‘The Pantomime of Death’, Chapter 1

nodnol pantomime of death

1. “Welcome to Nodnol”

Roll original 1982 Peter Davison opening credits


SCENE #1 – INT – THEATRE STAGE #4, NEW NEW THEATRE – DAY, EVENING
Children and families enjoy a Christmas pantomime in the New New Theatre on Nodnol Space Station as well as a party of school kids with their teachers. There is laughter and enthusiasm within the theatre. There is jingling footsteps, as Santa Claus comes onto the stage. The children cheer with delight at the sight of him.

HIGGINS (as Santa)
(joyfully) “Ho-ho-ho! Merry Christmas, boys and girls! Merry Christmas to one and all!”

There is an uproar of cheer and screams from the children.

HIGGINS (as Santa)
(joyfully) “Ho-ho-ho! Well, children! Santa Claus has returned!”

Another series of cheers and screams occur.

HIGGINS (as Santa)
(joyfully) “Ho-ho-ho! Did you see the prince save the princess?!”

CHILDREN
“Yes!”

HIGGINS (as Santa)
(loudly) “I can’t hear you! Did you see the prince save the princess?!”

CHILDREN
(screams) “YES!!!!”

HIGGINS (as Santa)
(startled) “Well that’s wonderful! I’m glad the princess is safe! Let’s hope there won’t be any more trouble from that rogue!” (clears his throat) “Well…as you know…Christmas is coming!”

The children cheer joyfully.

HIGGINS (as Santa)
“Yes! Let’s hope there won’t be a Grinch! I’ve got a busy night tonight on Christmas Eve…”

As Santa Claus talks; the Grinch comes on stage behind him, laughing hideously. The children scream, trying to warn Santa Claus.

HIGGINS (as Santa)
(tries to listen) “What’s that?! What’s that you say, children?”

There is a multitude of screams and shouts from the kids as the Grinch creeps up behind Santa Claus, cackling mischievously away. The screams and shouts grow louder.

HIGGINS (as Santa)
(shocked) “What?! The Grinch is behind me?! No, that can’t be right?!”

The children are persistent, as they scream louder.

HIGGINS (as Santa)
“What?! He’s behind me now?!”

The children respond affirmatively as Santa Claus turns around to see the Grinch behind him. But he can’t see him, as the Grinch walks offstage and cackles away.

HIGGINS (as Santa)
(puzzled) “What? Where is he then? I can’t see him?”

CHILDREN
(shouts) “He’s there! He’s there! HE’S THERE!”

Santa Claus turns to look the other way but he doesn’t see the Grinch. With Santa Claus oblivious, the Grinch cackles away.

HIGGINS (as Santa)
(to children) “He’s not behind me! You’re having a laugh, aren’t you?!”

The children deny it in screams and shouts.

HIGGINS (as Santa)
“Well I think you are!”

The children keep on denying it.

HIGGINS (as Santa)
“Oh very well. I’ll tell you what! If he comes on again…if you see the Grinch behind me, I want you to shout together as loud as you can…”He’s behind you!” Then I shall see him! Will you do that for me, kids?!”

CHILDREN
(cheers) “Yes!”

HIGGINS (as Santa)
“I cannot hear you! I asked…’will you do that for me’?!”

CHILDREN
(screams) “YES!!!!”

HIGGINS (as Santa)
“Good! Remember…when you see the Grinch, all of you say ‘He’s behind you!'” (Pause) “Right! Well that’s sorted!” (Pause) “Now as I was saying, Christmas is coming! It’s busy at my workshop and the elves are…”

Just then, the Grinch comes back on stage cackling mischievously. The children scream and shout again.

CHILDREN
(in unison) “HE’S BEHIND YOU!!!!”

HIGGINS (as Santa)
“What?!”

Santa Claus turns around to see the Grinch behind him. But as he does so, a strange whirring noise occurs as everything goes in slow motion. A shot of electrical power emanates from the theatre and the children immediately scream, terrified by this. Eventually the screams die away. The whirring noise and electrical beam stop. Once over, Santa Claus; the Grinch and a number of adults in the audience become bemused and puzzled once the children have gone.

HIGGINS (as Santa)
(joyfully) “Ho-ho-ho! Well, well, well! What do you think of that, ladies and gentlemen? The children have gone!”


SCENE #2 – EXT – ALLEY, YILLADIC CIRCLE – DAY, MORNING
A few days later on Nodnol, in a filthy alley, the TARDIS materialises. It whooshes and wheezes loudly as it arrives. It landed with a thump. The TARDIS doors open and the Doctor, Nyssa and Billy step out.

DOCTOR
(cheerfully) “Welcome to Nodnol, Nyssa and Billy!”

