Eldrad Must Die!

Doctor WhoThe TARDIS arrives near a beach, where Tegan hopes to show Nyssa and Turlough a thing or two about Earth recreation, but the beach proves to be hazardous – growths on local birds and fish seem to be forcing quartz crystals through their skin, and even the sand beneath the water is full of sharp crystal shards. An old school friend of Turlough’s is nearby, and though they are now separated by decades of age, he appears to have big plans for Turlough. Turlough falls under the thrall of the living crystal slowly encroaching on the beach, which fills his mind with a singular new purpose: he must kill Eldrad. Others exposed to the living crystal feel differently: Eldrad must live. The Doctor comes to a terrible realization: the planet Kastria is still nothing but dust, and a clash of titans between Eldrad and an executioner appointed by his people has been relocated to Earth.

Order this CDwritten by Marc Platt
directed by Ken Bentley
music by Wilfredo Acosta

Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka), Mark Strickson (Turlough), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Stephen Thorne (Eldrad), Nancy Carroll (Mulkris), Pip Torrens (Charlie Gibbs), Jessica Claire (Kate Sherrin), Brian Protheroe (Bob Gell), Mark Field (Jim)

Notes: The fourth Doctor encountered Eldrad when it briefly took over the body of Sarah Jane Smith in The Hand Of Fear (1976). Turlough’s background at Brendan School was part of his introductory television adventure, Mawdryn Undead (1983); references are also made to Deela (Kiss Of Death, 2009).

Timeline: for the Doctor, Tegan and Turlough: between Enlightenment and The King’s Demons; for Nyssa: 50 years after Terminus. This story takes place after The Jupiter Conjunction and before Eldrad Must Die!.

LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green

Review: An interesting follow-up to The Hand Of Fear (a ’70s TV story that really required no follow-up), Eldrad Must Die! at least manages not to be a carbon copy of its inspiration, though it seems to plunder plenty of other Doctor Who and other media: the concept of Turlough having a weak will returns from his earliest TV appearances, and the “internal dialogue personified by fellow members of the regular cast” gag pops up so often, I’d think I was listening to a recording of budget-strapped ’90s TV, which seemed to use this device ad nauseum.

Eldrad Must Die gets plenty right, though. The cast do a fine job, both as their characters in their natural state and then as zombie-like servants of either Eldrad or the being who has hunted Eldrad down to Earth, and the sound design is notable, whether it’s depicting the sounds of a tortured whale or an entire world covered in crystal fragments. The idea of Turlough having to deal with the old school is an interesting one, especially with the callbacks to his wrecking the Brigadier’s car in Mawdryn Undead and a token mention of “Hippo” Ibbotson, but that’s short-circuited by the obligatory sci-fi elements of the story.

Fun things to look out for: Peter Davison’s petulant reading of the line “They took my ship!” as the TARDIS is swallowed by living sand, Tegan both at her pushiest and at her most compassionate (even two “audio seasons” ago, I would never have imagined her taking such measures to rescue Turlough), and it has to be said that, whenever Big Finish’s writers decide that Turlough needs to regress to his cowardly/unreliable “factory state”, Mark Strickson can still play it to the hilt.