‘Hexagora’ (Audio)

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‘HEXAGORA’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Tudor London on Luparis

‘Hexagora’ is the second of the ‘Lost Stories’ trilogy with the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa.

After enjoying ‘The Elite’ in the ‘Lost Stories’ trilogy, I was looking forward to hearing the next two stories. ‘Hexagora’ is quite a different story from the first one, but I enjoyed listening to it. It has a familiar historical setting on an alien planet and is about Tegan searching for an ex-boyfriend of hers.

I’ve had the CD cover of ‘Hexagora’ signed by Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton at the ‘Stars of Time Film and Comic Con 2016 @ The Tropicana’, Weston-super-Mare, August 2016. I recall chatting to Sarah about Nyssa from this story at the ‘Timey-Wimey 1’ convention in Brighton in November 2014.

This four-part story was originally conceived by Peter Ling and Hazel Adair. Peter actually worked on the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series before, as he wrote ‘The Mind Robber’ with the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe. Sadly this story by Peter and Hazel didn’t make it on the TV screen and was left in storage.

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The cast of ‘Hexagora’. From left to right: Dan Starkey, Richard Mark, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton, Jacqueline Pearce, writer Paul Finch, Toby Hadoke and Caroline Keiff.

Years later, Big Finish found this ‘lost story’ and they decided to make it into an audio adventure. Paul Finch was chosen to adapt Peter Ling and Hazel Adair’s story, since he adapted ‘Leviathan’ with the Sixth Doctor and Peri. Here he writes for Big Finish again with the Fifth Doctor; Nyssa and Tegan.

In the story, one of Tegan’s ex-boyfriends named Mike Bretherton goes missing. While in Brisbane, Tegan tells the Doctor and Nyssa this and they search for him. They end up on Luparis, a planet that looks like Tudor London. They meet Queen Zafira, who soon chooses the Doctor to be her husband.

I really enjoyed listening to this story, as Paul has written an intriguing adventure with lots of unusual concepts in it. These include an insect-like alien species taking on human form to live a new life on Luparis. It’s quite complex in itself when exposition dialogue is given, but it’s pretty intriguing.

Also the idea of an alien planet that looks like Tudor London is very appealing to me. It helps people like Sarah Sutton who recorded the story and listeners to gain a visual image to follow in the story. I like how Tegan’s boyfriend Mike Bretherton gets introduced and how he takes part in the adventure.

Writer Paul Finch with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton in ‘Hexagora’.

Peter Davison as the Doctor is pretty surprised when he gets chosen to be one of Zafira’s husbands. Peter delivers a fine performance as the Doctor in this as his youthful energy shines throughout. He shows concern for Nyssa following ‘The Elite’ and he agrees to help Tegan to find her ex-boyfriend.

I liked how the Doctor uncovers more about Luparis’ past and he shares a scientific knowledge and a respect with Astorius who reveals to him about the Hexagora. The Doctor also gets into the swing of the action of this story when he’s fighting either Lord Zellenger or Sergeant Zax in some sword fights.

Janet Fielding as Tegan gets a chance to have her character explored further in this story. I’m sure that Janet enjoys the new character development for Tegan in these audios. Tegan is immediately concerned for the disappearance of her ex-boyfriend Mike and insists that the Doctor and Nyssa help her.

Tegan gets surprised when they come to Luparis, as it looks like Tudor London to her. Her joy at seeing Mike again is short-lived, as he doesn’t recognise her and he’s really Sergeant Zax. She gets more shocked when discovering the real Mike is trapped inside an insect’s body and she can’t take it in.

Sarah Sutton as Nyssa is a joy to listen to in this audio! Nyssa is recovering from her traumatic ordeal from ‘The Elite’ as she enjoys a holiday in Brisbane. But Nyssa is willing to go and help Tegan to find her ex-boyfriend Mike. Nyssa’s aristocratic side gets explored, especially when they meet Queen Zafira.

