‘Winter For The Adept’ (Audio)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

The Doctor and Nyssa take a trip to the Swiss Alps in the 1960s

Oh dear! ‘Winter For The Adept’. I found this one a mixed bag I’m afraid.

This audio adventure seemed to have so many good things in it that I can’t help feel unsatisfied and disappointed by what was it was like when I heard it on first listen. Over the years I’ve grown to appreciate what ‘Winter For The Adept’ was trying to do as a story, but I can’t say this is a favourite.

This is the second in a series of Big Finish audio stories with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa, starring Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton. It’s a four-part story by Andrew Cartmel. I was surprised Andrew wrote this for the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa as he was the script editor for the Seventh Doctor and Ace.

‘Winter For The Adept’ is set in the Swiss Alps in the 1960s and takes place at a girls’ boarding school. This is a ghost story and it has some very effective moments. It’s beautifully directed and has some beautiful music in it. But certain aspects of the story didn’t hold up and didn’t meet my expectations.

Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton and Peter Jurasik in ‘Winter For The Adept’.

I’ve had the CD cover of ‘Winter For The Adept’ signed by Sarah Sutton at the ‘Valiant 2015’ convention in Sheffield, March 2015. I told Sarah at a convention in Weston-super-Mare that I didn’t like this audio much. She was okay with that, although it was a long time since she was in it in 2000.*

The reason why I found this story disappointing was because of Nyssa’s character. Nyssa is my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion, but I found her to be out of character in this one. She sounds more like Tegan, as she’s complaining; seems grumpier than usual and argues with the Doctor a lot.

I think Andrew Cartmel got mixed Nyssa mixed up with Tegan. I can appreciate what Big Finish tried to do with developing Nyssa’s character. It’s a brave experiment but I found it rather unsatisfying. The Nyssa stories in Big Finish got better in ‘Doctor Who’ with ‘Circular Time’ and ‘The Stockbridge Trilogy’ (‘Castle of Fear’; ‘The Eternal Summer’ and ‘Plague of the Daleks’).

This hasn’t to do with Sarah Sutton’s lovely performance as Nyssa in this one. Sarah had similar reservations about this story when she was interviewed for ‘Wine & Dine’ in 2000 on YouTube. Sarah was also shocked with how Nyssa was written, but I’m sure she did find it a great acting challenge.

I liked it that Nyssa gets to have a whole episode to herself at the start before the Doctor arrives. Nyssa and the Doctor do work together, despite the bitterness about the teleport accident. I liked the references to Nyssa’s latent psychic abilities from both ‘Time-Flight’ and ‘The Land of the Dead’.

Just to mention, Nyssa gets to learn how to ski in this audio adventure. Sarah shared her memories of trying to ski once to us fans at the ‘Valiant 2015’ convention in Sheffield, March 2015. She didn’t like it at all. I wonder if that’s reflected with Nyssa trying to ski in this story. Poor Sarah, love her! 😀

Peter Davison is good as the Doctor. Peter’s Doctor seems to be more ‘proactive’ than usual and has more inkling as to what’s going on. Andrew Cartmel provides a whole new interpretation on the Fifth Doctor as he turns him around and makes him less a ‘victim of fate’ as he had been in the TV series.

The guest cast are good and enjoyable to listen to. There’s Peter Jurasik as Lt. Peter Sandoz. Jurasik is well known for his appearances in ‘Babylon 5’. Sandoz is a policeman who is easily sceptical and doesn’t share the Doctor’s theories on what’s going on. He’s constantly interrupting his experiments.

India Fisher and Liz Sutherland in ‘Winter For The Adept’.

India Fisher guest stars as Peril Bellamy. India would go on to play Charley Pollard, companion to the Eighth Doctor in the Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’. I enjoyed India in her first appearance in ‘Doctor Who’. Peril is a posh and cheeky schoolgirl who wants adventure and to elope with Sandoz.

Liz Sutherland guest stars as Alison Speers, another schoolgirl. Alison is the sensible and quieter one and is friends with Peril. She’s curious and admires the Doctor and his TARDIS. I liked Alison as she’s a reassuring character and willing to help the Doctor and Nyssa to solve this strange ghost mystery.

Hannah Dickinson and Sally Faulkner in ‘Winter For The Adept’.

The school is run by Sally Faulkner as Miss Tremayne. Sally appeared in the TV story ‘The Invasion’ with Patrick Troughton. Miss Tremayne is a Scots spinster with some strong religious beliefs. She is a formidable woman and she takes her religious beliefs to an extreme which isn’t really a good thing.

Also working at the school is Hannah Dickinson as Mlle Maupassant. Maupassant is a French mistress who takes care of the girls. She looks after Nyssa when she’s taken in out of the cold and snowy mountains. Maupassant seems a nice French mistress at first. But there is a twist about her.

The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 2, there are trailers for two ‘Doctor Who’ stories called ‘The Apocalypse Element’ with Colin Baker and ‘The Fires of Vulcan’ with Sylvester McCoy. There’s also an outtake from ‘Winter For The Adept’, which you’ll have to wait for or fast forward to nine minutes at the end of the last track.

‘Winter For The Adept’ is a brave but unsatisfying experiment. I liked the Swiss Alps setting and the beautiful eerie music. But I felt the story lacked with an unsatisfying character definition of Nyssa. There are good moments, but it’s not one of the best stories to feature the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa.

*I’d like to thank Timelord007 for inspiring me to ask Sarah about her thoughts on this story.

‘Winter For The Adept’ rating – 5/10


Check out this Sarah Sutton (“Nyssa” in Doctor Who) Wine & Dine Interview 2000 video on YouTube! I love seeing this interview with Sarah, as she’s lovely to see in it!

This interview was filmed on the 19th of March 2000 and was recorded during the time that ‘Winter For The Adept’ was made. I’ve now added this video to my ‘Winter For The Adept’ review on my blog. I really enjoyed this interview with Sarah, especially as she’s my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ actress!

I suggest that you take a full hour to watch this interview video with Sarah, should you want to watch it in its entirety like me.

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4 thoughts on “‘Winter For The Adept’ (Audio)

  1. Timelord007

    Your welcome Tim, I agree with your points as Cartmel writing of Nyssa is wayyyyyyyyyy off i think he thought he was writing for Tegan.

    My theory is maybe this was written for Janet to reprise her role of Tegan but was changed to Nyssa because back then Janet didn’t want to do the audios?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tim Bradley Post author

    Thanks Timelord Simon. I was re-listening to ‘Winter For The Adept’ this week. I enjoyed re-listening to it again, and Andrew Cartmel has written an interesting story. But I still feel that Nyssa could have better written and be nicer to the Doctor. I would like the chance to re-write some of Nyssa’s lines from the original.

    I’m pleased that Sarah Sutton had similar reservations about ‘Winter For The Adept’, according to her Wine & Dine interview that’s now featured on my blog.

    That’s an interesting theory of yours, Simon. I can well believe it. If they were trying to get Janet Fielding back to play Tegan and to appear in ‘Winter For The Adept’ that would make sense. If Janet said no and they changed it back to Nyssa, BF would have been in an hurry to get this story finished before recording. But they should have really thought of Nyssa’s character as it’s completely way out of character in this one.

    Thanks Simon.

    Tim. 🙂


  3. Timelord 007

    Re-read this review as i recently re-listened to this audio, completely agree Tim the characterization of Nyssa is tonally off, I’m even more convinced now this was originally written for Tegan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Give me an opportunity to re-write ‘Winter For The Adept’ and I’m sure I would’ve written Nyssa true to her character compared to how Andrew Cartmel did it.

      Tim. 🙂



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