters, as opposed to playing their characters telling a story. This was also true of the recent brace of first Doctor Lost Stories, of course, but here it is more apparent as Hines’ RP is so markedly different to his cod-Scotch. This is certainly no bad thing though - it actually lends the piece a lot of aural diversity. As those who’ve listened to any of Hines’ Companion Chronicles know, his channelling of Troughton is supernatural, and together he and Padbury are able to invest the serial’s numerous characters with a wide array of distinct voices. They are then supported by regular Big Finish performer and one-time Torchwood star Susan Brown who plays the iniquitous Chairman Babs, furthering the impression that what is being heard is not some staid old audio book, but a television soundtrack that has merely been punctuated with helpful bursts of narration. Indeed, as I listened to these episodes I recalled hearing the BBC Radio Collection’s many Hines-narrated television soundtracks released in the early 2000s. I’m sure that Guerrier didn’t intend for listeners to picture the story playing out before them in freeze-frame telesnaps as they listened along, but that’s how it happened for me, making the experience somehow more authentic.


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


In some ways, Guerrier has done an even better job here than Nigel Robinson did with Farewell, Great Macedon. Sharples’ script is incredibly visual, with much of its humour and spectacle being born of “Harold Lloyd” physical comedy or stunning sights, yet Guerrier makes it feel as if it was designed for this medium, coming up with inspired ploy after inspired ploy to make the transition to sound seamless. One particular sequence stands out in my mind in which Jamie, reading a map upside down, unwittingly follows two disrobing women into a shower room. For several, long seconds we hear nothing at all… and then Jamie eventually emerges from the steamy doorway, goggle-eyed in shock. It must take some gumption to use silence to help tell a story in an audio production, but it certainly pays dividends here.


Sharples’ story itself could be seen as the apotheosis of the ideas previously seen in serials like Galaxy 4 and mooted in pitches such as The Fragile Yellow Arc of Fragrance and The Hidden Planet. Despite what the title suggests, this isn’t “Porridge in space” but a crippling satire about sexual prejudice and women’s suffrage being taken ad absurdum. The future painted by Sharples is one in which men are second class citizens, oppressed by the vile Chairman Babs and her Amazonian lackeys. When the Doctor and his companions speak up against her oppressive regime, the Doctor and Jamie are imprisoned in the chairman’s Outer Space Correction Establishment, and Zoe is “programmed” to join her sisters and turn against her friends. The outcome is wholly predictable, but the journey to it is anything but.


Indeed, it’s hard to call to mind any story from this time that features as many inflammatory incidents as this one does. The Doctor finds himself the subject of the villain’s scorn… and her infatuation too. Zoe sparks a sexual revolution, gets brainwashed, and then finds herself being snapped out of it via Jamie’s “applied psychology” (which, to you and me, involves him putting “a cheeky wee lassie who does’nae know her place” across his knee, and spanking her. For ages.) It’s probably not all that surprising, then, that Prison in Space was re-written and serialised for a prime time sketch show, giving it the unusual distinction of appealing as much to fans of The Two Ronnies as it will to Doctor Who aficionados.


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


Thankfully, Guerrier hasn’t amended the source material too much. Quite rightly, he’s cut the Doctor’s apparent sexism from the script, and quite wrongly, he’s made the female villains’ outfits far less raunchy, but beyond that the departures from Sharples’ original storyline are few and far between. Even Zoe is described as being a native of the year 2000, by which time, of course, we were all living in great wheels in space. How much more retro could you get?


Inevitably, the narration draws out each episode’s running time considerably, but despite this Prison in Space never seems to lack pace. Buoyed by David Darlington’s omnipresent (and delectably apposite) sound design and score, the four episodes feel so fast and furious that they seem to fly by in no time at all, leaving the listener hungering for more arcane treasures from this popular period.


And so Prison in Space is another delightful addition to the Lost Stories range. It’s pace and tone are a clear contrast to the first Doctor’s Lost Stories, keeping things nice and fresh for the audience whilst also neatly obviating any unfavourable comparisons with Moris Farhi’s Macedonian masterpiece. From its performances to its sound design to its careful handling of the original “yellow and fragile” manuscript, this enterprise exudes refinement and class throughout – even when Jamie’s dolling out an enthusiastic spanking.


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.






Prison in Space is one of the more notorious ‘lost stories’ to have surfaced over the years. Rumours arose that the Doctor Who production team were seriously considering making a story set on a planet ruled by women in kinky bondage uniforms; that the Doctor would have been an unwitting lust object for their despotic leader; and that the serial would have culminated - I hesitate to use the word ‘climaxed’ - in a scene with Jamie (or possibly even the Doctor) taking Zoe over his knee and administering a spanking. Surely this was a jest, designed to dupe gullible fans?


Astonishingly, it’s all true, and now, Big Finish have adapted it for audio. It’s impossible to fault Simon Guerrier’s work in adapting the story. He masterfully takes a very visual seeming script and adjusts it to create a very easy to listen to dramatic reading, and tones down the rampant sexism to at least some extent. It’s also impossible to give the three-person cast anything but the strongest praise. Frazer Hines is perfect in his evocation of Pat Troughton’s Doctor, his ongoing renewal of Jamie McCrimmon, and his masterly narration skills. Wendy Padbury fails to evoke her younger self as successfully, her voice having changed over the years, but still manages to put in a spirited performance as Zoe Herriot, both in her regular and possessed guises. Both actors take on numerous supporting character roles, providing the illusion of a rich cast. Susan Brown, the release’s guest star, is wonderful as the utterly villainous Chairman Babs - she’s all throaty haughtiness and spite. She nonetheless illicits some sympathy from the listener, despite her character being painted in the worst possible light. The sound design works together with script and performers to produce an excellent soundscape.


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


But of the many unmade Doctor Who stories to receive such a treatment, why this one? In the sleeve production notes, original author Dick Sharples expresses confusion as to why the project was shelved back in the day. Yet how can anyone listen to this and expect it to have worked on television? It can be looked at in two ways: either as an attempt at satire, or as a broad farce. As the former it fails completely, uncertain whether it is satirising male chauvinism or female emancipation; in either case, it oversimplifies matters to the extreme. As the latter, it just about works; thankfully, the cast play it uniformly straight, the only way to pull off something as ridiculous as this.


As a drawn-out joke, poking fun at the narrow escape the series had in 1968, then yes, this works. We can listen to it emitting gasps and giggles when we hear of Captain Mavis and her army of women in black rubber fetish wear, and shaking our heads when Jamie finally  tputs the brainwashed Zoe over his knee. However, as much as I like the idea of the young Wendy Padbury in such a provocative costume, the very idea that this could have ever been made for television is absurd. As an early 70s’ comedy piss-take of the show it might have just about cut it, but not as part of the canon itself. Doctor Who could be camp, funny, over-the-top and with all the subtlety of Babs’ proposal to the Doctor, but there is a limit. On the other hand, when you think of some the stuff Star Trek got away with around the same time…


Perhaps someone could hand the script to Zack Snyder to use as a follow-up to his Sucker Punch. I’m sure he could do the outfits justice.


Copyright © Daniel Tessier 2011


Daniel Tessier has asserted his right under the Copyright, Design

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



Zoe refers to the events of The Dominators here, suggesting that this adventure is set soon afterwards. Given the tight continuity between the two subsequent stories, The Mind Robber and The Invasion, the next feasible placement for Prison in Space would be just after them both, in the lacuna between The Invasion and The Krotons – which just happens to be when it would have been broadcast, had it been made instead of The Krotons. We have therefore placed it just prior to The Krotons so as to also accommodate interim novels such as The Indestructible Man.


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