‘Primeval’ (Audio)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

Traken Revisited – Saving Nyssa’s Life

Nyssa is ill and it’s up to the Doctor to save her!

This is a really good strong story for Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor and Sarah Sutton as Nyssa!

‘Primeval’ is a four-part adventure by Lance Parkin, who takes us back to a place where we thought was destroyed. The Doctor is trying to save Nyssa’s life. He can think of only one place to save her. To go to Traken in its past! The identity of Traken was a well-kept secret by Big Finish at the time in.

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Primeval’ when I heard it. I had listened to other Fifth Doctor and Nyssa audios by Big Finish with the likes of ‘Circular Time’ (my favourite Big Finish audio CD with the TARDIS duo), ‘The Mutant Phase’ and ‘Renaissance of the Daleks’. I was purchasing and listening to these audios as I went on.

Stephen Greif, Susan Penhaligon, Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton in ‘Primeval’.

A lot of questions have been answered in this audio adventure about why Nyssa fainted at the end of ‘Four to Doomsday’ and why she had to sleep during ‘Kinda’. The story is very standalone, but it links up perfectly after ‘The Mutant Phase’ (the third Fifth Doctor and Nyssa adventure by Big Finish).

The first time we saw Nyssa was on her home planet of Traken in ‘The Keeper of Traken’, one of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ TV stories with Nyssa. It had a good strong story and the sets of Traken were beautiful and brilliant. So it was very easy to visualise the settings of Traken in this audio adventure.

The world of Traken is revisited in ‘Primeval’ with the consul chambers; the grove, the gardens, Shayla’s medical practice and most importantly…the Source Chamber itself. This adventure definitely has the feel of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Harry Potter’ in it, as was intended by writer Lance Parkin.

I’ve had the CD cover of ‘Primeval’ signed by Sarah Sutton and Ian Hallard (who plays Sabian in this). Sarah signed the CD cover for me at the ‘Regenerations 2011’ convention in Swansea, September 2011. Ian signed the CD cover for me at the ‘Pandorica 2015’ convention in Bristol, September 2015.

Ian Hallard and Sarah Sutton in ‘Primeval’.

Sarah Sutton (Nyssa) is my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion. It’s been a while since Sarah made this story in 2001, but she took my word for it that it’s a cracking good story and a strong one for Nyssa. Ian Hallard remembers starring in this adventure and has fond memories working with Sarah.

Nyssa revisits her home world of Traken, a place that she thought she’d never see again. Nyssa faces an interrogation by Traken consul members and is uncomfortable with answering questions about where she’s been. This is similar to new series TV companions like Rose Tyler who deal with coming home.

Nyssa gets to do so much in this audio adventure, despite being ill in the first two episodes. She gets to enjoy a hot bath to cure herself of her illness, teaches Sabian (the man who looks after her on Traken) how to do the Charleston dance and she gets to shoot Anona with a gun on the stun setting.

I liked Nyssa’s scenes with Sabian. They seemed to get on well with each other during the story. I liked it when Nyssa shows concern for Sabian with him looking after her all day and when she persuades him to join her in the spa to keep her company. It’s a sweet friendship between the two.

The cast of ‘Primeval’. From left to right: Stephen Greif, Mark Woolgar, Susan Penhaligon, Sarah Sutton, Peter Davison, Romy Tennant, Rita Davies, Ian Hallard and Billy Miller.

I enjoyed it when Nyssa defied the Traken consuls during her interrogation by them. She calls Consul Janneus ‘a superstitious savage’ when the consuls fear her illness is infectious and she defends the Doctor against the consuls. I liked it when Nyssa challenges Consul Hyrca’s logic for being ‘ridiculous’.

Nyssa also gets to wear a swim-suit in this. I can imagine Nyssa looking glamorous in her swim suit for this adventure. It’s Nyssa’s ‘Planet of Fire’ moment. I also loved Nyssa’s side-lines about ‘barely concealing herself’ and the comedy banter between her and the Doctor in ‘Parts Three and Four’.

Peter Davison excels as the Doctor in this adventure. His youthfulness, compassion and energy shine throughout. He’s determined to save Nyssa’s life and goes to great lengths to find a cure with Shayla’s help as they visit Kwundaar. His resourcefulness in solving problems is well depicted here.

I loved the Doctor’s scenes with Nyssa at the beginning when he tries to explain to her that they’re on Traken in its past. The Doctor’s scenes with the consuls in the consul chamber are very well-written. He tries to bear the consuls’ silly interrogation on him when he’s answering their questions.

Susan Penhaligon guests stars as Shayla and is a really nice character. Shayla is the Trakenite physician who helps to save Nyssa. She joins the Doctor to find Kwundaar on his spaceship. There’s a twist with Shayla at the end of this story which was very surprising. I won’t reveal it to avoid spoilers.

