The Doctor and Mrs. Wibbsey, with the Skishtari egg in hand, escape back to Earth through a wormhole, and they arrive in the village of Hexford… over a century early. Nest Cottage, and the Doctor’s equipment there, do not exist. Worse yet, Alexander, Booln and the egg have vanished without a trace. Something is causing the residents of 19th century Hexford to vanish, and naturally the newly arrived time travelers quickly rise to the top of the list of suspected causes for the disappearances. When she meets Mr. Bewley and his young charge, a boy named Andrew who never takes off his mask, Mrs. Wibbsey realizes that both Boolin and Alexander did arrive, and their memories of their true identities have been lost as a result of crashing down to Earth. Worse yet, “Andrew” is harnessing the power of the Skishtari egg to bring his imagination to life, often for unsavory reasons. Has the Robotov Empire’s future ruler developed a murderously cruel streak in exile?
Cast: Tom Baker (The Doctor), Susan Jameson (Mrs. Wibbsey), Terrence Hardiman (Reverend Dobbs), Joanna David (Mrs. Audley), Guy Harvey (Andrew), Simon Shepherd (Mr. Bewley), Charlie Mitchell (Jake), Elinor Coleman (Sally), Geoff Leesley (Harold), Su Douglas (The Cook)
Notes: Guest star Michael Jayston appears in a role unrelated to his infamous recurring Doctor Who character, the Valeyard (from the 1986 Trial Of A Time Lord season). Sam Hoare went on to appear as Doctor Who floor manager (and future director) Douglas Camfield in the 2013 docudrama An Adventure In Space And Time. The Doctor says he appeared in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.
Timeline: moments after Sepulchre and before The Broken Crown; prior to The Ribos Operation
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: Following up directly from Tsar Wars, The Broken Crown manages to be unnerving in many places. One thing it doesn’t do, however, is stay on the “full cast audio drama” side of the fence – narration begins creeping back into the proceedings toward the end of the story, as “Andrew” revels in how powerfully his twisted imagination can control the Skishtari egg.
Despite the shift back to “audiobook” and away from “audio drama”, Serpent Crest quickly proves to be the best-constructed of the three Paul Magrs pentalogies – there’s a real sense of danger from forces the Doctor can’t control, and Mrs. Wibbsey is a more than capable companion. She may not like every situation in which the TARDIS deposits her, but she’s more adaptable than Hornets’ Nest or Demon Quest might have given her credit for being – it’s good stuff.