Nyssa seems to enjoy expressing her aristocratic nature in this story, as she receives the attention of Lord Jezzavar. I really liked the references made to Traken and to Nyssa’s heritage, as they’re nice touches to her character. Sarah says Nyssa’s a snob in character terms, but I’m inclined to disagree.

A snob is someone who looks down on people and thinks that he or she is superior. Nyssa doesn’t really do that as someone like Hyacinth Bucket (‘Bouquet’ sorry) from ‘Keeping Up Appearances’ would. Nyssa cleverly uses her status to her advantage in order to help her friends during the story.

Toby Hadoke guest stars as Mike Bretherton, Tegan’s ex-boyfriend. I really liked Toby’s performance in this. Toby is well-known for his comedy stand-up shows and has contributed to ‘Doctor Who’ DVD commentaries; documentaries and a number of Big Finish audios. He’s also a huge ‘Doctor Who’ fan.

I liked how Toby plays Mike in this audio and brings the Australian accent out of him. He gets to play a former flame of Tegan’s, as Mike is a newspaper reporter who gets kidnapped in the story. Toby also guest stars as Sergeant Zax, who looks exactly like Mike but doesn’t recognise Tegan on Luparis.

Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton with Jacqueline Pearce (centred) in ‘Hexagora’.

Jacqueline Peace guest stars as Queen Zafira in this story. I was delighted to hear Jacqueline in this audio adventure. Jacqueline is well-known for playing Servalan in ‘Blake’s 7’, and she guest starred as Chessene in the ‘Doctor Who’ TV adventure, ‘The Two Doctors’, with Colin Baker and Patrick Troughton.

Queen Zafira rules Luparis with her subjects and she has two husbands called Lord Jezzavar and Lord Zellenger. She sets her sights on the Doctor when he visits Luparis and wants to marry him. Zafira is described by Tegan as gorgeous. She doesn’t marry for love, but for social standing and intelligence.

The guest cast also includes Richard Mark as Lord Jeezavar, who takes an interest in Nyssa. There’s also Dan Starkey (who plays the Sontarans on ‘Doctor Who’ for TV and audio) as Lord Zellenger who loves Zafria passionately and there’s Sean Brosnan as Astorious who seems to know about Zafira and her plans.

Just to say, I really like the comic book-like artwork for the CD sleeves of all the stories in ‘The Lost Stories’ trilogy with the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan. To see the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan’s faces with guest characters in scenes and depicting how the story would have looked for TV is so exciting.

I’ve greatly enjoyed ‘Hexagora’ with the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan. It’s not a pacey story as ‘The Elite’ is, but it’s full of intriguing ideas. I liked how Tegan’s character gets developed and how Nyssa’s aristocratic nature gets explored. It’s an enjoyable audio adventure to add to your ‘Doctor Who’ CD collection.

The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Discs 1 and 2, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew, including Peter Davison; Janet Fielding; Sarah Sutton; etc. I enjoyed hearing Janet and Sarah’s comments about what they think this story would have looked like if it was made for TV.

There’s a trailer for the next story with the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan called ‘The Children of Seth’.

‘Hexagora’ rating – 8/10


hexagora-nyssa

‘IS NYSSA SNOB OR NOT?’

I discussed this topic on the now-deceased Big Finish forum in 2015. Here, I’m re-introducing it on my review for ‘Hexagora’. I hope you’ll enjoy these thoughts by me.

Sarah Sutton stated in the CD interviews of ‘Hexagora’, one of the ‘Lost Stories’ of ‘Doctor Who’ by Big Finish, that Nyssa is a snob in character terms. This is due to her Traken heritage; status and being a lady. I disagree with Sarah on what she says on this, as I don’t believe Nyssa really is a snob.

In my opinion, a snob is someone who looks down on people and thinks that he or she is superior to everyone else. Nyssa doesn’t look down on people and no way does she think herself superior to anybody else. She’s in no way a Hyacinth Bucket (‘Bouquet’ sorry) from ‘Keeping Up Appearances’.