BILLY
(sniffs, reacts in disgust) “Phew! Bit of a stink down here, Doctor?”

DOCTOR
“Well, what else do you expect?”

NYSSA
(slightly annoyed) “Doctor, you’ve landed us in an alleyway!”

DOCTOR
“A filthy alleyway to be precise, Nyssa.”

BILLY
(disgusted) “Filthy, yes. That’s definitely the right word!”

NYSSA
“Couldn’t we have landed somewhere a little more convenient? And clean! We could have parked in one of the space ports!”

DOCTOR
“One of the things you have to understand is that things aren’t bright and colourful as they seem, Nyssa. Anyway, the TARDIS is safe and hidden away here.”

NYSSA
“That remains to be seen.”

DOCTOR
“Now we’ve got to reach Yilladic Circle.”

BILLY
“Yilladic Circle, Doctor?”

DOCTOR
“Yes! Don’t forget it’s Christmas! The streets will be packed with late night shoppers and parties going on. We must adapt to it!”

NYSSA
“This is definitely Nodnol space station, is it Doctor? You’ve checked the coordinates?”

DOCTOR
“Of course. This is definitely Nodnol. For once the TARDIS has landed in the right place.”

BILLY
“What is Nodnol space station when it’s at home then? You two seem to know it pretty well.”

NYSSA
“Not really. The Doctor just happened to mention it to me recently!”

DOCTOR
“Nodnol is a sort of London of the future, Billy. An space colony belonging to a flourishing Earth Empire.”

BILLY
“London of the future, hey?” (laughs) “Well it certainly feels and sounds like London. I’ve known it to be this busy!”

DOCTOR
“Wait a minute! I need to check what Earth date it is on Nodnol.” (realises) “Ah! There’s a newspaper there on the floor!”

The Doctor picked up the newspaper, unfolded it and scanned for today’s date.

DOCTOR
“We’ve arrived on the twenty-third of December forty-eight, seventy-seven.” (to himself) “Two days before Christmas then.”

BILLY
“Forty-eight, seventy-seven?! Crikey I’m way over five hundred years old!”

DOCTOR
“Two thousand, nine hundred and thirty five years to be precise, Billy.”

NYSSA
“I’d be about the same age as well. Only two years younger.” (to Doctor) “Doctor, I gather you’ve arranged everything.”

BILLY
“Arranged everything? Nyssa, what’s happening? Where are we going?”

NYSSA
“The Hotel Triz? You did promise, Doctor!”

DOCTOR
“Yes Nyssa, I did promise. You didn’t think I’d go back on my word.”

BILLY
(puzzled) “Promise? What are you two on about?”

NYSSA
“Come on, Billy. You’ll find out soon enough.”

DOCTOR
“And it’s nothing to do with me. It’s something that had to be arranged.” (Pause) “Anyway, let’s get going shall we? Come on.”

The Doctor walked on and led the way as Nyssa and Billy followed him out of the alleyway, leaving the TARDIS behind them.


SCENE #3 – INT – RECEPTION HALL, HOTEL TRIZ – DAY, MORNING
An hour later, the Doctor, Nyssa and Billy arrived at the Hotel Triz. As they entered, a quaint busyness occurs about the place as well as a calm atmosphere.

NYSSA
(to Doctor) “So…this is the Hotel Triz. You say it’s a highly recommended five-star hotel on Nodnol, Doctor.”

DOCTOR
“That’s right, Nyssa! I’ve come to know the Hotel Triz as having a good reputation and is praised for its quality service. At least it says that in the brochure.”

BILLY
“Doctor? I wanted to take Nyssa to the New York Paramount Theatre movie premiere of ‘Holiday Inn’ in August 1942. You know with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. Next thing I know we’ve ended up here.”

DOCTOR
“I was on the verge of taking you both there, Billy. But Nyssa had other things planned.”

BILLY
(surprised) “What?! Nyssa, I thought you wanted to see the movie premiere of ‘Holiday Inn’!”

NYSSA
“I do, Billy. But…I asked the Doctor to take us here on my request.”

BILLY
“Nyssa, what are you and the Doctor up to?”

NYSSA
“Doctor, shall we proceed to the reception desk?”

DOCTOR
“Yes. Let’s do that then, Nyssa.”

The trio make their way to the reception desk, where the receptionist attends to them.

RECEPTIONIST
(politely) “Good evening, sir. How may I help you?”

DOCTOR
“Ah hello! I’d like to check in on behalf of a few friends of mine.”

RECEPTIONIST
“Very good, sir.”

The receptionist accesses the hotel database. After entering a few keys on the keyboard, she turns back to the Doctor.

RECEPTIONIST
“Can I take your name please, sir?”

DOCTOR
“Yes. It’s the Doctor.”

