The Coup

UNIT: The CoupCalled out of retirement to participate in a press conference following an apparent attack in the heart of London, Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart finds that life as a member of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce hasn’t changed a bit; a helicopter attacks the limo carrying him to deliver his speech. The driver is killed in the attack, but Lethbridge-Stewart’s steady aim helps to bring the helicopter down – where he discovers that its crew consisted of one human and one Silurian. Convinced that this incident has something to do with the planned handover of UNIT’s responsibilities within British borders to a new agency called ICIS, Lethbridge-Stewart takes drastic measures to preserve UNIT’s authority – even if it means blowing decades of covert operations involving alien invaders wide open.

written by Simon Guerrier
directed by Ian Farrington
music by David Darlington

Cast: Nicholas Courtney (The Brigadier), Siri O’Neal (Colonel Emily Chaudhry), Scott Andrews (Scott), Matthew Brenher (Silurian voices), Sara Carver (Captain Winnington), Michael Hobbs (Francis Currie)

Notes: The Coup was one of two stories included on a free CD given away with Doctor Who Magazine, along with the Bernice Summerfield/Cybermen adventure Silver Lining. Neither has been released separately or for individual sale. Lethbridge-Stewart says that he encountered the Silurians 30 years ago, though this raises the thorny continuity question of what years were depicted in the Jon Pertwee era; if one sets those TV stories in the same year that they were first broadcast, that puts The Coup in the year 2000, 30 years after 1970. However, Sarah Jane Smith, introduced at the beginning of Pertwee’s final season as the Doctor, later claimed (in Pyramids Of Mars) to have met the Doctor in the year 1980, which would place the first Pertwee season around 1975 or ’76, which would place The Coup in the present day of its release, 2005. (It’s also worth noting that the Brigadier himself said “Yes, Ma’am” to the Prime Minister on the phone in the Tom Baker story Terror Of The Zygons, which, despite being broadcast in 1976, would appear to be set during the Thatcher era, again lending credence to the UNIT stories being around 5 years ahead of their time.) It’s also possible that Lethbridge-Stewart’s memory fails him, but given that he’s still a crack shot with firearms in this story, that doesn’t seem likely. Lethbridge-Stewart was a General when he retired, a rank to which he’s risen in many of Doctor Who’s “expanded universe” media.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Time Heals

UNIT: Time HealsWith UNIT’s work now out in the open, Colonel Emily Chaudhry finds her duties as UNIT’s public relations officer growing more complicated by the day. The latest operation – making a very visible show of transporting discarded nuclear weapons to keep the press and public’s attention away from a smaller convoy transporting pieces of an apparent alien spacecraft – proves to be no exception when both the spacecraft convoy and its decoy convoy are attacked almost simultaneously. UNIT’s commanding officer, Colonel Brimmicombe-Wood, is kidnapped, but no one else is taken. The spacecraft is quietly spirited away by a group who wishes to use its technology to further its secret space-time experiments. But the experiments continue to go horribly wrong, resulting in commuter train crashes with massive casualties, a major disruption of the British banking system, and even a jetliner crash directly into Windsor Castle. Colonel Chaudhry and the rest of UNIT try to piece together the puzzle and find their missing CO, but when a new CO, Colonel Dalton, is assigned to take over, he seems like a poor fit: he knows nothing of UNIT’s past work, and shows no interest in learning. Worse yet, Chaudhry discovers that he may have ties to ICIS.

Order this CDwritten by Iain McLaughlin & Claire Bartlett
directed by Jason Haigh-Ellery
music by David Darlington

Cast: Nicholas Courtney (The Brigadier), Siri O’Neal (Colonel Emily Chaudhry), Nicholas Deal (Colonel Robert Dalton), Robert Curbishley (Lt. Will Hoffman), Matthew Brenher (Captain Dodds), Michael Hobbs (Francis Currie), Stephen Carlile (Kelly), Alfred Hoffman (Meade)

Notes: Colonel Brimmicombe-Wood, a character originally established in the alternate universe of the Doctor Who Unbound story Sympathy For The Devil, doesn’t actually appear in this story; apparently he’s a UNIT fixture in the “normal” Doctor Who timeline as well (if, indeed, any such thing can be said to exist and can be described as normal). For the record, UNIT seems to have terrible trouble with nuclear convoys (one is hijacked by armored knights from a parallel dimension in Battlefield, the first story of Sylvester McCoy’s final season as the Doctor) and with the transportation of spacecraft (as seen in 1970’s Ambassadors Of Death).

