Bang-Bang-a-Boom! was the thirty-ninth story in Big Finish's monthly range. It was written by Gareth Roberts and Clayton Hickman and featured Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor and Bonnie Langford as Melanie Bush.
As with the prior Mel story, The One Doctor, it was in many ways a parody — though this time of Star Trek, the Eurovision Song Contest and the classic Gerry Anderson 1970s show Space: 1999. Indeed, the title itself is a pun on "Boom Bang-a-Bang", the 1969 song by Lulu that gave a Eurovision win to the United Kingdom.
Publisher's summary Edit
Dark Space 8 — an advanced monitoring station floating serenely among the stars. Its crew — a dedicated and highly-skilled group of professionals, calmly going about their vital work. Its mission — to boldly host the Intergalactic Song Contest.
With representatives from myriad worlds competing, the eyes of the universe are on the station. But dark deeds are afoot aboard Dark Space 8... and people are starting to die.
The haughty Queen Angvia; the gaseous gestalt Gholos; disposable pop idol Nicky Newman; erratic Professor Fassbinder; and the icily-efficient Dr Eleanor Harcourt — all are suspects. Could old political rivalries be manifesting themselves among the contestants? Is this the work of a breakaway terrorist faction? Or has someone just got it in for singer-songwriters?
With peace in the galaxy hanging by a thread, it's vital that the mystery is solved — and fast! Can Dark Space 8's unconventional new commander, with the help of his personal pilot, Mel, find the murderer in time to prevent a major intergalactic war?
Or will it be nul points for the entire universe...?
Part 1 Edit
The aging space station Dark Space 8 is mostly retired from saving the universe, much to the chagrin of its crew; but it is busy today, hosting the 309th Intergalactic Song Contest, which is being broadcast live to the galaxy under the leadership of famed presenter Logan. It includes two worlds with a history of war: Angvia, and the gestalt entity Gholos (whose representative is also called Gholos, as per its hive mind nature).
Complicating things is the fact that Dark Space 8 is without a commander, Commander Paul Keele having died of Orion flu against the efforts of medic Eleanor Harcourt. A replacement, Commander John Ballard, is en route by shuttle — but Lieutenant Strindberg can't contact it, and Professor Ivor Fassbinder detects fluctuating chronon energy around it.
The TARDIS materialises aboard the shuttle, a long way from its intended destination of Paris. The Seventh Doctor and Mel find two bodies aboard, and a bomb attached to the shuttle. They try to flee to the TARDIS, but fail to make it in time — but Strindberg teleports them aboard Dark Space 8 just in time, as the shuttle explodes. Eleanor, the officer in charge, assumes they are Ballard and his pilot, and they play along for now. She shows them to "their" quarters, but en route, they encounter the Gholos representative — which looks like candy floss and does not speak English — and its human translator, Loozly. For once, even the Doctor is stymied by a language, and must rely on Loozly. Loozly demands an explanation for the explosion, and claims that its blast pattern indicates it was an Angvian scatter bomb. As Queen Angvia arrives, Loozly, along with another contestant from Cyrene, accuses her of attacking the Commander, and of threatening Gholos. Angvia dismisses this, but complains that her billing in the contest is too far down in the order. The Doctor, in his assumed role as commander, changes the running order to alphabetical, then heads for his quarters with Mel. He explains about the war between Angvia and Gholos, and says that this is a crucial moment; the two combatants are holding a peace conference on the Achilles 4 station. Mel suggests that the Doctor have Fassbinder — who is oddly distracted — scan the shuttle wreckage and find the TARDIS. She also warns the Doctor that the real murderer of Commander Ballard may assume he failed, and target the Doctor.
Contestants continue to arrive as Logan provides commentary and Eleanor makes a log entry. Mel checks in on Fassbinder while the Doctor is summoned to the command deck to deal with Angvia, who is complaining about being quartered next to Gholos. The contest's arbiter, the mouselike Geri Pakhar, is also on hand, and helps the Doctor change up the housing arrangements; as they do so, Gholos and Loozly arrive to complain about the arrangements, but leave when they find it is already resolved. Eleanor takes the opportunity to cozy up to the "Commander". Meanwhile, Fassbinder tells Mel he found nothing in the scans; he promises to keep her posted, but she suspects he is hiding something. On her way out, she meets a young man named Nicky Newman, Earth's representative to the contest. He is delighted to learn she doesn't know him, as he is used to being universally recognised, and he becomes enchanted with her. Meanwhile, Geri compliments the Doctor, and admits that she is concerned for her sister Teri, who is an observer of the conference on Achilles 4. Suddenly an alarm goes off in the guest quarters. Mel and Nicky respond, and find the Cyrene contestant dead — and it is clearly murder.