RECEPTIONIST
(puzzled) “Doctor who?”

DOCTOR
“If you like.”

The receptionist checks the database.

RECEPTIONIST
“Thank you, Mr. Doctor! I have your reservation here with us. It’s for four nights from the twenty-third of December, isn’t it?”

DOCTOR
“That’s right!”

BILLY
“And what’s all this for, Doctor?”

NYSSA
(gradually) “For us, Billy!”

BILLY
(surprised) “Hey?”

NYSSA
“This is my present to you, Billy. For us. To spend Christmas together.”

BILLY
(amazed) “Christmas?! Together? You and me, Nyssa? You’d like to spend Christmas with me?!”

NYSSA
“Yes! I wanted to surprise you, Billy. It seems I succeeded.”

BILLY
(awed) “You asked the Doctor to take us here…to this hotel…on this space station…to spend Christmas together?!”

NYSSA
“Is it so hard to believe?”

BILLY
(amazed) “I certainly made an impression on you, haven’t I?”

NYSSA
“You have, Billy. You have.” (Pause) “I asked the Doctor where the best place was to spend a romantic Christmas with you. He suggested this place.”

DOCTOR
“I certainly did, Billy. Though I’m not usually in a habit of pre-arranging romantic endeavours between couples. But this was an exception. So don’t take me for granted.”

BILLY
“Of course not. Thank you all the same, Doctor. Thank you so much!”

NYSSA
“Yes thank you, Doctor.”

DOCTOR
(gradually) “Yes well, I’ve got plenty to do whilst we’re here on Nodnol. Finding out the latest on cricket is a start.”

NYSSA
“You don’t mind do you, Doctor? Me and Billy spending time together?”

DOCTOR
“Oh don’t mind me. I’ll look at the brochures and guides over here.” (astonished) “And there are cricket magazines!”

The Doctor walks over to a stack containing brochures and guides. Nyssa and Billy talk quietly meanwhile.

BILLY
“Thank you so much, Nyssa. I really am grateful to you doing this. You’re such a nice person and I love you!”

NYSSA
“Yes…I am a nice person! And I love you too, Billy!”

BILLY
“Thank you.”

Both kiss each other. Meanwhile the Doctor says things out of random.

DOCTOR
(from afar) “They’ve changed the rules of cricket! What is this universe coming to?!”

Whilst the Doctor talks, the receptionist interrupts Nyssa and Billy.

RECEPTIONIST
(to Nyssa; Billy) “Excuse me, madam; sir. Here are the keys to your rooms.”

NYSSA
“Oh. Thank you.”

Nyssa takes the keys from the receptionist. Nyssa gives a set of keys to Billy.

NYSSA
“Go on, Billy. You go and check our rooms whilst I give this set of keys to the Doctor. I’ll join you in a moment.”

BILLY
“Righty-ho! See you up there!”

Billy goes off upstairs whilst Nyssa goes to the Doctor to give him his keys. The Doctor is absorbed in his cricket magazines.

NYSSA
“Doctor? Here are the keys to your room!” (Pause) “Doctor?”

DOCTOR
(to himself) “I can’t believe they’ve changed the rules of cricket!!” (to Nyssa) “Hmm? Oh, Nyssa. Thank you.”

The Doctor takes his set of keys from Nyssa, before returning his attention to the cricket magazine.

NYSSA
“Billy and I will be upstairs, Doctor.” (Pause) “See you later.”

Nyssa goes off upstairs to join Billy, whilst the Doctor reads his cricket magazines.

DOCTOR
(exasperated) “They’ve changed the length of the cricket bats as well! And they’re not wearing jumpers anymore! How disgraceful!”

The Doctor then notices Nyssa and Billy have gone. He puts the magazines down.

DOCTOR
(sighs) “Oh. They’ve gone!” (Pause) “I must be the only person concerned about the state of cricket in this part of the universe. Typical.”

As the Doctor grumbles, a mum and a dad enter.

ANN
(shouts) “I don’t care what you say, Howard! I know something’s wrong! I want to know what they’ve done to our daughter!”

HOWARD
“Calm down, dear. You’re making a fuss over nothing.”

ANN
(shrieks) “Nothing?! Our daughter nothing?!”

The Doctor soon makes his way over to the man and the woman.

DOCTOR
(cheerily) “Hello there! Sorry for interrupting, but can I help?”

ANN
“I beg your pardon, sir?”

DOCTOR
“You two seem to be in trouble.”

HOWARD
(confused) “Um…yes. Err…I can’t really remember but…I think we had a daughter.”

ANN
“What do you mean ‘think’? Of course we have a daughter, Howard!”

DOCTOR
“You can’t remember your daughter, Mr….”

HOWARD
“Howard. I’m called Howard.”

