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Nyssa reunites with the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough
‘Cobwebs’ is the first of a new series of ‘Doctor Who’ adventures by Big Finish!
The Fifth Doctor is reunited with his companions Tegan, Turlough and Nyssa in this audio adventure. The foursome becomes the new TARDIS team, as they embark on new exciting adventures in time and space. This four-part adventure by Jonathan Morris starts the new series with this TARDIS team.
Mark Strickson, who was recording one of the Companion Chronicles as Turlough, suggested to Big Finish about reuniting the 1980s TARDIS team that included himself, Peter Davison; Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding. All four, including Janet, agreed to take part with recording these new audio dramas.
When I heard the news about this new TARDIS team set-up with the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Turlough, I was initially excited. After enjoying the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa audios from Big Finish and having watched ‘The Black Guardian Trilogy’ on DVD, I could not wait to listen to these new dramas.
I did wonder where and when these new audio stories would take place. I initially thought they would take place between ‘Mawdryn Undead’ and ‘Terminus’. I managed to see the CD cover for ‘Cobwebs’ beforehand online. I was shocked to see Nyssa was older than the Doctor, Tegan and Turlough.
I was like “No! They can’t make Nyssa old! Nyssa’s young, beautiful and sweet! I want her to stay that way!” I didn’t like the idea of Nyssa being older and wasn’t sure I’d like this new TARDIS team set-up. I then thought these stories would take place during Season 21 after Nyssa left the TARDIS.
In July 2010, I had ‘Cobwebs’ in the post. I listened to it and thoroughly enjoyed it. Apparently this story is set between ‘Enlightenment’ and ‘The King’s Demons’ from the Doctor’s perspective, two days later. For Nyssa though, it’s fifty years since she left the TARDIS. Wibbly-wobbly; timey-wimey!
I liked how writer Jonathan Morris manages to set up and reintroduce Nyssa in the series with the Doctor, Tegan and Turlough and putting the team back together again. It would take some time for me to get used to the idea of Nyssa being older, but Sarah still sounds lovely and unchanged in her voice.
Nyssa, who is now 70 years old, is on a mission to find a cure for a disease called Richter’s Syndrome. She travels to the planet Helheim in her spaceship and is joined by her pet robot Loki. She finds a gene-tech facility and soon reunites with the Doctor, Tegan and Turlough who also come to Helheim.
I’ve had the CD cover of ‘Cobwebs’ signed by Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton at the ‘York Unleashed’ event at the York Racecourse, York, August 2017. I enjoyed chatting to Peter and Sarah and sharing my thoughts on how I wondered this new series of ‘Doctor Who’ audios would turn out.
The highlight for me is Sarah Sutton as Nyssa. I’ve met Sarah many times at conventions and she told me about these new stories at my first ‘Doctor Who’ convention, ‘Fifth Element’ in Chiswick, London, February 2010. Sarah plays an older Nyssa in this, who is now a well-regarded scientist on Terminus.
This story, for Nyssa, is set after ‘The Darkening Eye’ and ‘Circular Time: Winter’. Nyssa is still the same person we know and love. She’s gentle; kind; compassionate and intelligent. But she’s more experienced in years; has been through a lot and is the calming link for the Doctor, Tegan and Turlough.
This was the first time that I heard Janet Fielding as Tegan in a Big Finish audio adventure. I liked how the story opens with Tegan arguing with the Doctor about Turlough, since she doesn’t trust him after what happened during ‘The Black Guardian Trilogy’. Tegan can’t seem to stand Turlough at first.
I enjoyed it when they arrive on Helheim and the Doctor tells Tegan to try not to scream before she sees a maintenance spider and she shudders. Tegan is delighted when Nyssa returns, but doesn’t like what’s going on since they’re a part of Helheim’s past. Tegan does argue with the Doctor a lot in this.
It was great to listen to Mark Strickson as Turlough in this audio drama. It’s not been long since he was freed from the Black Guardian’s influence following ‘Enlightenment’. But Turlough is still a pretty shifty character and he’s rather unpredictable. He isn’t willing to share with Tegan about his past life.
Turlough is keen to reacquaint himself with Nyssa, since they didn’t spend so much time together. It’s not long after Nyssa left the TARDIS when he arrived in ‘Mawdryn Undead’. It is going to be interesting to see how the older Nyssa and Turlough interact with each other in this series of stories.
And of course there’s Peter Davison who is wonderful as the Doctor. This is the first in a long time that Peter has been reunited with Janet, Sarah and Mark as his three companions in ‘Doctor Who’. It’s going to be an interesting ride in this brand new chapter of audio stories in the Fifth Doctor’s life.
I liked how Peter’s Doctor gets curious as to why the TARDIS was dragged to the planet Helheim. He’s delighted to be reunited with Nyssa, but he doesn’t have time to catch up with her when he and his friends are swept into the adventure. He finds it difficult to cope when Tegan is arguing with him.
The guest cast are as follows. There’s Helen Griffin (from ‘Rise of the Cybermen’/’The Age of Steel’) as Director Cardell, Adrian Lukis (from the 1995 BBC production of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘The Children of Seth’) as Enforcement Officer Bragg and there’s Charlotte Lucas as Bio Technician Valis.
In this, Nyssa has a pet robot called Loki, voiced by Raymond Coulthard. Loki looks impressive in the CD sleeve notes, looking like Kamelion from the Doctor’s future. He’s a nervous soul and over-cautious for Nyssa’s liking with his defence settings. Nyssa thinks Loki should be on a lower setting.
Raymond Coulthard also voices the computer called Edgar on Helheim. Edgar seems to know the Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Turlough are already when they visit and he has a personality complex. The voice for Edgar is creepy and eerie compared to Loki and Raymond voices both roles well in this.
This story is pretty complex with lots of timey-wimey elements involved. But it’s pretty well-structured with some exciting cliff-hanger moments. I admit though I did get lost part-way through ‘Part Three’ and that required me to give this another listen, as I lost some of the points from early on.
The monsters for this adventure are the Cractids. The Cractids are crustacean-like monsters who are the indigenous form of life on the planet Helheim. They form part of the cure for Richter’s Syndrome, though they are pretty lethal. There are also the maintenance spider robots on Helheim in this story.
At the end of the story, Nyssa asks the Doctor to take her back home. She’s determined to take the cure back home and treat the worlds that are infected with Richter’s Syndrome. But it is going to be a while for Nyssa to get back home, as the TARDIS takes this new team on some exciting adventures.
‘Cobwebs’ is a great opening story for this new series of audio adventures with the Fifth Doctor, Tegan, Turlough and the older Nyssa. I had my doubts about this new TARDIS team and the older Nyssa. But I was determined to plough on; listen to more audios and to find out what they were like.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there’s a suite of incidental music to enjoy. At the end of Disc 2, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew including Peter Davison and Janet Fielding; Sarah Sutton and Mark Strickson; writer Jonathan Morris; executive producer Nicholas Briggs; etc.
If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘Cobwebs’ via a 6 or 12 CD/Download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There is a PDF script and extended extras of ‘Cobwebs’. On Disc 1, there’s a trailer for next story with the Doctor, Tegan, Turlough and Nyssa called ‘The Whispering Forest’.
‘Cobwebs’ rating – 7/10
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For the Fifth Doctor was
For Tegan was
For Turlough was
For Nyssa was
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For the Fifth Doctor is
For Tegan is
For Turlough is
For Nyssa is
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