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Snake Head

UNIT: Snake HeadA mysterious death and a mangled body on a beach at Southend gets UNIT’s attention, and Colonel Chaudhry and Colonel Dalton arrive to investigate. What starts out looking like an investigation best handled by immigration officials takes a more sinister turn when a recorded emergency call repeatedly refers to “vrkolak” – a particularly nasty Armenian vampire legend. Chaudhry finds clues about how the illegal immigrant found dead on the beach arrived in Britain, and traces those clues back to a man who artfully dodges almost all of her questions about bringing illegal immigrants into the country as laborers. Dalton, in the meantime, finds another man just smuggled into the U.K. from Kosovo – a man who claims to be a professional vampire hunter, on the trail of the vrkolak (a claim which the still-skeptical Dalton finds incredibly had to believe). Dalton, despite now having caught up on UNIT’s past, can’t bring himself to accept that he and his officers are participating in a vampire hunt; he also accuses Chaudhry of believing in the unexplained far too readily. But before the sun rises again, something may happen to forever change Dalton’s mind.

Order this CDwritten by Jonathan Clements
directed by John Ainsworth
music by David Darlington

Cast: Siri O’Neal (Colonel Emily Chaudhry), Nicholas Deal (Colonel Robert Dalton), Ian Brooker (Dr. Hendrick), Robert Curbishley (Lt. Will Hoffman), Ian Hayles (Kevin), Toby Longworth (Goran), Jane MacFarlane (Anni)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Longest Night

UNIT: The Longest NightLt. Hoffman is caught in the middle of a terrorist bombing of a pub in London, but lives long enough to call Colonel Dalton and identify the attackers who sweep through the rubble, murdering survivors, as Scottish. Other attacks follow, and the media quickly dubs the night “Britain’s 9/11.” As Colonel Chaudhry races to meet reporter Francis Currie, who calls her claiming to know who’s behind the rapidly escalating series of attacks, Dalton listens as reports emerge in the news media about Muslim attackers – not Scottish. More suicide bombings take place, and Major Kirby of ICIS puts pressure on the Prime Minister to put Britain under martial law – and to put ICIS in charge. When Chaudhry meets Francis Currie, she’s amazed when the reporter tries to strangle her. She incapacitates him and finds that he’s under some form of mind control – and increasingly, it appears that all of the incidents involve similar mind control, all seemingly triggered by random phone calls from “help lines.” But Chaudhry and Dalton soon find that the trail leads to ICIS itself – and that even UNIT’s finest aren’t immune to the mind control.

Order this CDwritten by Joseph Lidster
directed by Edward Salt
music by David Darlington

Cast: Siri O’Neal (Colonel Emily Chaudhry), Nicholas Deal (Colonel Robert Dalton), Scott Andrews (Scott Christie), Sara Carver (Andrea Winnington), Robert Curbishley (Lieutenant Hoffman), Georgina Field (Nisha Townsend), Michael Hobbs (Francis Currie), Harry Myers (PM’s Aide), Steffan Rhodri (Prime Minister), Vineeta Rishi (Meena Cartwright), Johnson Willis (Major Philip Kirby)

Notes: The reference to Albion Hospital could be a nod toward the new 2005 series of Doctor Who; by the time this story was recorded, fan photos had leaked out showing a Cardiff location being redressed as “Albion Hospital” for the episode Aliens Of London, which also featured UNIT. Colonel Chaudhry’s reference to a “John Smith” situation is followed up by Colonel Dalton’s reference to shop dummies, an equally handy Auton reference; it’s unknown if this is a reference to a situation that has been connected to the Doctor, a situation that might be solved easier with the Doctor’s intervention, or something else. (“Doctor John Smith” was the alias used by the Doctor when the Brigadier put him on UNIT’s payroll in Spearhead From Space.) Reporter Francis Currie, sacked by the BBC, is now working for the Planet 3 network, which happens to be Sarah Jane Smith’s former employer in Big Finish continuity. Currie also mentions that a female reporter from Planet 3 exposed Major Kirby’s secret “a couple of years ago”, which may also have been Sarah.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Wasting

