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For The Glory Of The Elite
‘The Elite’ is the first of this ‘Lost Stories’ trilogy with the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa.
I’m a massive fan of the Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’, especially with Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton as the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa. So I was pleased to hear that a trilogy of unmade stories from the TV series was to be adapted into Big Finish audio dramas with the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan.
I was looking forward to listening to this trilogy when it came out before the Christmas holidays in 2011. I managed to receive the first two stories including this one ‘The Elite’ and ‘Hexagora’ as Christmas presents. The third story ‘The Children of Seth’ was delayed in post-delivery from Amazon.
I’ve had the CD cover of ‘The Elite’ signed by Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton at the ‘Stars of Time Film and Comic Con 2016 @ The Tropicana’, Weston-super-Mare, August 2016. I’ve enjoying sharing to Peter and Sarah how much I’ve enjoyed these Big Finish audios with them as the Doctor and Nyssa and they appreciate my support.
‘The Elite’ is a four-part story and was conceived by Barbara Clegg, who wrote ‘Enlightenment’ for TV. I didn’t know that Barbara had submitted several story ideas to the ‘Doctor Who’ office in 1980s. Big Finish decided to adapt this one with the Doctor; Nyssa and Tegan as the first story in this trilogy.
The story was adapted for audio by John Dorney, who has now become a Big Finish supremo writer following his writing/acting success. This includes some of his recent work for the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa, especially since he wrote ‘Special Features’ in ‘The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories’.
‘The Elite’ has the Doctor taking Tegan and Nyssa to the planet Florana. On the way, the TARDIS gets caught in a time distortion and they end up in a domed city on an unfamiliar planet. They find a society scared by warfare. The Doctor knows something is wrong and the High Priest is behind it all.
The society of the Elite is very much like a Nazi dictatorship. Having studied Nazi Germany in GCSE and GCE History at school and at college, I knew how this society worked. The Elite has echoes of the Hitler Youth in this story and it was I horrifying and sickening to listen to, as well as very well-written.
There is a division of two factions between the military and the church at the Cathedral of Power. This set up between church and state echoes what society is like today. It’s left vague about what this society’s religious beliefs are, but I found interesting and disturbing.
This story is set in between ‘Arc of Infinity’ and ‘Snakedance’, not long after Tegan recently re-joined the Doctor and Nyssa in the TARDIS. But Nyssa and Tegan were left behind in in Amsterdam from ‘The Waters of Amsterdam’, while the Doctor was off elsewhere in ‘Omega’ and ‘The Burning Prince’.
I enjoyed Peter Davison as the Doctor in this story, as he puts in so much energy into his performance. Peter’s Doctor is clearly disgruntled for having Tegan back in the TARDIS with him and Nyssa. He found it quiet when Tegan wasn’t around and he wonders how he’ll cope with her back.
I liked how Peter’s Doctor is written in this. John Dorney captures the mannerisms and character traits of Peter’s Doctor so well. He also adds lines of humour in Peter’s Doctor that make him flippant when he’s defying and making fun of the Elite members and Peter performs those lines so superbly.
Janet Fielding returns as Tegan Jovanka in the TARDIS. I liked how this story touches upon Tegan’s return and that she hasn’t changed a bit. She complains that her room has changed and is surprised that she’s been away for so long. She also complains that she has to wear the same clothes she’s got.
Tegan does complain a lot in this adventure, but I like it that she’s the one who encourages the rejects on the planet to move forward and fighting back against the Elite. Tegan also gets worried when Nyssa has been ‘converted’ and is annoyed when someone stuns out her a number of times.
Sarah Sutton is wonderful as Nyssa in this audio adventure. I was so thrilled to hear her in a ‘Lost Story’. But I do feel though that Nyssa is rather side-lined, since this would have been a TV story and the focus would have been more on Tegan. I do like some of the moments that shone out for Nyssa.
Nyssa has a bar of ‘choc-o-late’ from Tegan. I thought it was mean of the Doctor to snatch it from her when she was enjoying it. I’m inclined to disagree that chocolate can be bad for Nyssa. I’m sure she’s had plenty of boyfriends giving her chocolate and she’s enjoyed it without the Doctor knowing of it.
Sadly Nyssa gets brainwashed in this audio adventure, which had me terribly anxious and scared when I heard it. She’s forced to be re-educated by the Elite when she doesn’t want to. This has her turning on the Doctor, believing the Elite ways are right and just and she becomes very nasty in this.
I find it very annoying when Nyssa gets brainwashed in ‘Doctor Who’, since it seems like the writers can’t write well for her. Also, as Sarah points out, Nyssa gets knocked out not once; not twice but three times which upset me. She also gets carried around a lot by the Doctor and isn’t speaking a lot.
This story guest stars Joe Coen as General Aubron. Aubron is a young man who is in command of the military forces for the glory of the Elite. He is a pretty strong-willed and ruthless individual, especially when it comes to interrogating Nyssa and Tegan on their arrival and when he deals with the Doctor.
There’s also Ryan Sampson (from ‘The Sontaran Strategem’/’The Poison Sky’) as Father Thane. Thane works for the High Priest at the Cathedral of Power. He’s got a strong belief in the High Priest as his god and he’s so passionate and ruthless. Thane does go insane and over-the-top at end of the story.
The guest cast also includes Derek Carlyle as Alaric, Aubron’s second-in-command and Joannah Tincey as Educator Stemp who ‘re-educates’ Nyssa. There’s also John Banks as Garthak, leader of the rejects against the Elite; and there’s Ellie Burrow as Ella, a reject that Tegan meets in her prison cell.
The High Priest turns out to be a Dalek (voiced by Nicholas Briggs). A Dalek! I didn’t expect that. Nyssa faced Daleks before in ‘The Mutant Phase’, ‘Renaissance of the Daleks’; ‘Plague of the Daleks’ and in my ‘Fifth Doctor by Tim Bradley’ story called ‘Doom of the Daleks’. Tegan would later face Daleks in ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’, so it was interesting that she meets one for the first time in this.
‘The Elite’ isn’t really a story about the Daleks. It’s a story about fascism, as the Dalek teaches the people of the Elite on this planet about how to kill. The Dalek doesn’t say ‘exterminate’ surprisingly, but Thane and many Academy trainees say it. Even Nyssa says ‘exterminate’ when she’s converted.
‘The Elite’ has been a great opening story to this trilogy of ‘Lost Stories’ with the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan. I think it’s the best one out of the trilogy and it certainly terrified me when I heard Nyssa being cruelly ‘converted’ into the Elite. The presence of a Dalek in this adventure made it even more exciting.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Discs 1 and 2, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew including Peter Davison; Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding. I enjoyed it when Sarah and Janet compared notes on being ‘Doctor Who’ companions and about them meeting the Daleks.
There’s a trailer for the next story with the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan called ‘Hexagora’.
Here are some more thoughts by me about ‘Choc-o-late’ For Nyssa – Is it bad for her?
‘The Elite’ rating – 9/10
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