ANN
“And I’m called Ann. Pleased to meet you, sir.”

DOCTOR
(cheerfully) “Hello Howard; hello Ann! When did you last see your daughter then? If you don’t mind me asking?”

HOWARD
“Not at all. It was at a building I think.” (thinks) “In a play or something.”

ANN
“Our daughter went on a school trip to see a pantomime. She was with her friends and her teachers you see.”

DOCTOR
“Have you contacted the school? Maybe she’s lost!”

ANN
“We did contact the school! But apparently she’s not registered with them. They don’t know anybody called Hannah or by the description we gave them of her.”

HOWARD
“I don’t know anybody by that name either, Ann dear.”

ANN
(upset, loudly) “Of course you do, Howard! How could you forget her? Our daughter, Hannah! She’s nine years old, our daughter!”

DOCTOR
“Hannah, you say her name is.” (to Ann) “How is it you know your daughter but your husband doesn’t, Ann?”

ANN
“I don’t know! I can’t understand my husband’s behaviour today! He’s not this forgetful! He usually remembers our Hannah!”

DOCTOR
“Were you two meant to pick her up? From this theatre where the…play was taking place?”

HOWARD
“Well it seems that I was supposed to, but…when I arrived…I couldn’t remember what I was there for.”

DOCTOR
(to Ann) “You didn’t go with your husband did you, Ann?”

ANN
(gradually) “No I didn’t.”

DOCTOR
(puzzled; to Howard) “So what exactly happened, Howard? When you went inside?”

HOWARD
“Well…I went in knowing I had to do something or see someone…then I realised I’d forgotten why I was there.”

DOCTOR
(to Ann) “Ann? What’s the name of this theatre your daughter was at?”

ANN
(breathes deep) “The New New Theatre.”

DOCTOR
“The New New Theatre.” (Pause) “And you say it was a school trip?”

ANN
“Yes.”

Ann then searches through her handbag and takes out a letter. She shows it to the Doctor which he takes from her.

ANN
“That’s the letter from the school. It was letting us know that Hannah was going on this trip. But when I showed it to them at the school as evidence, they denied sending us that letter. Which is very odd considering that is their school logo on it!”

DOCTOR
“How long has it been since your daughter was missing, Ann?”

ANN
(gradually) “About three days I think.”

DOCTOR
“Three days. Right.”

HOWARD
(realises) “I started getting headaches three days ago!”

DOCTOR
“Headaches? Interesting, Mr. Howard. And that was since your daughter went missing?”

HOWARD
“I don’t remember having a daughter!”

Just then, Nyssa and Billy came back downstairs to rejoin the Doctor.

NYSSA
(calls) “Doctor?! You’re still here then!”

DOCTOR
“Ah Nyssa; Billy! There you are!”

BILLY
“We’ve seen our rooms, Doctor! They’re fantastic!”

NYSSA
“Doctor, do you have any cash we could borrow? To have something to eat here? We haven’t got enough cash.”

The Doctor fumbles through his pockets in irritation searching for money.

DOCTOR
“Have you ever heard of getting a job, you two?”

BILLY
“I have a job, Doctor. I’m a photographer. But for some reason, nobody seems to be interested in my photography at the moment.”

DOCTOR
“Well you should have asked! I could have helped you with that!”

The Doctor eventually hands some coins over to Nyssa out of his pockets.

DOCTOR
“Here you are! Now if you’ll excuse me. I’m rather busy at the moment.”

NYSSA
“Why, what’s wrong, Doctor?” (intrigued) “Who are these two?”

DOCTOR
“Oh sorry. Forgive my manners.” (to Ann; Howard) “Ann; Howard, this is Nyssa and Billy.” (to Nyssa; Billy) “Nyssa; Billy, this is Howard and Ann.”

BILLY
(cheerfully) “Hello there.”

HOWARD
“How do you do?”

DOCTOR
“And I’m the Doctor by the way. We are strangers, but we’re willing to help!”

ANN
(thrilled) “Doctor? Did you say ‘Doctor’?”

DOCTOR
(realises) “Ah! Yes, but…”

ANN
“Do you think you can help my husband then? Help him with his mind and make him remember our daughter again?”

NYSSA
“Doctor, what’s going on here? I hope you’re going to tell us.”

DOCTOR
“These two parents have lost their daughter, Nyssa.”

NYSSA
“Lost their daughter?!”

HOWARD
“We haven’t lost a daughter! I keep telling you!”

ANN
(upset) “We have lost a daughter! How could you, Howard…?”

DOCTOR
(raises voice) “Alright, alright! Let’s take this one step at a time, shall we?”

ANN
(agitated) “It’s not just our daughter that’s gone missing, Doctor! There are hundreds of parents with missing children on this space colony! It’s in all of the newspapers! It was something to do with that theatre!”

