1001 Nights

Doctor WhoIn an Arabian palace, the Doctor languishes in the dungeon with a feeble man claiming to be the Sultan, while another man claiming to be the Sultan forces Nyssa to tell tale after tale of the Doctor’s exploits, without ever questioning the Doctor’s talents, his TARDIS, or his otherworldly nature. As the Doctor tries to escape and to free the real Sultan, he begins to realize that the phenomenon that has affected the Sultan’s mind is beginning to affect his as well. He suspects that the palace is now being run by a creature which can replace any living being about which it gathers enough information. As the fake Sultan compels Nyssa to tell it stories of her travels with the Doctor (under pain of death), it’s gathering all the intelligence it needs.

Order this CDMy Brother’s Keeper written by Emma Beeby and Gordon Rennie
The Interplanetarian written by Jonathan Barnes
Smuggling Tales written by Catherine Harvey
1001 Nights written by Emma Beeby and Gordon Rennie
directed by Barnaby Edwards
music by Jamie Robertson

My Brother’s Keeper Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Alexander Siddig (The Sultan), Nadim Sawalha (The Old Man), Teddy Kempner (Prisoner), Malcolm Tierney (Warder)

The Interplanetarian Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Alexander Siddig (The Sultan), Nadim Sawalha (The Old Man), Debbie Leigh-Simmons (Elizabeth Spinnaker), Oliver Coopersmith (Hill)

Smuggling Tales Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Alexander Siddig (The Sultan), Nadim Sawalha (The Old Man), Kim Ismay (Lottie), Debbie Leigh-Simmons (Bessie), Christopher Luscombe (Balladeer), Oliver Coopersmith (Archie)

1001 Nights Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Alexander Siddig (The Sultan), Nadim Sawalha (The Old Man), Teddy Kempner (Nazar), Kim Ismay (Woman Stallholder), Malcolm Tierney (Gantha), Debbie Leigh-Simmons (Crying Woman), Christopher Luscombe (Alien Psychiatrist)

LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green

Review: A somewhat more focused collection of one-off stories than some of Big Finish’s past anthology releases, 1001 Nights approaches the quartet of individual stories differently: there are three stories recounted in the past tense, and the fourth story wraps up the mystery bubbling under the recounting of the other three tales. Although it’s on the verge of starting out as a stereotypical role for him, Alexander Siddig is outstanding as the sinister Sultan who then reveals his true nature and then – for reasons that the story makes clear – begins behaving more and more like the Doctor.

Within the three individual stories and the over-arching framing story, 1001 Nights covers a lot of ground as far as storytelling variety, and yet it never strays far from the storytelling element of its built-in story arc. Unlike most of the past anthologies, after the story-within-the-story is told, we return to the “present day” to check in with the Doctor and the captive old man, and Nyssa and her decidedly threatening host. It’s a new take on the anthology structure for Big Finish, one that starts to straddle the fence between anthology and a more traditional multi-episode story.