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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The Lost Stories
The Elite


Starring: Peter Davison
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 573 0
Available 31 October 2011

Following their adventure in Amsterdam, the Doctor offers to take his companions Tegan and Nyssa on a relaxing trip to the paradise planet of Florana. However, the TARDIS takes them instead to a domed city on a world scarred by warfare - a world where everyone is young, and fighting for the glory of the Elite. Hidden away in the Cathedral of Power, the High Priest is watching. A decade ago, he crash-landed on the planet. Setting himself up as an emissary of the gods, he brought knowledge, technology, order and religion. He knows the Doctor, and the Time Lord’s arrival changes everything...


Some of you may already have guessed the twist that occurs at the halfway point of this four-part story, thanks to the image of the alien depicted on Alex Mallinson’s front cover illustration. I, however, had not made the connection between that brainy creature and the mutants that dwell within Dalek casings. For some reason, I was reminded more of another Terry Nation creation, the Brains of Morphoton from The Keys of Marinus. No, what gave the game away for me was the credit on the back cover: “Daleks © The Estate of Terry Nation and used under licence.” Couldn’t that note have been tucked away with the interior credits?

Fortunately this serial, written by John Dorney from an untelevised storyline submission by Barbara Clegg, has further surprises in store.

The Elite gives us a highly unusual depiction of a familiar foe. Clegg’s notion of a lone, battle-damaged Dalek pre-empts Robert Shearman’s Jubilee and Dalek by a couple of decades, as well as the Daleks’ religious fundamentalism in The Parting of the Ways. Before The Five Doctors and Resurrection of the Daleks gave us lingering close-ups of adult Kaled mutants for the first time, the mid-point cliffhanger of this serial would have worked very well on screen.

The story fits right in with the structure and style of the show’s twentieth television season, featuring an element from the show’s past, and continuity references galore during the opening TARDIS scene. As was traditional at the time, Dorney includes allusions to the previous transmitted story (Arc of Infinity), as well as references to the programme’s more distant past (the Doctor attempts to visit Florana, as he tried and failed to do during Jon Pertwee’s final season). Some of the connections are retroactive, tying in the Fifth Doctor’s audio adventures with Nyssa (Sarah Sutton), and his solo side trip in Omega. Some of the continuity is wonderfully cheeky, as when Tegan (Janet Fielding) learns that her belongings have been put into storage. She remarks that, “I’ll have to wear this outfit for weeks”, a reference to her retaining the same costume during most of Season 20. Conveniently, the subsequent season’s Resurrection of the Daleks gives no real indication whether or not Tegan has encountered the Daleks before, so no continuity problems arise there.

The incidental music by Fool Circle Productions also evokes the era. Paddy Kingsland meets Roger Limb... then Malcolm Clarke walks in during Part Three and makes them play it LOUDER! So loud, in fact, that it threatens to drown out some of the actors.

Less of its time is the characterisation of Peter Davison’s Doctor, who seems more eccentric than usual, exhibiting some of Tom Baker’s mercurial qualities and Colin Baker’s verbosity. The presence of rebels against the dictatorial regime, who are stirred up by a spirited companion (in this case Tegan), is a cliché of classic Doctor Who as a whole, though not one that was often employed during Davison’s television tenure.

The Elite also touches upon the notion of video games encouraging violent tendencies in young people, which is as topical now as it was in the 1980s. Had the serial been produced then, however, it might have had to be renamed to avoid associations with Acornsoft’s Elite, which was in development during 1982-84.

This story may not truly rank among the elite (some of the guest artists are also a bit over the top at times), but it provides plenty of entertainment for children of the ’80s such as myself.


Richard McGinlay

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