Billy picks up a newspaper and looks through it.

BILLY
“She’s right, Doctor. It’s says so on the front cover of this newspaper.”

DOCTOR
(to himself) “Well, well, well. This is a strange phenomenon.” (Pause) “Howard? Have you had any memory-related diseases or anything?”

HOWARD
(baffled) “I’ve checked with the doctors, but they say there’s nothing wrong with me. My wife won’t believe it, but it’s true.”

DOCTOR
“So you’ve had a formal check-up recently then?”

HOWARD
“If you ask me, it’s Ann who needs a check-up! Not me!”

ANN
“I’m perfectly well, thank you. I know my daughter is real and I’m not going mad!”

DOCTOR
(lights up) “Wait a minute! I’ve just thought of something!”

NYSSA
“Good. Tell us what it is, Doctor.”

DOCTOR
“Nyssa! You and Billy take Howard and Ann to the hotel bar, whilst I go back to the TARDIS.”

BILLY
(baffled) “What are you going back there for then, Doctor?”

DOCTOR
“Never mind that. I’ll go and fetch my little gadget. You just chat to our new friends here.”

NYSSA
(assuredly) “We’ll do that, Doctor.”

DOCTOR
“Splendid! Be back later, Howard and Ann. Be patient. Won’t be long. Patience is a virtue.”

The Doctor soon heads off out of the hotel, whilst Ann and Howard are escorted by Nyssa and Billy to the hotel bar.


SCENE #4 – INT – HOTEL BAR, HOTEL TRIZ – DAY, MORNING
In the hotel bar, Nyssa and Billy sit with Ann and Howard before the Doctor returns, carrying a medical gadget in his hand.

DOCTOR
(cheerily) “Ah there you all are! Here it is! The little gadget I was looking for. It was right at the bottom of the TARDIS storage cupboard.”

BILLY
“That’s a funny little contraption you got there, Doctor. What does it do?”

DOCTOR
“I’m glad you asked, Billy. And by the way, this is a very old-fashioned device I picked up.” (to Nyssa) “You won’t see me use this often, Nyssa.”

NYSSA
“Just explain what it is Doctor and then we’ll be able to understand.”

DOCTOR
“Very well.” (Pause) “This is what’s called the memorometer, Billy.”

BILLY
“The memorometer?”

NYSSA
(gently) “Don’t interrupt, Billy. Let the Doctor explain.”

DOCTOR
“Thank you Nyssa.” (Pause) “This scans the brain wave patterns in any ordinary humanoid brain and detects any side effects or electrical instabilities within its working function. It detects anything in the substance of neurons that significantly affects the…”

NYSSA
(finishes) “Dendrites and the synapses. Is that what you were going to say, Doctor?”

DOCTOR
(thinks) “Yes why not, Nyssa.” (continues) “The dendrites and synapses in terms of altering or causing memory loss in the mind.” (Pause) “This memorometer’s very old but it’s still effective. I should get a new one.”

NYSSA
“Doctor, you’re not seriously going to use that on Howard and Ann, are you?”

DOCTOR
“Oh it’s harmless when in use. Look.”

The Doctor switches the memorometer on. It sparks to life with electricity. It gives the Doctor an electrical shock and causes him to cry out.

DOCTOR
(startled) “Oh! Good gracious me! That’s a bit of a twinge!”

BILLY
(concerned) “Are you alright, Doctor?”

DOCTOR
“Thank you, Billy. I’ll be alright in a moment.”

NYSSA
“Doctor, there is an easier way of solving this…”

DOCTOR
“Oh it’s no problem, Nyssa. My neurons are in good health according to this gadget. But…hold on, wait a minute…”

BILLY
“Wait a minute, what, Doctor?”

DOCTOR
(realises) “The memorometer’s just picked up my stress levels. They’re high. It’s because of these changes to cricket I’ve discovered in the magazines I found.” (agitated) “I can’t believe they’ve got rid of the jumpers!”

NYSSA
“Doctor, what I was going say was…”

DOCTOR
“Not now, Nyssa.” (to Ann) “Okay Ann, let me start looking at you first. Keep still please.”

ANN
(nervously) “Very well, Doctor.”

DOCTOR
“Now you might feel a little stingy feeling…”

Before the Doctor explains, he places the device on Ann’s head and switches it on. It causes a spark. Ann reacts in shock to the electrical pulses. The Doctor soon pulls the device from her head.

DOCTOR
(satisfied) “There you are, done.” (to himself) “Okay let’s have a look.”

The Doctor checks the readings on the memorometer.

NYSSA
“Well, Doctor?”

DOCTOR
(considers) “Yes…stress obviously. Behavioural patterns and symptoms…” (Pause; to Ann) “There’s nothing wrong with you, Ann. Your stress levels are normal.”

