(ISBN 1-84435-094-0)





 What is... the Axis?


 For The Doctor and

 his travelling

 companions, Peri and

 Erimem, it's a twisted

 playground, where

 reality, morality and

 sanity no longer

 apply. Stranded

 within a dimensional

 nexus, beset by the

 molten fury of the

 Firedbreed, they must

 unwrap a terrifying

 mystery of damaged

 timelines and dark

 science... before the

 corruption of the

 Axis spreads and

 reality itself



 Pitted against a

 warped and deadly

 mind, The Doctor

 faces his own past

 transgressions, and

 the very nature of

 what it is to be a Time



 PREVIOUS                                                                                  NEXT



The Axis of Insanity

APRIL 2004







It has been a long time since we last caught up with the fifth Doctor’s interim adventures between “Planet of Fire” and “The Caves of Androzani”, though after an outing like “Nekromanteia” one could be forgiven for thinking that such a delay was most probably for the best! Thankfully though, Simon Furman’s “Axis of Insanity” sees a real return to form for the highly likeable team of Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant and Caroline Morris.


As I write this I have three Transformers sat on the shelf, a few potentially lucrative mementos from my childhood. I will make a concerted effort though not to let my affection for Optimus Prime, Hot Rod, and Ultra Magnus influence my review of Transformers’ maestro Simon Furman’s first Doctor Who audio play too much...


Verity Lambert and her original Doctor Who production team would have referred to this one as a ‘sideways’ story. It is not overtly futuristic, nor is it a historical – it is something else. Furman’s story is set in one of those places outside time like the Celestial Toy Room or the Land of Fiction, only this time, this strange place is not the creation of a mad Toymaker of the even the Gods of Ragnorok. The Axis, it seems, was created by the Time Lords to prevent alternate timelines (the kind of timeline where you might find Richard E Grant’s Doctor, perhaps?) from ‘contaminating’ the primary time line. This is an interesting enough premise in itself, but where “The Axis of Insanity” really triumphs is in the execution of the idea.


The villain of the piece is downright superb – the Jester / Jarra To or whatever you want to call this abomination is probably the closest the Doctor will ever get to squaring off against the Joker unless the TARDIS flies out of the Axis the wrong way and winds up in Gotham City. Liza Ross is good as the scientist Jarra To, as the real person behind the monster, but it is Garrick Hagon’s energetic and manic performance as the Jester that really makes the story work. It is often the case (both in Doctor Who and in other fiction) that clowns and jesters frighten people, and Hagon’s character here encapsulates everything that is so terrifying about these fears. The split personality, the ruthlessness, the cruelty… the sheer madness. At times, “The Axis of Insanity” is absolutely terrifying.


However, for a story released so soon after “Zagreus”, there is much here that feels familiar and it does detract from the story somewhat. The Alice in Wonderland references as well

as the strange, out-of-time setting both reminded me of the anniversary special, with

Erimem in the Charley role here.


Further, Furman’s story is plotted perhaps a little too obviously for many people’s tastes,

and his pacing is questionable at best. Even so though, “The Axis of Insanity” has some bizarre, intangible quality about it that really makes it work. It is ironic really, that in his travels through a new, divergent universe the eighth Doctor has not come across anything quite as different as the Axis… I really cannot fathom why this story was not swapped around with, say, “The Twilight Kingdom” or “The Natural History of Fear” – it would have made far more sense in my view.


On a final note, I feel that I should point out that I really enjoyed the final scene. The lovely idea of a TARDIS graveyard was introduced back in “Omega”, and to actually visit it at the end of this play serves as a very real, very powerful and really quite emotional coda to an otherwise fantastical and surreal story.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006


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

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.