The TARDIS lands in Kenya, during the native Mau Mau uprising against British colonialists, where the Doctor finds an isolated community of women awaiting either an end to the fighting or a rescue party. But among them is Elizabeth Klein, the Nazi scientist from an alternate future that the Doctor first met during his internment at Colditz Castle. Now trapped in a timeline where the Third Reich fell, Klein is living in exile among fascist sympathizers, making her own plans. When an alien influence is found to be waiting for its chance to invade, the Doctor and Klein are forced into an uneasy alliance.
Cast: Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Tracey Childs (Elizabeth Klein), Ann Bell (Mrs. Sylvia O’Donnell), Abigail McKern (Mrs. Denise Waterford), Joannah Tincey (Miss Lucy Watts), Chuk Iwuji (Joshua Sembeke), Alex Mallinson (Abraham)
Notes: Klein, played by Tracey Childs, first appeared in the 2001 audio drama Colditz, which revealed only that she was from an alternate, Nazi-dominated future Earth, and had the capability of piloting the TARDIS. Between her first and second appearances as Klein, actress Tracey Childs made an appearance in the Doctor Who TV episode The Fires Of Pompeii, as the matriarch of the only family to survive the eruption of Vesuvius. Chuk Iwuji also made an appearance on TV Doctor Who, as a Secret Service agent in The Impossible Astronaut (2011). Klein is apparently acquainted with exiled Nazi de Flores (Silver Nemesis, 1988).
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: While I wasn’t a big fan of Colditz and certainly never expected any follow-up to it (even though some follow-up was clearly intended with the enigmatic setup of Klein. But her reintroduction as a new traveling companion for the Doctor is an intriguing one, and Tracey Childs manages to create a deliciously chilly rapport with Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor. The barely-civil interactions and barbs are delightfully played: it’s safe to say that the Doctor has never had such a frosty relationship with a fellow TARDIS traveler.
A Thousand Tiny Wings also has some educational value, with its real historical setting and a little bit of meta-commentary on some of the darker chapters of Britain’s colonial history. (Of course, Klein helpfully points out an alternate timeline version of the Mau Mau uprising that was dealt with in a far more aggressive manner, though great pains are taken not to let the British Empire off the hook – the lesser of two evils remains an evil, even when painted in relative terms.) This is also not the only audio story to thumb its nose at British colonialism (The Emerald Tiger, and the made-for-radio Torchwood story Golden Age).
And, of course, if you’re dipping your toes into Nazi-related storytelling, you’re never more than a few steps away from a mention of Josef Mengele. A Thousand Tiny Steps goes there too, though it’s fascinating how murky the waters get when the seventh Doctor is the one preaching against the ends justifying the means. The seventh Doctor, in his televised stories alone, waxed genocidal against such foes as the Daleks and Cybermen, fomented rebellion and toppled entire governments in a single night, and began plowing the “no second chances, that’s the kind of man I am” path that the new series has eagerly embraced. Klein seizes on the chance to point out that there’s just a whiff of hypocrisy to the Doctor’s sermons.
I wasn’t sure, going into A Thousand Tiny Wings, that I had any desire to follow up on any element of Colditz. I left it bristling with excitement for how many sparks might be thrown among the new TARDIS crew: the constantly-bickering Davison-era team’s got nothing on this lineup.