Part 2 Edit
Eleanor, the Doctor, Geri, and Fassbinder all respond to the alarm, meeting up with Mel and Nicky. Geri asks "the doctor" what has happened; the Doctor nearly answers before realising it was addressed to Eleanor. Eleanor insists there was no foul play, but the Doctor finds two puncture wounds. Eleanor takes her to sickbay, while the others go to the guest lounge. Gholos, Loozly, and Angvia arrive; Loozly — on Gholos's behalf — accuses Angvia of the murder and demands the contest be cancelled. The Doctor refuses, knowing this news could also disrupt the peace conference. Loozly and Gholos leave in anger, and Angvia warns the Doctor about the Gholos's infamous "blue sting" which has allegedly killed many Angvians. Nicky speculates that this is what killed Cyrene, but the Doctor withholds opinion, and the group disperses. Nicky arranges to meet with Mel again later. Fassbinder returns to his lab, but remarks on how odd it is for a Pakhar — who are top-level diplomats — to be judging a simple competition. Geri takes offense, calling the appointment prestigious. Meanwhile the Doctor sends Mel to search Cyrene's quarters, and sends a cover story to Logan so as to conceal the death. Eleanor cannot identify the poison in Cyrene's system, and the TARDIS is still missing.
In Cyrene's quarters, Mel is approached by Gholos, who turns red and becomes loud in its native language. Loozly arrives and calls Gholos off, claiming that he too was searching for evidence, but took Mel's presence as an attack. When she refers to Gholos as a "thing", Loozly becomes offended, and departs with the still-noisy Gholos. Nicky arrives, and Mel tells him that Gholos tried to kill her. Meanwhile, Fassbinder is working on the cause of the shuttle explosion, while Eleanor subtly comes on to the Doctor, ensuring him that she is available to him as she was to the previous commander. Strindberg announces that Achilles 4 is under attack by Angvian separatists, dooming the peace conference. What is there to do, then, but make this contest the best it could be!
Lounging in the station's pool, Nicky and Mel talk; he begins to rant about his life and its lack of privacy. The constant screaming fans cause him headaches; but on the flight over to Dark Space 8, Loozly was kind enough to give him an aspirin for it. He admits that this career path makes him cripplingly anxious, but he has too much invested to stop now. He is summoned to an interview, and Mel advises him to ignore it, prompting him to snap at her for not understanding. She returns to the guest lounge, where Loozly sits, listening to Logan's commentary. Logan comments that critics have panned him for commenting on songs when he can't pronounce the names, but to combat this, he has built his own translation device this year. Loozly says that Gholos is resting, and shows Mel a device for monitoring Gholos's vitals, as separation from the gestalt can be stressful. He apologises for his rudeness, but admits that he is uncomfortable with humans, and is only happy on the Gholos world, a planet of gestalt mental energy.
The Doctor goes to his ready room, and learns that the attack on Achilles 4 has been repelled. Mel joins him, but shortly thereafter, they receive a note under the door, which says to "beware the pits of Angvia' — an odd reference, as there are no actual pits on Angvia. Mel decides to search Fassbinder's lab, while the Doctor meets Angvia in the dining hall at her request. To his shock, she declares her romantic intentions toward him, and drags him across the table to kiss him — and to his further shock, he finds himself reciprocating. Meanwhile, Mel meets Nicky coming out of the sickbay, where Eleanor has given him pills for his anxiety and its symptoms. He apologises for his rudeness, and Mel recruits his help. They break into the lab — but then Logan staggers in, and falls to the floor, dead from a stab wound in the back.
