The Doctor, having set the TARDIS’ randomizer to send the timeship to a thousand planets under the supervision of K-9 in order to throw the Black Guardian off his scent, settles down in 1920s England to relax. Romana reluctantly joins him, finding little to stimulate her intellectually. She happens upon Reginald Bassett, the heir-apparent of a local estate, and is stunned when he seems to demonstrate a more-than-passing acquaintance with quantum theory. She’s even more stunned, however, when he pops the question unexpectedly, asking her to marry him and insisting upon introducing her to his aunt, a sinister matriarch whose interest in Reggie’s choices in women is more than mere family concern.
Cast: Tom Baker (The Doctor), Mary Tamm (Romana), Julia McKenzie (Florence), Robert Portal (Reggie), Lucy Griffiths (Mabel), Alan Cox (Grenville), Jane Slavin (Ligeia)
Notes: Both Earth and the Doctor himself are described as “harmless… well, mostly,” a nod to Earth’s “mostly harmless” status in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, which was written by Douglas Adams. His earliest produced Doctor Who scripts were part of the 16th season, which introduced Romana.
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: An almost surreal little story, The Auntie Matter is almost a self-parody, leaning heavily on “I say! Cor blimey!” stereotypes for comedic effect; once the macabre begins encroaching on this terribly pleasant Englishness, I couldn’t get the Monty Python “Sam Peckinpah’s Salad Days” sketch out of my head no matter how hard I tried.
The cast attacks the material with relish, and it’s this set of performances that prevent the proceedings from dipping fully into parody. It’s a pleasant enough jumping-on point – as if anyone actually managed to resist sampling Tom Baker a la Big Finish for the entire first “season” of fourth Doctor audios – but it’s not representative of the other stories in what would prove, sadly, to be the only fourth Doctor/Romana audio “season”.