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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 audio with the TARDIS duo), ‘The Mutant Phase’ and ‘Renaissance of the Daleks’. I was purchasing and listening to these audios as I went on.
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.
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.
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.
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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