ANN
“Are they?”

DOCTOR
“Yes. Can I check your eyes please? For any pupil dilation?”

Ann complies, as the Doctor looks into her eyes for a moment.

DOCTOR
“You’re in shock. That’s normal.” (to Howard) “But I can’t detect anything wrong with your wife, Howard.”

HOWARD
“Then why would she want to make up a story like the one she’s made now?”

ANN
(upset) “Howard, I’m not making this up!”

NYSSA
“Ann, please. I’m sure Howard’s got a good reason why he can’t remember Hannah.”

DOCTOR
(curiously) “Howard? Do you have fond memories of your wife?”

HOWARD
(thinks) “Mostly, yes. I remember our wedding.”

DOCTOR
“You remember your wedding?”

HOWARD
“Yes! I remember that vividly! It was the happiest day of my life!” (Pause) “But…I don’t remember having children with Ann.”

DOCTOR
(to himself) “This is a far stranger phenomenon than I thought.”

NYSSA
“Doctor, I have a suggestion.”

DOCTOR
(exasperated) “Yes, Nyssa. What is it?”

NYSSA
“Well…all of this took place at this…New New Theatre. Therefore…”

DOCTOR
(interrupts) “Therefore we should go to this theatre, check it out and find some answers!”

NYSSA
(wryly) “That’s a very good suggestion, Doctor.”

DOCTOR
(proudly) “Of course it is, because I’m the Doctor.”

BILLY
(whispers, to Nyssa) “That was a good suggestion you made, Nyssa.”

NYSSA
(whispers quietly to Billy) “Thank you, Billy.”

DOCTOR
(to Howard) “Now if my theory is correct…it seems Howard that from leaving the theatre you have been implanted with a form of an array that’s purposefully wiped your memory of a certain event, causing a side effect to make you forget certain things like your daughter whilst still remembering your wedding. I hope it’s not permanent, but it’s something we definitely need to sort out!”

NYSSA
“We should get onto sorting out this as soon as possible, Doctor.”

DOCTOR
“Agreed!” (to Ann; Howard) “What do you say, Howard and Ann? Are you willing to go back to the theatre again?”

HOWARD
(baffled) “Well, if it helps with me sorting out my memory then yes.”

ANN
“Absolutely! I want to see my daughter again as soon as possible!”

DOCTOR
“Nyssa; Billy? Are you two coming along?”

NYSSA
“Of course. You’re not leaving us out of it, Doctor.”

BILLY
“We’ll tag along, yes Doctor.”

DOCTOR
“Splendid! We make for the theatre!” (Pause) “But one thing’s for certain. After this…I’m going to write a letter of complaint to the owners of this space station’s cricket club because they’ve got rid of the jumpers.” (agitated) “What kind of a future is this?!”

The Doctor; Nyssa; Billy; Ann and Howard get up from their seats and make to leave the hotel bar.

DOCTOR
“Come on, you four! Let’s make our way.”

The Doctor heads off in one direction.

HOWARD
“Well for a start, you’re going the wrong way, Doctor.”

DOCTOR
“Excuse me; excuse me!”

The Doctor turns around and heads the other way. Nyssa; Billy; Ann and Howard follow on and head out of the hotel. Billy whispers to Nyssa as they head out.

BILLY
(whispers) “I suppose this means our Christmas break is postponed, Nyssa.”

NYSSA
(whispers) “I’m afraid it does.” (apologetically) “I’m sorry, Billy.”

BILLY
(whispers) “No need. I had rather anticipated something like this.”

The Doctor, Nyssa and Billy with Ann and Howard head for the New New Theatre.


SCENE #5 – INT – RECEPTION AREA, NEW NEW THEATRE – DAY, MORNING
At the New, New Theatre, Higgins the theatre manager is on the interphone at reception. The Doctor, Nyssa, Billy, Ann and Howard enter whilst he’s on the phone. Mr. Higgins’ voice is loud and booming.

HIGGINS
(booms; through interphone) “No! No! I need three actors! My last three just walked out!” (Pause) “I don’t need to explain why they walked out!” (Pause) “Well can you at least check? I know it’s short notice but…” (Pause) “And you can tell your friend at the other end that…” (trails off) “Hello?! Hello?!”

The person at the receiving end has hung up. Higgins gets agitated as he switches the interphone off.

HIGGINS
(agitated, to himself) “This is all turning into a nightmare! And my masters…”

He then stops as he sees the Doctor and others approach reception and changes his tune.

HIGGINS
(cheerfully) “Oh! Hello sir!”

DOCTOR
“Hello there! Quite a nice theatre you have! I’m just browsing as are my friends. It is okay for us to look around here, is it?”

