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Vampires with the Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric
‘Zaltys’ has been one great enjoyable, thrilling adventure with the Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric!
It’s the third adventure of the 2017 trilogy with the Fifth Doctor team from Season 19. I really enjoyed the latest Big Finish audios with Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding and Matthew Waterhouse. I was so sad this trilogy ended and hoped there would be more with this TARDIS team!
I’ve now had the CD cover of ‘Zaltys’ signed by Peter Davison at the ‘GEEKS Salisbury Comic Con’ in July 2017; by Janet Fielding at the ‘MCM Birmingham Comic Con’ in November 2017; and by Sarah Sutton and Matthew Waterhouse at ‘The Capitol II’ convention at the Arora Hotel, Gatwick in May 2017. I’m lucky to have met my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ actors at conventions!
‘Zaltys’ is a four-part adventure by Matthew J. Elliot, who is new to writing for this Fifth Doctor TARDIS team. I enjoyed Matthew’s take on the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric in this adventure. He’s clearly a ‘Doctor Who’ fan, since I found many continuity references featured in this.
As well as many references to Fifth Doctor stories like ‘Castrovalva’ and ‘Four To Doomsday’, there are also references to ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’, ‘Doctor Who and the Silurians’ and ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’. They seem to be minor references, but I enjoyed hearing them as the story progressed.
The story is set on the alien planet of Zaltys itself. It starts when Adric tries to pilot the TARDIS to take Tegan back home to Heathrow Airport on Earth 1981. But things go wrong when Adric gets snatched out of the TARDIS and so does Tegan. The Doctor and Nyssa have to find and rescue them.
I really liked the opening scenes in the TARDIS where Adric is reading the book, ‘Dracula’, and Tegan interrupts him. I also liked it when Nyssa is with the Doctor most of the time in this story, as they both start making repairs to the TARDIS and also when they go to rescue Adric and Tegan on Zaltys.
I was pretty surprised by the revelations that this story offered. For example, Tegan discovers that the monsters are…oh my goodness, they’re vampires! This is way before Nyssa becomes a vampire in ‘Goth Opera’! I enjoyed those references with Adric’s encounter with vampires in ‘State of Decay’.
I enjoyed the performances of the cast in this story. The director Barnaby Edwards, who has directed all three stories in this 2017 Fifth Doctor trilogy (including ‘The Star Men’, ‘The Contingency Club’ and ‘Zaltys’) casts well in this audio tale. He does appreciate and understands actors and characters.
Peter Davison excels as the Fifth Doctor in this audio adventure. I like how Peter’s Doctor becomes anxious for Tegan and Adric’s whereabouts, as he and Nyssa journey to Zaltys in order to find out where they are. Things get tense when they run into Sable and when entering into the Zaltys facility.
The Doctor discovers the truth about what this impending disaster about a meteor heading for Zaltys is. He discovers that it’s actually the spaceship Exemplar containing an army of vampires aboard. The Doctor is horrified by what he’s discovered and Peter Davison expresses that anxiety superbly here.
An interesting point to mention is that these vampires led by Clairmonde have met the Doctor before. Apparently the Third Doctor and Jo Grant faced these vampires on the planet Sekhmet. Like with ‘Timelash’, it’s another Third Doctor and Jo Grant story that gets referred to but is never documented.
Sarah Sutton is lovely as Nyssa in this audio adventure. This may seem like a standard Nyssa appearance in a crowded TARDIS story from Season 19 where she gets nothing to do. But in actual fact, this story sets up a trait of Nyssa’s character which gets firmly established early on in the series.
That trait of course is Nyssa’s latent telepathic abilities. I liked it that Nyssa realises she has latent telepathic abilities in this story before discovering them in ‘Time-Flight’. There’s tense scenes towards the end of the story where Gevaudan uses Nyssa as an amplifier and defeat the vampires, which really hurts.
I liked how Nyssa gets to experience the pain and rage caused between Gevaudan and Clairmonde in those scenes, since Sarah plays those scenes extremely well. The Doctor is concerned for Nyssa’s well-being. He tells Gevaudan to stop whatever he’s doing as he’s afraid the feedback will kill Nyssa.