UNIT: The WastingIn the wake of Colonel Dalton’s death in the London incident, Colonel Chaudhry is on the mend, having only just come out of a two-week coma. Lethbridge-Stewart comes out of retirement yet again to try to inspire Chaudhry to fight back against ICIS once and for all – and to offer his help. But before they can put their plans for ICIS into action, UNIT is assigned to look into a virus that is quickly spreading around the world. Initially displaying flu-like symptoms, the disease eventually leaves its victims in a violent, zombie-like state. Lethbridge-Stewart calls in some old favors and has the virus analyzed, discovering that it’s a devastating, alien-engineered bioweapon that attacks and alters its victims at the genetic level. Persistent reporter Francis Currie comes to Chaudhry with videotape he and his cameraman have just filmed, showing armed soldiers in UNIT uniform killing victims of the plague in cold blood. But while Currie has brought this copy of the tape to UNIT, his cameraman has put it on the air – and the Army moves in to arrest UNIT, according to a carefully orchestrated ICIS plan. ICIS wants nothing less than to sieze control of the British government and institute a foreign policy steeped in xenophobia. Chaudhry and Lethbridge-Stewart find that they have friends they didn’t know they have – and enemies who have been watching from just over their shoulders all along.

Order this CDwritten by Iain McLaughlin and Claire Bartlett
directed by Nicola Bryant
music by David Darlington

Cast: Nicholas Courtney (The Brigadier), Siri O’Neal (Colonel Emily Chaudhry), David Tennant (Colonel Ross Brimmicombe-Wood), Nora Brande (Sergeant Willis), Sara Carver (Andrea Winnington), Michael Hobbs (Francis Currie), Adrian McLoughlin (George), Steffan Rhodri (Prime Minister), Alex Zorbas (Corporal McLeish)

Notes: The Brigadier cites the Silurians’ expertise in biological warfare, which he got to see for himself in Doctor Who and the Silurians (1970). The Brigadier’s reference to “an old blood-and-thunder like me” could be a reference to the fan-made 1993 video drama Wartime, which also used that term to describe him, though a little less flatteringly. Colonel Chaudhry says she’s met more than one of the Doctor’s incarnations, though it didn’t occur during this audio series. The Brigadier calls on the services of Commodore Harry Sullivan to analyze the virus; Harry traveled with the fourth Doctor and Sarah for a time and was played by the late Ian Marter, who died in 1986 on his 42nd birthday from complications from diabetes. Director Nicola Bryant was herself a former Doctor Who companion, starring as Peri from 1984 through 1986; she has also directed other Big Finish audio projects, such as the Judge Dredd series.

This was the first Big Finish audio featuring David Tennant to be released after it was announced that he would succeed Christopher Eccleston in the role of the Doctor shortly after the revived TV series premiered. What Tennant was unable to tell any of his UNIT co-stars during recording was that he had already been cast as the next Doctor. This story, and the unrelated comics audio adaptation The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, represent Tennant’s final Big Finish appearances to date.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

UNIT: Dominion

Doctor WhoOn Earth, a seashell-like organic mass appears in London, burrows its roots into the city’s power grid, and slowly begins growing in size as it feeds. UNIT has been called in to deal with it, though UNIT’s scientific advisor, Dr. Elizabeth Klein, is unable to discover much about it.

The Doctor’s TARDIS follows a telepathic trail into an alternate dimension, landing on the world of the Tolians. They, too, are dealing with a seashell-like organic mass draining their power, though this one has taken things to a more advanced stage: having brought Tolian civilization to its knees, it now drains the life force from the Tolians themselves for lack of a more potent power source. The Doctor recongizes it as an interdimensional node, but when another TARDIS materializes and a younger, more brash incarnation of the Doctor strides out, the “new” Doctor warns the seventh Doctor not to help the Tolians. The Doctor ignores the future Doctor’s warning and tries to help, only to find himself ensnared in a trap: the Tolians force the Doctor to use the interdimensional node to drain energy from other dimensions.