Also in ‘Hexagora’, Nyssa uses her Traken lady-like status to help people including her friends, the Doctor and Tegan. She cleverly uses it to expose Lord Jezzavar as a traitor out in the open and in front of Queen Zafira. This helps to prevent what’s happening with the Hexagora and their schemes.

Significantly are the friendships Nyssa forms with people like Tegan, the Doctor and Adric. Nyssa would later declare in ‘The Emerald Tiger’ that Tegan is her best friend. This does prove Nyssa isn’t a snob, since she’d want nothing to do with Tegan if she were considering their different backgrounds.

Probably her upbringing and the luxuries she had on Traken have led to the belief that Nyssa is a snob. It’s easy to see that, as she sometimes lets her status be her first reaction to things in ‘Doctor Who’ adventures. But she always lets her caring and compassionate nature override her own status.

For example, in ‘Moonflesh’, Nyssa states that she would rather go somewhere more appealing than Suffolk in 1914 when the Doctor wants to. But later on, Nyssa allows her compassion and her anti-hunting views to come forward in the company of such highly-privileged people at Whitelock Manor.

It’s been suggested that Nyssa is aware of being a snob and that if it wasn’t for the Doctor and all the bad things that happened to her, she would very snobbish indeed. Things would have been different had Nyssa never left Traken, since her character changes in the series and travel broadens the mind.

It’d be interesting if Big Finish did a ‘Doctor Who’ story in the style of ‘Turn Left’ or the Christmas film ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ where Nyssa never met the Doctor or travelled in the TARDIS. What would that have been like and would it have made Nyssa very snobbish than she was if Traken was never destroyed?

I suppose if we had the chance to see what Nyssa was like when she grew up on Traken, it would be different. But I don’t think the loss of Traken and the death of her father would have made her a snob beforehand. She’s pretty clever, but doesn’t show it off and admits she can’t know everything.

Nyssa admitted that she ‘knows so little about telebiogensis’ in ‘Castrovalva’ which is an interesting aspect to the character, due to her being an intelligent Trakenite scientist. I’m also sure that people like Nyssa who have a ladylike status wouldn’t be dismissive of other people who are lower than her.

In some of the stories, Nyssa has stated that she’s treated people who’ve had diseases before and I’m sure that must have included lower-class Traken citizens as well as higher-class. She isn’t someone who dismisses people because they’re not aristocratic like her, as she can be pretty caring.

Nyssa wants to help people who are ill, in danger or are suffering. She demonstrates this before she departed in ‘Terminus’, as she helped those who were suffering in stories like ‘Psychodrome’; ‘Spare Parts’ and ‘Doing Time’ from ‘The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories’. Not a snob there, hey?!

Nyssa of course has lived a sheltered life when she started. She was slightly naive and seemed to look down at others at first. She also didn’t understand that others lived differently than her. This could make her snobbish, especially when she doesn’t like something about a different alien culture.

It’s also been suggested that having Nyssa as a snob gives her a flaw in character terms. This is a flaw that Nyssa could have worked on and grew with from ‘The Keeper of Traken’ to ‘Terminus’. This would have allowed her to grow up from seeing wonders and horrors in her travels with the Doctor.

It is an interesting conceit therefore that Nyssa started being a privileged Traken noble in ‘The Keeper of Traken’ before becoming someone who helped people in ‘Terminus’. She considers it her duty to help those who are less privileged than her since she truly cares for what happens to them.

I like and agree that Nyssa does grow up during the ‘Doctor Who’ series and becomes less naive when travelling with the Doctor. Aspects of her character make her seem snobbish due to her Traken upbringing, but I don’t wholly agree that Nyssa is truly a snob even if she became aware of it.

Nyssa does have defects to her character that make her more interesting compared to how she appeared in the TV series. The Big Finish audios have helped to enhance Nyssa’s character and see her as more three-dimensional compared to how the writers from the TV series did for her anyway.

It’s been stated that Nyssa is a true sweetheart who sometimes struggles to shake off her upbringing, both the elitism she was taught and the effects of a sheltered life. I like this statement on Nyssa as a sweetheart, since she grows up to understand more on life and it sums it her superbly.