Janet Fielding is great as Tegan. She gets to be rather naughty in this story, especially when she persuades Adric to get her back to Heathrow Airport on Earth in 1981. Tegan has her own adventure away from the Doctor, Nyssa and Adric, when she’s abducted and finds herself on the vampire ship.
Tegan becomes scared when she’s being taunted and hunted by Clarimonde. She doesn’t understand what’s going on before she discovers the truth at the end of ‘Part Two’. I liked it when Tegan meets with Lusca in ‘Part Three’ and how she defeats Sable back at the TARDIS in ‘Part Four’.
Matthew Waterhouse is very good as Adric in this story. Like Tegan, Adric gets to have his own adventure for a while when he’s inside the facility on Zaltys. He tries to gain access to a computer and tries to act like Perrault with a cold, which was amusing. He’s captured by Gevaudan in the tale.
It was tense when Adric was threatened with a gun by Talia before he was saved by Nyssa and Sable. Adric re-joins Nyssa and Sable when they escape. I liked those moments when Adric defied Sable to give the Doctor’s TARDIS to her, while she threatened to shoot Nyssa and Tegan dead in the process.
Niamh Cusack guest stars as the villainous Clairmonde in this story. For me, Niamh Cusack guest starred in Series 2, Episode Six of ‘Jeeves & Wooster’ as well as starring in ‘4.50 From Paddington’ with Geraldine McEwan. I liked that balance of Niamh Cusack’s playful menace in her villainous role.
Rebecca Root guest stars as the cynical and not so nice Sable in this story. Sable is one of those characters where you think she might end up being a comic character. But it turns out she’s far more dangerous and ruthless than she seems, and it made me want to throw Sable down onto the ground.
Sean Barrett guest stars as Perrault, a soft-spoken and warm leader of a small scientific team in the Zaltys facility. I didn’t take much interest in Perrault at first, since he seemed rather mild-mannered and uninteresting. But as the story progressed, the Doctor realised Perrault wasn’t what he seemed.
Philip Franks guest stars as Gevaudan, a gruff but cultured and gentle wolf-being called a Vulpine. There’s an image of Gevaudan on the front cover and he reminds me of a Wookie from ‘Star Wars’. Gevaudan is actually a telepath since he is able to sense thoughts of others such as Nyssa and Adric.
There’s also Alix Wilton Regan who plays Lusca, a gentle amphibian-like alien creature, who survives in water. She meets up with Tegan and helps her to escape the vampire ship. She has a croaky voice as she struggles to survive without water. Alix Wilton Regan also plays Siobhan who abandons Sable.
There’s also Carol Sloman, the daughter of ‘Doctor Who’ writer Robert Sloman, who plays Talia, an icy scientist with an inbred dislike of aliens. It’s interesting to hear how the natives of Zaltys are brought up to be prejudiced against aliens. Talia’s scenes were quite disturbing and intense to hear.
I liked that last scene in the TARDIS where the four heroes are back together. It was nice to hear the Doctor and Nyssa talk about her new-found psychic abilities, foreshadowing future stories. It was also nice to have the story end between Adric and the Doctor when the TARDIS seems very crowded.
‘Zaltys’ has been an enjoyable adventure with this Fifth Doctor TARDIS team from Season 19. I was saddened the 2017 trilogy with the Fifth Doctor and Season 19 team came to an end. I really enjoyed the Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric in these latest Big Finish audio stories. I do look forward to more!
The CD extras are as follows. On Disc 1, there are two tracks of incidental music to enjoy. On Disc 2, there is a trailer for ‘Alien Heart’/‘Dalek Soul’ with Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton. There are also behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew, including Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding, Matthew Waterhouse, Niamh Cusack, Rebecca Root, director Barnaby Edwards, etc.
I was surprised to hear, according to CD interviews, Sarah Sutton found this story easy to visualise whilst making it. This is unusual, considering Sarah prefers historical earthbound stories compared to the outer space ones. Sarah and Janet Fielding commented this audio would make a great movie! 😀
If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘Zaltys’ via a 6 or 12 CD/Download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There is a PDF script and extended extras of ‘Zaltys’. There’s also a bonus Short Trip audio called ‘Collector’s Item’ with the Fourth Doctor, read by Stephen Critchlow.
‘Zaltys’ rating – 9/10
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