THIS STORY TAKES
NOVEL "CAT'S CRADLE:
TIME'S CRUCIBLE" AND
DRAMA "CRIME OF THE
BIG FINISH 'THE LOST
RELEASED IN APRIL
Moscow 1967. The
Doctor and Ace have
arrived behind the
Iron Curtain, and the
Soviet Union is seeking
a weapon that will
give it mastery in the
What is the secret of
the Martian relics?
As the legendary War
Lord Sezhyr returns
to life, the Doctor is
faced with some of his
oldest and deadliest
The fate of Earth and
the future of Ace are
The term Lost Stories is an exceedingly broad one. As we’ve seen from recent Big Finish releases under the banner, it is capable of encompassing anything from the pilot of
an aborted American spin-off series to a script rapidly rattled off by a writer to demonstrate his skill to would-be employers. When I think of Lost Stories though, my mind is inevitably drawn towards the sort of scripts that sparked the Big Finish range; fabled adventures such as The Nightmare Fair and Mission to Magnus that were abandoned not because some-thing better or cheaper came along, but because the series itself had become lost. You can imagine my delight, then, when Big Finish announced that David Richardson’s team would be excavating the scripts and synopses that would have probably become Doctor Who’s twenty-seventh season, but for Peter Cregeen and his big red rubber stamp.
Above: Graphic designer Rob Hammond helps us to picture the season that never was in Endgame
As was the case with many of the sixth Doctor Lost Stories adapted, the broad strokes of the stories planned for Season 27 are quite well-known amongst fans of the series. Much has been written about them over the years, and four years ago the DVD feature Endgame even offered us snapshots of what these stories might have looked like had they gone into production, thanks to the attractive artwork of Rob Hammond. Probably the best-known of these stories is what was, for a long time, known as “Ice Time” – a Marc Platt script set in the 1960s that would have heralded the return of the Martian Ice Warriors and, more notably, written Sophie Aldred’s Ace out of the series by making her the first non-Gallifreyan Time Lady. Ice Time was reportedly mooted for the second slot of the season, falling between Earth Aid and the third serial, which would have introduced Ace’s replacement, who, in a rare instance of classic series intra-serial linkage, would have been born during the course of Ice Time.
Despite being re-titled Thin Ice and bumped up to Lost Stories season premiere, Platt’s script does not appear to have changed too much over the years. Its Ice Warriors are still present and correct, and as promised they find themselves in a deliciously apt Cold War setting. Meanwhile, Raine Creevy sets two records in her first appearance, becoming the youngest companion ever to have been introduced as well as the only companion to have been delivered by the Doctor. Even the culmination of Ace’s original story arc hasn’t been sullied too much, as here the Doctor finally brings his great plan for her to fruition, drafting
in an academic examiner from Gallifrey to assess her performance during the Ice Warrior crisis with a view to getting her into the Academy and shaking up his stiff-necked peers.
The narrative is split
between Moscow and
London, and concerns
a Soviet attempt to turn
the tide of the Cold War
by creating Martian /
human hybrids. Joining
forces with small-time
cockney crook Markus
Creevy and his Russian
paramour Raina Keren-
skaya, the Doctor must allow Ace to solve the mystery of the Martian relics without interfering
at all – not the easiest task for the most manipulative of Doctors. I can’t commend enough the performances of Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred here, who despite having worked together on countless occasions since Survival seem to have slipped effortlessly back into their ‘early days’ dynamic. I could vividly picture each and every one of the rows heard here, McCoy gestating wildly as he pleads and justifies; Ace’s Nitro-Nine threatening to spill out
of her rucksack with every jack-booted tantrum thrown.
Above: Alex Mallinson’s glorious CD centrefold
The production is beautifully redolent of the classic series’ latter days. Simon Robinson’s sound design reflects the writer’s Italian Job influence, yet without departing too much from the prevailing ‘Mark Ayres’ radiophonic feel. The result sounds like a strange cross between Paradise Towers and The Pink Panther which, believe it or not, feels rather apposite. Alex Mallinson has also excelled himself once again with the artwork: his cover illustration may be a little unassuming, but the comic-style centrefold in the CD booklet is absolutely glorious, providing the listener with visual references for some of the story’s main locations and even one or two of its most potent images - the Martian-headed biker stands out especially.
Over the years, fandom has labelled many a batch of novels or audio dramas ‘Season 27’, and some even refer to Christopher Eccleston’s televised series as such. For me, however, these four audio dramas are the only stories that can claim reasonably lay claim to that title, and with Thin Ice, they’re off to a start that’s anything but slippery.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2011
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
Had this story been made for television, it would have been Sophie Aldred’s last, as Ace would have been accepted into the Gallifreyan Academy. The continuity implications of this are avoided here by the writer simply having the Academy turn her down, which the Doctor covers by saying that he doesn’t want her to leave him. The Academy issue would be discussed by the characters again in the novel Lungbarrow, also written by Marc Platt, and it also forms a major subplot in the off-canon webcast Death Comes to Time.
Authorial intention would place Thin Ice, and the three Lost Stories that follow it, shortly after Survival, and thus prior to the Doctor and Ace’s adventures with Hex and Bernice. This fits with the Doctor reportedly not having delivered a baby before (he will later deliver one in The Settling), however, given the propinquity of Survival and Timewyrm: Genesys, and particularly Ace’s significant character development in this story, we feel that these Lost Stories fall best between Cat’s Cradle: Time’s Crucible and The Fearmonger. We have placed them accordingly.
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