It’s also stated that Nyssa is not a total snob, but she has aspects of her personality that are snob-like. It makes her different to other companions like Charley Pollard, one of the Eighth Doctor’s companions on audio. Charley likewise has a similar status to Nyssa, but she isn’t a total snob either.

I think it’s also fair to say that Romana is more snobbish than Nyssa, as she showed more superiority on others easily compared to Nyssa. Again of course it doesn’t mean Romana is a bad person, as like Nyssa she’s clearly good from what I’ve seen and heard in the Mary Tamm and Lalla Ward versions.

It’s also suggested Nyssa is an aristocrat and is neither a snob or posh, though some people may feel threatened by her breeding to think she is snobbish. This is implied when people make an opinion of Nyssa such as Andrew from ‘Circular Time’ and Sadie from ‘1963: Fanfare From The Common Men’.

I’ve shared with Sarah Sutton about whether Nyssa is a snob or not at the ‘Timey-Wimey 1’ convention in Brighton, November 2014. I enjoyed chatting to Sarah about it and she’s agreed with what I’ve said. She saw my way of thinking and agreed that Nyssa was no Hyacinth Bucket (‘Bouquet’).

I was so pleased to chat to Sarah about this, as it’s helped me to ease my anxiety on my love for Nyssa and it was reassuring when discussing a character she’s played for a long time in TV and audio. It’s also sweet Sarah was concerned on how Nyssa came across in ‘Hexagora’ when she played her.

I’ve seen the ‘Doctor Who: The Ultimate Companion’ documentary with Peter Davison. The segment with Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton was very interesting, as Janet mentions that have companions need to have a likeably and flaws in their characters and Sarah mentions that this adds to the drama.

So perhaps Nyssa as a snob isn’t a bad thing, as it shows she isn’t perfect. It’s the same for all of us who do have flaws including myself, as I can be snobbish at times but unintentionally. It’s the same for Nyssa as she can be snobbish without realising it and not meaning to from her Traken upbringing.

What does everyone else think on this topic? Is Nyssa a snob or not?


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2 thoughts on “‘Hexagora’ (Audio)

  1. Excellent review Tim, I didn’t care for this on first listen but have found it more enjoyable after multiple listens.

    I did enjoy the mystery elements to this & I agree with you Nyssa isn’t a snob in fact she’s one of the most selfless companions in Doctor Who history.

    Great photos & a brilliant in-depth review mate, I’m currently in discomfort with my back got to have treated Thursday as I either trapped a nerve or pulled a muscle & reading your reviews has been a great distraction.

    I’m going to read the final chapter of The Tree Of Riverloth but part of me is a little sad because it’s been a great enjoyable adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Simon.

    Thanks for your comments. Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘Hexagora’!

    Yes, it is a story that seems rather slow in places and it does seem wordy with lots of info-dumping given about the plot by the Doctor and Astorious. But I’ve enjoyed it more and more after hearing the story more than once and I love the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan’s journeys in this, finding them very engaging.

    I’m very pleased you agree with my view that Nyssa isn’t a snob. I have chatted to Sarah Sutton about it and it was pleasant talking to her about my views on Nyssa not being a snob as she concurred with them.

    Very pleased you enjoyed the photos in my review. I do my best to make my reviews look colourful for my blog.

    I’m sorry to hear you haven’t been well lately with your back. Hope you get better and that it’ll be sorted out well on Thursday for you. I’m pleased my reviews and stories on my blog have kept you entertained.

    I’m looking forward to hearing you on my final chapter of ‘The Tree of Riverloth’. Have no fear! There will be a Christmas episode with the Doctor, Nyssa and Billy coming out in December called ‘The Ghost of Leckwick’, and there will also be a new trilogy next year from January called ‘The Salvador Trilogy’ to look out for.

    Thanks for your comments, Simon. Looking forward to hearing from you again!

    Tim. 🙂

    Like

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