‘THE DOOMSDAY CONTRACT’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The John Lloyd ‘Doctor Who’ Story That Never Got Made Into a TV Adventure
A shame ‘The Doomsday Contract’ never saw the light of day to be shown on TV. 😦
In 1979, Douglas Adams, who was ‘Doctor Who’s script editor at the time, invited his fellow writer and producer partner John Lloyd to pen a ‘Doctor Who’ adventure to be shown in Season 17. Although John Lloyd provided a story treatment, he was busy with other commitments at the time.
John Lloyd is well-known for working on ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ with Douglas Adams, both on TV and radio. He’s also produced BBC comedies like ‘Not the Nine O’Clock News’, ‘Spitting Image’ and ‘Blackadder’. It was so interesting to check out this ‘Doctor Who’ story conceived by him.
‘The Doomsday Contract’ contains elements of John Lloyd’s unproduced novel called ‘GiGax’. It also had the working title of ‘Shylock’ of all things. Or perhaps it was called ‘Mrs. Shylock’, according to Eric Morecambe. 😀 Joking aside, John Lloyd gave permission to Allan Prior to write up the scripts. 😐
Allan Prior, who was also a writer, wrote episodes of ‘Blake’s 7’. Unfortunately, his scripts for John Lloyd’s ‘The Doomsday Contract’ were rejected. Thus the story was eventually cancelled, which is a shame, considering it would’ve fitted Douglas Adams’ tone and vision for ‘Doctor Who’ in Season 17.
Thankfully, many years later, Big Finish sought to resurrect John Lloyd’s ‘The Doomsday’s Contract’ and turn it into a Big Finish audio drama. As far as I’m concerned, another ‘Doctor Who’ story with a Douglas Adams era-atmosphere is welcome for me. From hearing this audio story, it clearly has that.
I would’ve expected a writer like Jonathan Morris, John Dorney or Gareth Roberts (though not in his case considering his reputation has been tarnished lately 😦 ) to adapt John Lloyd’s ‘Doomsday Contract’ scripts into an audio adventure. But no, it’s Nev Fountain who adapted the scripts instead.
And that’s fine! I like Nev Fountain as a ‘Doctor Who’ writer and he’s known for writing some very comedic ‘Doctor Who’ stories over the years. As well as writing stories for the Sixth Doctor and Peri, including ‘Blood on Santa’s Claw and Other Stories’, he also wrote for the ‘Dead Ringers’ radio series.
I’ve also met Nev Fountain in real-life at the ‘Dimensions 2015’ convention in Newcastle, October 2015. I like how Nev Fountain has adapted John Lloyd’s ‘Doomsday Contract’ scripts into an audio adventure, keeping to the spirit of Season 17 and making it very easy and very enjoyable to listen to.
‘The Doomsday Contract’ has Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor, Lalla Ward as Romana and K-9, voiced by John Leeson, saving the planet Earth from an intergalactic corporation that wishes to bulldoze it for a development project. The Doctor has to stand trial as a witness in order to protect the planet Earth.
I could tell there were quite a number of Douglas Adamsy-references throughout this ‘Doctor Who’ story by John Lloyd, adapted for audio by Nev Fountain. One of these is the notion of bulldozing the planet Earth, which had been done before in ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ by the Vogons. 🙂
I’m surprised the Vogans didn’t make an appearance in the story to make it more obvious. 😀 It was also amusing to hear the comedic tones featured in some of the characters who appear in the story, like the Lost Jury led by the Foreman, played wonderfully well by the story’s director Nicholas Briggs.
There’s also the scene in ‘Part Four’ where Romana takes the judge Perigord Trent to visit the planet Earth to see the intelligent life there. Rather than seeing the humans being intelligent, Trent sees the technology used by humans to be intelligent, which somehow saves the Earth from being bulldozed. 😀
It’s those kinds of Douglas Adamsy-like elements that make the story enjoyable, especially when thought and effort is put into the comedy of things and not done as cheap jokes. I’m sure many ideas were bounced around between Douglas Adams and John Lloyd in terms of the story’s development.