HIGGINS
“But of course. By all means, sir. I’m Mr. Higgins. I own this theatre.”

DOCTOR
“Oh hello, Mr. Higgins. And thank you. I’m the Doctor. This is Nyssa…Ann and Howard.”

HIGGINS
(cheerfully) “How do you do, all of you?”

DOCTOR
“I believe you’ve met Howard before.” (to Howard) “Isn’t that right, Howard?”

HOWARD
(puzzled) “I never met this man in my life.”

BILLY
(abjectly) “Doctor, you forgot to mention me!”

DOCTOR
(apologetically) “Oh sorry. And this is Nyssa as well!”

NYSSA
(puzzled) “Doctor! This is Billy! I’m Nyssa here!”

DOCTOR
(confused) “Sorry. I meant Billy! Good gracious me…” (thinks) “Now that’s odd. I seem to have forgotten somehow…”

Moment of tense silence.

HIGGINS
(politely) “And err…what can I do for you five charming people?”

NYSSA
“We were wondering if you could help us, Mr. Higgins.”

HIGGINS
(intrigued) “Help you, young lady?”

NYSSA
“Yes. You see Ann and Howard have lost their little girl.”

HIGGINS
“Little girl? Oh I’m sorry to hear that.”

BILLY
“They say she attended one of your pantomimes at this theatre.”

DOCTOR
(to Ann) “Ann, pardon me for asking. But didn’t you and Howard come to the theatre as your first port of call when your little girl was missing?”

ANN
(thinks) “Not really, no! We checked with the school first; then we went to the council, but…we didn’t come here. At least…I don’t remember.”

DOCTOR
(confused) “You don’t remember coming to the theatre? Interesting!” (to Howard) “Did you…sorry what was your name again?”

HOWARD
(puzzled) “Howard.”

DOCTOR
(puzzled) “Howard, yes. How come I forgot that?”

NYSSA
“Doctor, what is it? You look pale all of a sudden. Is something the matter?”

DOCTOR
(breathes deep) “I’m fine. It’s just…the air’s a little thin, isn’t it? So close. Or is it just me?”

Another moment of tense silence.

HIGGINS
“Pardon me for butting in, but…I’m in a crisis at the moment.”

DOCTOR
(confused) “Crisis? What was that, Mr. Higgins?”

HIGGINS
“Well…I’m looking for three new actors for my pantomime. I know this seems a little presumptuous and rather short notice, but I was wondering…”

NYSSA
“Yes that’s correct, Mr. Higgins. We’re actors, now you mention it!”

BILLY
“Nyssa?”

NYSSA
(insistently) “We’re actors. Aren’t we, Billy?”

BILLY
(gradually; realises) “Oh! We’re actors, yes! Definitely, yes! We’re actors!”

DOCTOR
(enthusiastically) “Yes. Nyssa’s right, Mr. Higgins. I maybe a doctor, but me and my friends are actors too! Amateur, of course.”

HIGGINS
“You and your friends are actors, Doctor? That’s splendid!”

DOCTOR
(casually) “I have the proof to show you if you wish to see it. Look!”

The Doctor fishes something out of his pocket, whilst Nyssa and Billy whisper.

BILLY
(whispers) “What are you playing at, Nyssa?”

NYSSA
(whispers) “Trust me, Billy. This is our way in.”

Meanwhile, the Doctor presents a tiny document to Higgins.

DOCTOR
“There you are, Mr. Higgins. That’s our card from the Nodnol Dramatics Arts Society. Please believe it.”

Mr. Higgins looks at the card for a moment.

HIGGINS
(impressed) “Well, everything seems to be in order.”

Billy whispers to Nyssa again.

BILLY
(whispers) “That card thing the Doctor gave to Higgins, Nyssa. It seemed to have worked.”

NYSSA
(whispers) “There must be some psychic perception filters on the card, Billy. The Doctor is one step ahead.”

Higgins resumes his conversation with the Doctor.

HIGGINS
(to Doctor) “Well I must say I’m lucky to have found you three at short notice. Why didn’t you tell me this before that you were actors?”

DOCTOR
(laughs) “I’m not one for boasting my talents, Mr. Higgins.”

Moment of silence.

HOWARD
(to Ann) “Honey, dear? I want to go home. I don’t feel good here.”

ANN
(frustrated) “Alright then. Let’s get out of here.”

DOCTOR
“Uh Ann; Howard. Wait a minute.” (to Mr. Higgins) “Excuse me, Mr. Higgins?”

Without receiving an answer, the Doctor takes Howard and Ann to one side before they leave the theatre.

DOCTOR
“Ann; Howard. This is part of my plan to find your daughter.” (to Howard) “Howard, I know you don’t remember your daughter, but trust me! Whereabouts do you live may I ask?”

