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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
Prisoners of Fate


Starring: Peter Davison
Publisher: Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78178 074 9
Release Date: 30 June 2013

Twenty-five years ago, with Richter’s Syndrome running rampant throughout the galaxy, the brilliant biochemist Nyssa, formerly of Traken, bade a painful farewell to her young family, and set off into space, in search of a cure for this deadly disease. She never returned. Now, her grown-up son continues her work on the penal colony of Valderon, still desperate to make the breakthrough that eluded his presumed-dead mother. So when the TARDIS lands on Valderon, bringing the Doctor, Tegan, Turlough and Nyssa to its fortress prison, the scene is set for a painful reunion – but not only for Nyssa. The Doctor’s past is about to catch up with him too...


Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) has been somewhat sidelined of late, with the spotlight falling instead on her fellow travellers, Mark Strickson’s Turlough (in Eldrad Must Die!) and Janet Fielding’s Tegan (in The Lady of Mercia), while the Trakenite’s search for a cure for Richter’s Syndrome has been all but forgotten. However, Jonathan Morris tackles the character and her quest head on in Prisoners of Fate, which resolves several ongoing plot arcs surrounding Nyssa and her family.

From the trailer to this story, I had expected something akin to the Deep Space Nine episode Children of Time, with Nyssa facing a personal tragedy that can only be undone by altering established history. The plot does contain an element of this, but also so much more, including a Doctor Who spin on Minority Report.


I didn’t expect to encounter a vengeful TARDIS – and certainly not one that can take on human form! Some of you may think that the latter is a steal from the 2011 episode The Doctor’s Wife (or in this case an embittered ex), but actually the idea of an humanoid TARDIS has been around since the 1997 novel Alien Bodies… or even earlier if you count the Melkur in The Keeper of Traken. Morris’s TARDIS-based revelation contradicts Jon Preddle’s carefully thought out theory (in his book Timelink) that the Doctor was piloting his Type 40 before he left Gallifrey. On the other hand, it coincidentally ties in perfectly with The Name of the Doctor.

As well as paying off on developments in several Fifth Doctor adventures from Big Finish, the story also has strong links with themes from Peter Davison’s television tenure, incorporating discussions of Terminus and the two Brigadiers in Mawdryn Undead – complete with a delightful use of the word Blinovitch as a verb by Tegan! The sound design by Fool Circle is also suitably nostalgic, combining Roger Limb-style doom-laden bass with Paddy Kingsland-esque ethereal high notes… and you can even hear the squeak of the Doctor’s trainers on the TARDIS floor!

There is one slip-up. I don’t know whether this was in the script or in Sarah Douglas’s delivery of the line, but the Doctor’s next regeneration should actually be his fifth, not his fourth.

Mixing planet-sized problems with intimately poignant personal moments, Prisoners of Fate has it all. With repercussions that reach back to before the very first transmitted episode, a coincidental tie-in with the most recent one, fifty years of painful separation, and clips of other Big Finish Doctors, this is an excellent addition to Doctor Who’s Type 50 anniversary.


Richard McGinlay

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