The Doctor and Raine escape with their lives, emerging through a dimensional gateway to Earth, where they discover that the future Doctor has been helping Klein and UNIT battle a series of alien incursions in rapid succession. Klein is less than thrilled when the “Umbrella Man” returns to her life, and UNIT’s Major Wyland is concerned that the two Doctors don’t appear to be getting along very well – the “new” Doctor seems concerned only with getting back to his TARDIS as soon as possible, and seems to have an unusual rapport with nearly every interdimensional invader to appear. The Doctor discovers, far too late, that the man claiming to be his future self is acting only in his own interests, and has already taken steps to turn Klein against him… and every living thing on Earth may pay the price.

Order this CDwritten by Nicholas Briggs and Jason Arnopp
directed by Nicholas Briggs
music by Martin Johnson

Cast: Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Tracey Childs (Dr. Elizabeth Klein), Beth Chalmers (Raine Creevy) Alex Macqueen (The Other Doctor), Julian Dutton (Colonel Lafayette), Bradley Gardner (Sergeant Pete Wilson), Miranda Keeling (Sylvie/Liz Morrison), Ben Porter (Private Phillips/John Starr), Sam Clemens (Major Wyland-Jones), Alex Mallinson (Private Maynard/Arunzell), Sophie Aldred (Ace)

Notes: Alex McQueen played Julius in the British political comedy The Thick Of It; fellow cast member Peter Capaldi was cast as the Doctor just a few months after the release of UNIT Dominion.

Timeline: after Animal and before the 1996 TV Movie

LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green Read More

Vanguard

UNIT: The WastingKate Stewart of UNIT is invited to a public relations demonstration of a revolutionary low-cost 3-D printer marketed by Devlin FutureTech, which can print fully working electronics as well as simpler items. Devlin has had free printers donated to nearly every government office in the world, and promises to put 3-D printing in the hands of the entire human race. Kate is impressed, but is fairly certain that it’s of little interest to UNIT; she also finds herself hounded by a reporter who seems unusually well-informed about UNIT’s activities (and commanding officers) in the past. Back at UNIT HQ in the Tower of London, Osgood tracks an incoming swarm of objects heading toward Earth, and with Colonel Shindi and Captain Carter, sets out to find any objects that survive the Earth’s atmosphere and hit the ground. Many of the objects arrive intact around the world, and Osgood recognizes them instantly from UNIT’s records: a Nestene energy sphere, signaling a new Auton invasion.

written by Matt Fitton
directed by Ken Bentley
music by Howard Carter

Cast: Jemma Redgrave (Kate Stewart), Ingrid Oliver (Osgood), Warren Brown (Lieutenant Sam Bishop), Ramon Tikaram (Colonel Shindi), James Joyce (Captain Josh Carter), Steve John Shepherd (Simon Devlin), Karina Fernandez (Jenna Gold), Tracy Wiles (Jacqui McGee), Derek Carlyle (Tim Stevens) and Nicholas Briggs (Nestene Consciousness)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Earthfall

UNIT: The WastingOsgood is sent to the Gobi Desert to work with a UNIT operative, Lt. Sam Bishop, in locating a Nestene sphere of particular interest, a control sphere coordinating the movement of others around it. What they discover is that Autons are already on the scene, led by Devlin’s executive assistant, and the sphere itself is missing. Sam is injured in a firefight and Osgood is taken hostage by the Autons. Sam finds himself in the care of a Bedouin tribe, also in possession of the Nestene control sphere, and sets out to lure the Autons back to him so he can rescue Osgood. Kate pays Devlin, the head of Devlin FutureTech, a personal visit, trying to find out about Devlin’s recent unprecedented investment into the petrochemical and plastic industries, and his company’s overnight transformation from an IT company into the world’s leading maker of 3-D printers. When he reveals that he recovered from a debilitating disease by having his skull replaced with a plastic one, it seems to confirm Kate’s supicions that Devlin is in league with the Autons.

written by Andrew Smith
directed by Ken Bentley
music by Howard Carter

Cast: Jemma Redgrave (Kate Stewart), Ingrid Oliver (Osgood), Warren Brown (Lieutenant Sam Bishop), Ramon Tikaram (Colonel Shindi), James Joyce (Captain Josh Carter), Steve John Shepherd (Simon Devlin), Karina Fernandez (Jenna Gold), Tracy Wiles (Jacqui McGee), Derek Carlyle (Tim Stevens) and Nicholas Briggs (Nestene Consciousness)

LogBook entry by Earl Green