HOWARD
(baffled) “I don’t remember the number, but I think we live in the second block of Nodnol.”

DOCTOR
“Second block of Nodnol. Right, wait a moment.”

The Doctor fetches out a notepad and writes on a page using a pen.

ANN
“What are you doing, Doctor? Why are you using that pen and pad?”

DOCTOR
“I’m writing down the address your husband Howard gave me just in case I forget. And I mean ‘literally’ forget!”

The Doctor finishes writing in his notepad and puts it back in his pocket.

DOCTOR
“Right! You two head home.” (to Howard) “Howard? Please your wife now and again.”

HOWARD
(puzzled) “What do you mean?”

DOCTOR
“Buy her something nice. New clothes. Lovely dinner perhaps. Perk her up.” (to Ann) “And Ann? I’ll do what I can to find your daughter.”

ANN
“Thank you, Doctor.” (to Howard) “Come on, Howard! Let’s go home, shall we?”

Once Ann and Howard are gone, the Doctor rejoins Nyssa and Billy with Higgins.

DOCTOR
“Sorry about that!” (to Higgins) “You were saying, Mr Higgins?”

HIGGINS
“Well you can now step in for the three actors who walked out.”

NYSSA
“We’re very happy to help out, Mr…” (Pause) “Sorry what’s your name again?”

HIGGINS
“Higgins, my dear. My name is Higgins.”

NYSSA
“Higgins, yes. Sorry. I nearly forgot.”

HIGGINS
“You may also call me…Santa Claus.”

DOCTOR
(astonished) “Santa Claus? Good gracious me!”

BILLY
“You mean…there’s a real Santa Claus after all!”

Higgins laughs merrily for a while before becoming serious.

HIGGINS
“No. There isn’t a real Santa Claus.”

NYSSA
“There isn’t?”

HIGGINS
“Of course not, young lady! It’s the part I’m playing in the pantomime.”

BILLY
(laughs) “Oh I see. That’s a relief. Sorry.”

HIGGINS
“I maybe a manager, but I also take part in the pantomime myself.”

BILLY
(to Nyssa; through his teeth) “Probably because he gets a bigger pay cheque.”

Nyssa knocks Billy with her elbow to shut him up. Billy reacts in pain to Nyssa’s nudge but resumes being polite.

NYSSA
(to Billy; through her teeth) “Hush Billy!”

BILLY
(through his teeth) “Sorry.”

DOCTOR
(fascinated) “What is the pantomime, Mr Higgins?”

HIGGINS
“Ah! Now…this pantomime is going to be the best! The most spectacular anybody has ever seen! And it draws upon a classic story!”

NYSSA
“What’s it called, Mr Higgins?”

HIGGINS
‘Cinderella’!”

DOCTOR
“‘Cinderella’?”

HIGGINS
“Yes! ‘Cinderella’ is the pantomime, Doctor!”

DOCTOR
‘Cinderella’?” (Pause) “Oh dear!”

BILLY
“Isn’t that the story about the girl with the glass slipper?”

HIGGINS
“That’s correct!” (to Nyssa) “Now, you young lady! You have the look of a beautiful princess. So you…shall play Cinderella herself!”

NYSSA
(flattered) “Oh. Why thank you, Mr. Higgins. That’s very kind of you.”

BILLY
“Oh you’ll make a very lovely Cinderella, Nyssa. You’re a princess after all!”

NYSSA
“Aww! That’s very sweet of you, Billy.”

HIGGINS
(to Billy) “And you, Billy! You shall play the handsome prince!”

BILLY
“Oh! Good! That’s what I like to hear!”

HIGGINS
“And you, Doctor! You shall play…Buttons!”

DOCTOR
(put-off) “Buttons?”

HIGGINS
“Yes. Now isn’t that a good role for a pantomime, hey?”

BILLY
(amused) “Yes. That sounds like a very good role indeed, Doctor.”

At that moment, a girl called Sally enters.

HIGGINS
“Ah! Sally, could you escort these three new actors to their dressing rooms please?”

DOCTOR
“No wait. Mr. Higgins…”

HIGGINS
“Then they can get started on their rehearsals as soon as possible.”

SALLY
“Yes, Mr. Higgins sir.”

HIGGINS
“Now if you’ll excuse me, I have lots to do!” (to Doctor) “Thank you, Doctor. I knew I could count on you. See you tonight.” (to everyone) “Goodbye Doctor; Nyssa; Billy. Thanks again.”

Mr. Higgins walks off, leaving the Doctor; Nyssa and Billy about to be escorted by Sally.

DOCTOR
(despairs) “What have we landed ourselves with this time, Nyssa; Billy?”


© Tim Bradley, 2017

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