Stephen Greif (of ‘Blake’s 7’ fame) guest stars as the villainous Kwundaar. He’s a great ‘Doctor Who’ villain as Stephen’s performance is chilling and frightening. I wondered who Kwundaar was when listening to this as I initially thought he was the Master first. Kwundaar’s origins are very interesting.

Romy Tennant and Billy Miller in ‘Primeval’.

The crew aboard Kwundaar’s ship are as follows. There’s Romy Tennant as Anona and Billy Miller as Narthax. Anona is a teenage girl who hates the Traken union greatly and is the opposite of Nyssa. Narthax is the captain of Kwundaar’s ship who’s tortured in serving Kwundaar to protect his family.

There’s also Ian Hallard as Sabian, Shayla’s assistant, who looks after Nyssa on Traken. He’s like Shayla’s companion compared to Nyssa who is the Doctor’s companion. He’d rather stay on Traken, but is determined to look after Nyssa. I found it sweet when he asks Nyssa if she wants his company.

The Traken consuls are as follows. There’s Mark Woolgar as Hyrca and Rita Davies as Janneus. They’re similar to the consuls from ‘The Keeper of Traken’, but are very superstitious and cowardly. They know a lot about Kwundaar, although they pathetically submit to him at the end of the story.

The sound design and music of ‘Primeval’ is very enchanting, creepy and beautiful to listen to. It brings the world of Traken in this story to life. I could easily imagine the world of Traken in my mind.

The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 2, there’s a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘The One Doctor’ with Colin Baker and Bonnie Langford.

‘Primeval’ is an excellent audio adventure for the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa. Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton are getting to enjoy the development of their characters and relationships by this point. The decision to have Nyssa carry on travelling with the Doctor means more stories to enjoy by Big Finish.

‘Primeval’ rating – 10/10

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7 thoughts on “‘Primeval’ (Audio)

  1. Glynn Mcknight

    Agree with you Tim , Primeval is one of my favourite early big finishes. The story and performances are very strong and the music conjures up images of the beautiful set design of The keeper of Traken.
    All in all a wonderful Nyssa and 5th doctor story.
    Keep up the good work it’s much appreciated,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tim Bradley Post author

    Hi Glynn.
    Good to hear from you! Thank you for your kind comments on my review on ‘Primeval’.

    Very pleased you agree with what I said in my review. I’m glad that ‘Primeval’ is one of your favourite Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’. I certainly enjoyed the performances of the cast including Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton. I’m pleased you found the music helped you to visualize the world of Traken in the story as it did for me.

    Thanks again for your kind comments. I look forward to hearing from you again on my Fifth Doctor and Nyssa reviews.

    Thanks Glynn.

    Tim. 🙂


  3. Timelord007

    Awesome review of a outstanding fifth Doctor & Nyssa audio drama, i hope Lance Parkin returns to the Big Finish universe one day as he’s written some great story’s like this one.

    Primeval is definitely in my top 3 favourite fifth Doctor audio dramas.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tim Bradley Post author

    Thanks Timelord Simon. I’m pleased you enjoyed my review on ‘Primeval’ with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa.

    Yes it would be nice if Lance Parkin should return to write for ‘Doctor Who’ in Big Finish someday. I hope he’s allowed permission for his book ‘Cold Fusion’ to be on audio as that would be nice to hear with the Fifth Doctor; Tegan; Adric; Nyssa; Seventh Doctor; Chris and Roz.

    As ‘Primeval’ is one of your favourite top 3 Fifth Doctor audio dramas, which ones are the other two then, Simon?

    Many thanks for your comments, Simon. I enjoyed reading them. Glad you’ve enjoyed my latest reviews.

    Tim. 🙂


  5. Timelord 007

    Re-read your review as I just finished relistening to it, superb review Tim you summarized this story brilliantly, one of the best Fifth Doctor & Nyssa stories ever in my opinion & no disrespect to Janet Felding as Tegan but for me it Nyssa who works best with the Fifth Doctor & should’ve stayed till season 21 because her character enjoyed travelling with the Doctor, I’d had Tegan leave post Snakedance as she moaned continuously about wanting go home.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon.

      Yeah I would’ve had Nyssa stay on as the Fifth Doctor’s companion right up to the end of his run in Season 21 rather than have Tegan stay on for most of his tenure. Agreed, no disrespect to Janet Fielding, but Tegan tended to moan a lot and I didn’t think that was the right attitude for a ‘Doctor Who’ companion.

      I write my Fifth Doctor stories to provide what could possibly be an alternative version of the Fifth Doctor era with the Fifth Doctor joined by companions like Nyssa and Billy who wanted to be in the TARDIS. Although I still keep the continuity of the series in mind for my fan-fiction series, it would be nice if the Fifth Doctor finished with Nyssa and Billy rather than with Tegan and Turlough and eventually Peri in Season 21. 😀

      Anyway, very pleased you enjoyed my review on ‘Primeval’ again. It is one of the best Fifth Doctor and Nyssa stories and I’m glad to have it heard it.

      Tim. 🙂



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