THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
BIG FINISH AUDIO
DRAMAS "THE LAND OF
THE DEAD" AND "THE
BIG FINISH CD#10
RELEASED IN JULY 2000.
WHEN A TELEPORTATION
badly wrong, Nyssa
stranded on the
freezing slopes of the
Swiss Alps in 1963.
But is it mere
coincidence that she
finds shelter in a
haunted by a
A staggering improvement upon the fifth Doctor and Nyssa’s first adventure together on audio, “Winter For The Adept” is a rare example of an Andrew Cartmel story that does not feature the seventh Doctor. In fact, after reading all Cartmel’s Doctor Who novels I was surprised at just how different this play feels when contrasted with his previous work. Free of the social comment inherent to his New Adventures trilogy, and free of the dark and manipulative side of the Doctor’s persona, here Cartmel does something that he never
really managed to do even during his reign as the series’ script editor – tell a good old fashioned Doctor Who story, as he pitched it: “St. Trinian’s with witches.”
Like “The Land of the Dead” before it, this story is set in a snowy and isolated locale – the Swiss Alps – but it differs from its predecessor in that “Winter For The Adept” has at least the semblance of an interesting plot. It may have all stemmed from an idea for a title rather than an idea for a story, but you can certainly tell that it was not written in a week!
The play is bookended by two of one of the character’s diary entries, looking back at a time her life when she met the Doctor, which really helps to set the scene in style. All of Cartmel’s characters work well within the plot - Sally Faulkner is an immediate presence as Miss Tremeyne, and the deceptively sweet tones of Hannah Dickinson’s Mademoiselle Maupassant really evoke the atmosphere of the Swiss setting and the all-girls school.
This spooky poltergeist story, full of twists and turns throughout, is also notable for marking India Fisher’s first Doctor Who appearance as the cheeky ‘adept’ Peril. Fisher would of course go on to play the eighth Doctor’s popular companion Charley Pollard shortly after recording this story.
All told, “Winter For The Adept” is a massive improvement upon “The Land of the Dead”, but still shows that the fifth Doctor audios still have a long way to go if they are to get to the same high standard as the Colin Baker / Maggie Stables plays. Having aliens named something other than ‘Spillagers’ might have been a good place to start… for the first couple of episodes I was under the (perhaps deliberate) impression that the Doctor was tracking spillages of something!
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
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