(ISBN 1-84435-472-6)




 In search of a cure

 for a sickness that’s

 so far claimed six

 billion lives, Nyssa

 arrives at an EMPTY

 gene-tech facility

 on the toxic planet

 Helheim. ‘Hellhole’,

 more like.


 The TARDIS has also

 been drawn to the

 Helheim base – and

 in its cobweb-coated

 corridors, NYSSA

 soon runs into the

 Doctor, Tegan and

 Turlough, her trav-

 elling companions of

 half a century past.


 But who, or what,

 has engineered this

 strange reunion? The

 answer’s here, in the



 With the Cractids.


 In the cobwebs.



 PREVIOUS                                                                                  NEXT



JULY 2010







It’s been a thrilling year for Big Finish’s monthly Doctor Who range. To date, li-steners have been treated to a new breed of companion in Tracey Childs’ iniquitous Klein; the return of fan favourites Jamie McCrimmon and Zoe Heriot; and, more recently, July the third’s “Big Finish Day” heralded the reunion of the 20th anniversary TARDIS crew, albeit with a little twist. Rather than try to shoehorn a series of adventures into a non-existent gap between Terminus and Enlightenment, Big Finish took the fascinating approach of having the Doctor, Tegan and Turlough bump into Nyssa two subjective days and fifty relative years after they left her behind on Terminus...


The seasons opening story, Cobwebs, opens with a blazing row that appears to have been raging ever since Enlightenment’s closing credits rolled, the tight continuity instantly evoking the fluid feel of the period. It’s exhilarating to hear Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson tearing chunks out of each other again, more than twenty-five years on; in the audio medium it feels so fresh and so new. Similarly, in having Sarah Sutton portraying an older Nyssa, Cobwebs is also able to explore how the character’s “sudden” maturity and wisdom impact upon the already turbulent group dynamic, whilst at the same time offering listeners something novel after almost twenty Peter Davison / Sarah Sutton releases.


© Big Finish Productions 2010. No copyright infringement is intended.


This story also plugs a significant gap in terms of Tegan and Turlough’s relationship. As Enlightenment ends, the Australian Air Hostess is spitting venom – after all, this snivelling little runt has just spent three adventures trying to kill her and her friends. By the start of The King’s Demons, however, their relationship is one of trivial distrust and almost sibling rivalry; it’s as if there has always been a page of the book missing. Well, Cobwebs is that book; or at least, the first few chapters of it. As Part 1 opens, Tegan wants Turlough off the ship, yet as Part 2 ends, she’s huddled inside it with him, to her bewilderment finding that she shares more common ground with the unscrupulous alien youth than she does with the Doctor and Nyssa. It’s beautifully and convincingly done, and Fielding and Strickson play it so very well.


Jonathan Morris’ narrative draws on sources as dive-

rse as The Andromeda Strain and Memento, but

essentially it’s The Space

Museum done properly,

populated with chilling

robotic spiders instead

of callow insurgents and

bungling bureaucrats. The first episode introduces us to the abandoned gene-tech facility on the aptly-named planet Helheim, where power-drained mechanical arachnids are spinning their final webs, and our four heroes stumble upon four skeletons wearing their clothes. The facility’s main computer, “poor Edgar”, wants the Doctor to travel back in time to avert the catastrophe that killed all the facility’s staff, but of course, he has to refuse the request. In response, Edgar activates the base’s self-destruct facility, sending the Doctor and his entourage scurrying back to the TARDIS, and there are no prizes for guessing where they materialise. Or, perhaps I should say, when.


The resultant adventure is eerie and claustrophobic, Morris fusing psychological terror with his own hi-tech branch of the macabre. This edgy feel is then exacerbated by Steve Foxon’s foreboding score, which effectively encapsulates both the play’s overt horror and that borne of the timey-wimey. As is so often the way with these things, I’m sure that many will criticise the final episode’s get-out clause, but in fairness I found it to be both surprising and clever, not to mention suitably grisly. It really shouldn’t be the case that the Doctor and his compa-nions having avoided their chilling fate prompts a shiver, but somehow Morris manages to make it so.


© Big Finish Productions 2010. No copyright infringement is intended.

“You know what cobwebs mean. Spiders...”


Perhaps the most exceptional aspect of Cobwebs though is how it manages to consistently distribute the action between the members of the largest TARDIS crew that Big Finish have ever assembled. This isn’t a “Tegan story” or a “Turlough story” or even a “Nyssa story” – it’s a story about the Doctor and his three companions pooling their respective strengths to try and get themselves out of what appears to be set in stone. As a consequence of this, the production’s supporting characters are afforded a little less “screen time” than is the norm, but in many respects this works to the production’s advantage, as both the writer and the performers have to work that little bit harder to make them shine, and shine they do - Helen Griffin and Raymond Coulthard are both especially impressive as they each tackle multiple roles, some of them self-made amnesiacs!


Looking back over the last couple of years, it’s difficult to remember when the monthly range last offered us a release that one could label standard fare. Each mini-season of stories and every anthology of one-parters has had a remarkable hook that can’t fail to set a fan’s pulse racing, and happily Cobwebs continues this trend, offering its listeners a peek through what feels like an illicit window into a bygone era.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2010


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.



For the Doctor, Tegan and Turlough, Cobwebs appears to pick up precisely from where the television serial Enlightenment left off. The earlier audio book Freakshow also appeared to be set directly after Enlightenment, however, and in that adventure Turloughs narration made it explicit that those events occurred straight after his showdown with the Black Guardian. As Cobwebs is set less than two days after the events of Terminus, we must therefore assume that the events of both Enlightenment and Freakshow took place within those two days. We have therefore placed Cobwebs (and all the Doctor, Tegan, Turlough and Nyssa stories that follow it) in between Freakshow and Enlightenment.


For Nyssa, fifty years have passed since Terminus. It is not clear whether the events of the novel Asylum have happened yet from her point of view, but those of the audio drama Circular Time: Winter have - as Nyssa will explain to Tegan in Heroes of Sontar, she has not mentioned her husband or children to the Doctor for fear of contaminating his personal timeline.

                                                                                                                       Thanks to Jason Robbins 


Unless otherwise stated, all images on this site are copyrighted to the BBC and are used solely for promotional purposes.

Doctor Who is copyright © by the BBC. No copyright infringement is intended.