As ever, the story’s cast are excellent throughout. Tom Baker is clearly revelling in playing the Doctor in these audio adventures and he never ‘phones’ in a performance. I enjoy the enthusiasm Tom Baker delivers throughout each audio drama he’s in. It’s clear he enjoys doing Big Finish compared to TV. 🙂
It was fascinating to hear Tom Baker’s Doctor be a character witness on trial in order to save the Earth and failing miserably at it in ‘Part One’. He and K-9 get sent to a micro-universe in order to be protected from their foes, but they get into trouble once the Children of Pyxis catch up with them. 😐
Lalla Ward is equally excellent as Romana in this four-part adventure. It’s actually interesting, according to the behind-the-scenes interviews, that Lalla recorded her scenes remotely in Hong Kong during the Covid-19 pandemic. Some of this story was recorded in January and February 2020.
The rest was recorded in April and May 2020. Romana has the cool steely attitude that she had in the TV series. I liked it when she had scenes with Smilax and Skorpios in the audio story and how she coped without the Doctor being around. She’s disappointed by a sudden decision the Doctor makes. 😐
K-9, voiced by John Leeson, is equally good in this audio adventure. It’s interesting that director Nick Briggs comments on the fact that this story would’ve had David Brierley being the voice of K-9, had it been made for TV. Not that bothers me, since I always feel it should be John Leeson who voices K-9.
I like the scenes K-9 has with the Doctor when they’re in a micro-universe away from the courtroom atmosphere of the Coelare Coelum. K-9’s logical thinking balances well with the Doctor’s flippant remarks. K-9 does lose power quite frequently, especially when in contact with the Children of Pyxis.
The story’s special guest star is Julian Wadham as Judge Perigord Trent. Julian Wadham is well-known for playing John Steed in ‘The Avengers’ audios by Big Finish. He’s also done quite a number of ‘Doctor Who’ audio adventures over the years and I’ve seen him appear in ‘Downton Abbey’ once.
I was disappointed Julian Wadham didn’t have a bigger part to play in the audio adventure, like I anticipated he would. Mind you, Perigord Trent isn’t a fair-minded judge, as he prefers to have his lunch (which was funny to listen to 😀 ) and doesn’t take to people wasting his time during court scenes.
The story’s cast also includes Paul Panting as Smilax and Jeany Spark as Tragacanth, who attempt to defend the Earth from being bulldozed. Jeany Spark also plays the assassin Cham’Yal and voices the Children of Pyxis. There’s Richard Laing playing Skorpios, who is essentially the story’s main villain. 🙂
Richard Laing also plays the two characters Lieson Tilpractice-Frong and Geoff. There’s Spencer Banks (Simon Randall in ‘Timeslip’) as Kovaks, who works for Skorpios; Jane Slavin (who also plays Ann Kelso/Anya Kingdom in ‘Doctor Who’) as the court clerk; and Christopher Naylor (Harry Sullivan in Big Finish) plays a villager.
Looking at the behind-the-scenes photos of ‘The Doomsday Contract’, I’m surprised costume designer June Hudson is among the cast, including Tom Baker and John Leeson. Did she design costumes for ‘The Doomsday Contract’ like for ‘One Mile Down’? 😐 Did she have a role to play in this story? 😐
Maybe it was a visit to see what the Big Finish studios were like and to reunite with Tom Baker and John Leeson that day. I’m curious as to why June Hudson was there when it doesn’t seem like she had a big part to play in the production of ‘The Doomsday Contract’. I would like to be proven wrong here.
‘The Doomsday Contract’ is an enjoyable four-part ‘Doctor Who’ audio story by John Lloyd, featuring the Douglas Adams-era atmosphere that I expected it to have. It’s a shame it never got made for TV, but I’m pleased Big Finish made it into an audio drama with Tom Baker, Lalla Ward and John Leeson.
The CD extras are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s a suite of incidental music to enjoy. On Disc 2, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew, including Tom Baker, Lalla Ward, John Leeson, writer Nev Fountain, director Nicholas Briggs, etc. A pity Julian Wadham wasn’t interviewed.
Incidentally, I was inspired by this audio adventure to invite Alan Camlann (Wolfie) of the Divergent Wordsmiths to write a ‘Doctor Who’ story for me, featuring the Fifth and Sixth Doctors who are joined by Nyssa, Billy, Peri and Frobisher. Hopefully, all will go according to plan and the story will come into fruition soon. 🙂
‘The Doomsday Contract’ rating – 8/10
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