Aboard an Earth Empire carrier ship, an ace fighter jock is spooked when he hears a bell that he knows doesn’t belong to the 22nd century. Infuriated, his commanding officer has him pulled from flight rotation, at roughly the same time that the TARDIS materializes in her ship’s cargo bay. The Doctor, too, has heard the bell, but he has a better idea of where one might expect to hear that sound: on a passenger train in the 1950s, not at the edge of the solar system in 2197. When the Doctor admits that this realization terrifies him, Evelyn is concerned, and when the time travelers are caught investigating the ship, they’re held responsible for the increasing number of instances in which a member of the crew has nearly gone mad after hearing the bell. A mysterious door appears in the hold, a door which should lead directly into space without even so much as an airlock…and yet it doesn’t. As more of the carrier’s crew hear the bell, they are compelled to seek out the door and step through it, vanishing without a trace. The ship’s captain is prepared to summarily execute the Doctor, believing he is responsible for what must surely be an alien act of sabotage. But who’s behind the door, and who’s ringing the bell? And what ties this 22nd century crisis to a train in the 20th?
Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Maggie Stables (Evelyn Smythe), Nicholas Briggs (Trevor Ridgely), Martha Cope (Captain Oswin), Stephen Critchlow (O’Keefe), Andrew Fettes (Master-at-Arms), John Killoran (Palmer), Benjamin Roddy (Operations), John Schwab (EXO Moore), Andrew Wisher (Armstrong), Philip Wolff (Hayman)
Notes: Two different covers were produced for this story, the artists being fans who submitted entries to Big Finish as part of an online contest to seek new artistic talent. The artwork of the Doctor and the strange door was designed by Simon Holub, who later went on to work steadily for Big Finish, and the artwork featuring the train was designed by William Cox.
Timeline: After Pier Pressure and before 100
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: There’s a fascinating premise at the heart of The Nowhere Place, but sadly it gets lost under layers of weird things happening for weirdness’ own sake. The setting – at least the future military setting – is interesting enough (and seems to owe more than a little something to the revived Battlestar Galactica), and the performances carry things along nicely, but the fact that somewhere between one-third and one-half of episode four (which already runs well over the length of a normal 25-minute TV episode of the 1980s) is spent explaining everything that’s happened should’ve been a dead giveaway during pre-production that the story needed a bit of lucidity, rather than a fourth-quarter info-dump.
The crazy thing about that is that Nowhere Place comes from the pen of Nick Briggs who, when he’s not voicing the Daleks and Cybermen for the new TV series, shows a tendency to turn out frequently very good audio material (much of the Dalek Empire saga, Creatures Of Beauty, and so on). But anyone can misjudge a story in progress. Nowhere Place has gobs of atmosphere during its first two segments, but then it gets too strange for the sake of being strange…when it’s already plenty strange enough (what with being a Doctor Who story and all).
Another big problem with Nowhere Place is that it’s an example, having been released before the 2007 reformatting of the Big Finish audio adventures, of the audio stories simply running unnecessarily long. Nowhere Place wasn’t so densely packed with vital story information or even atmosphere that each episode had to run over 30 minutes – there’s nothing about the story that a little bit of editing TLC couldn’t have fixed, whether that means editing down for time, or a bit of story editing to buffer against the info-dump effect.
Not the best Doctor Who audio story, but certainly not the worst, either. Clear some time in your schedule, and good luck figuring it out before it gets explained to you in episode four.