Responding to an Ice Warrior ambassador’s distress call, the Doctor, Peri and Erimem wind up on a doomed ship on a crash course for the planet Peladon, a world the Doctor has visited before. The Ice Warrior’s ship breaks up as it begins to enter the atmosphere, stranding the TARDIS in orbit as the crew cabin plummets to the planet below. On Peladon, a recent tragedy has left the planet without its queen, and a young prince prepares to take the throne on the eve of his wedding to a princess from Earth. But the prince, among others, has been hearing a mysterious voice, bidding all who hear it to offer up a sacrifice of royal blood – and any royal blood, from the arriving princess to Erimem, will suffice to unlock an ancient terror similar to one that the Doctor has faced before.
Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri), Caroline Morris (Erimem), Phyllida Law (Belldonia); Jenny Agutter (Voice); Christian Coulson (Pelleas), Yasmin Bannerman (Pandora), Nicholas Briggs (Zixlyr), Jane Goddard (Alpha Centauri), Richard Earl (Frankis), Peter Sowerbutts (Elkin), Philip Childs (Foreman), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Miner)
Timeline: between The Mind’s Eye and Mission Of The Viyrans
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: A clever combination of several elements of Doctor Who history, The Bride Of Peladon is a welcome revisitation to one of Doctor Who’s best-loved settings, the royal court (and adjacent secret passages) of Peladon, as first visited in Jon Pertwee’s era. Add classic elements such as the Ice Warriors, Alpha Centauri, and throw in a dash of an all-time classic Tom Baker story (a dash that, upon first listening, I really should have seen coming but didn’t), and Bride serves up a sequel to more than one classic Who story.
But Bride also bids farewell to Caroline Morris as Erimem, the fifth Doctor’s audio-only companion. It doesn’t seem that long since she was introduced, but as of Bride‘s release, Erimem has graced Big Finish’s version of Davison’s TARDIS for nearly seven years. At times it’s seemed as though no one can quite figure out what to do with the character, so finding her a stopping point steeped in the kind of royal intrigue to which she is accustomed probably isn’t a bad idea. Davison’s era is so tightly serialized that the long stretch of adventures with Peri and Erimem had to be placed between Planet Of Fire and Caves Of Androzani – two TV stories which didn’t seem to take place that far apart – and that increasingly lengthy interval was becoming slightly improbable. (But far be it from me to complain, it seems that Erimem was written out of audio Who just in time for a new audio-only companion to be created, one who would accompany the fifth Doctor and Nyssa during an interval jammed in between Time-Flight and Arc Of Infinity.)
The only downside to Bride is that a lot of the plotting is almost paint-by-numbers for a Peladon story: a new ruler thrust into the throne by a parent’s tragic (and mysterious) death, problems in the mines, distrust of the alien ambassadors who have set up shop on Peladon, possible Ice Warrior treachery, and Aggedor hanging around waiting to wreak havoc. There’s one really big twist – the one that comes in the form of an homage to a classic TV story that didn’t take place on Peladon – at the end of episode three that shakes things up a bit, though once I realized what it was, I realized that I should’ve seen it coming, but missed the forest for looking at the Peladonian trees. This revelation also ties in neatly to Erimem’s own background, tying everything off in a way that doesn’t seem cheap or contrived – very good plotting, actually.
Yasmin Bannerman, whose new series character of Jabe is still a fan favorite, is wonderful as a surprisingly working-class Earth princess, while Thomas Sangster (Human Nature / Family Of Blood) puts in another – albeit very brief – appearance. And while I’ve been critical of a couple of Jane Goddard’s past performances for Big Finish, she turns in a stunningly good Alpha Centauri here. Jenny (Logan’s Run) Agutter is a baddie with a sibiliant voice, and that’s all I’ll say for now.
The Bride Of Peladon is a good listen, but be careful that it doesn’t lull you into a false sense of “seen/heard it before” – right up to the last dialogue exchange of part four, it has a few zingers to keep you on your toes.