Part 3 Edit
The Doctor is completely taken in by Angvia; but before he can consummate the relationship, Strindberg interrupts and calls him to the command deck. He promises Angvia to return, but he remains affected by her; he shows little interest at the report of Logan's murder. Eleanor decides she may need to snap him out of it with her own romantic charms...but first there's an autopsy to complete. Mel also notices the strange behaviour, but is busy with Nicky, who is unexpectedly happy at the idea of stopping the contest. However, Loozly no longer wants to stop it; or rather, as he insists, Gholos wants it to go on. Meanwhile Eleanor's tests on Logan are inconclusive; and the Doctor orders that the contest proceed. Nicky returns to his quarters to relax, as his medicines have not helped. Gholos and Loozly also go to prepare. Mel pulls the Doctor aside and interrogates him; he slowly begins to realise that he is acting bizarrely, especially with regard to Angvia; some things he simply never does, and with her?! He snaps out of it to assess the murder, and quickly deduces the motive — but he keeps it to himself, to Mel's irritation. Mel leaves to find Fassbinder, who is still missing. The Doctor questions Eleanor about Fassbinder, and she insists she trusts him. She leaves when Angvia arrives; the queen attempts to resume her seduction of the Doctor, but he reluctantly rejects her. She is shocked at this, and bursts into tears before leaving. The Doctor sets his mind to why he is apparently falling for her.
Strindberg — who has no public speaking experience — fills in (badly) for Logan as commentator. Nicky apologises with roses for Mel, who then recruits him to find Fassbinder. They find him at the back of the main hall. Mel tries to accuse him of killing Logan and falsifying his sensor scans, but he isn't listening; he is babbling to himself. Mel and Nicky take him to Eleanor in sickbay. While Eleanor prepares to run tests, the Doctor reaches a simpler conclusion: Fassbinder is gesturing at his neck, where puncture wounds are found. It seems he has been poisoned — not a murderer, then, but a victim. Before he dies, he admits the truth: for years, he's been just spouting gibberish and technobabble instead of actual useful information, and in point of fact he's spent most of their adventures drunk. However, before he can reveal the murderer, he dies.
The Doctor locks down security, but mystifyingly, he allows the contest to proceed. He takes Mel back to the ready room to confer. They conclude that, if Fassbinder couldn't run a proper scan, the TARDIS is probably still out there. He sends Mel to watch the concert hall. Gholos arrives, appearing very distressed, but Loozly arrives to translate, and claims that Gholos is accusing Angvia of murdering Fassbinder. The Doctor promises to investigate, and the duo leaves. As they do so, Geri calls the Doctor and says that Angvia has been knocked out in her dressing room. Meanwhile the contest is beginning. Nicky remains ill, and is not helped when Geri rushes past, revealing to Nicky and Mel that Angvia has been attacked. Mel begins to suspect Geri; after all, who would? Thus making her a suspect that no one would, well, suspect. Mel and Nicky follow Geri to an empty corridor, and witness her contacting her home base against the Doctor's lockdown order. She reassures her superiors that everything is going to plan. This convinces Mel that she is responsible, and Mel tries to restrain her; but in the struggle, Geri hits her head on the floor. Has Mel killed the arbiter?
Eleanor has been unsuccessful at reviving Angvia. In fact, as the Doctor notes, she is generally unsuccessful at everything she attempts. He steps in and uses smelling salts to revive Angvia. In delirium, Angvia talks about trade sanctions and Gholos incursion into Angvian space — information which might be crucial, but is too late in coming; Mel is bringing Geri to sickbay. Angrily, the Doctor sends Nicky to prepare for his song, and then berates Mel for attacking Geri, whom they need. He explains the presence of Geri, a high-ranking Pakhar diplomat, at a simple competition: it's no simple competition. The peace conference on Achilles 4 is a decoy, and the real peace conference...is here.
Part 4 Edit
The Doctor explains that Angvia's ramblings revealed the truth. The Achilles 4 conference was a decoy for the terrorists to attack; instead, Nicky, Angvia, and Gholos carry psychic imprints of the real delegates in their subconscious minds. Using telepathic abilities, the imprinted delegates have been conducting the real peace conference all this time, under the cover of the contest. Geri's presence is not actually intended to mediate the contest, but rather, the peace conference. The Doctor announces that he knows who the murderer is, and gathers everyone in the guest lounge — including Geri, whom Eleanor has just revived using the Doctor's smelling salts. Angvia, however, must go onstage first, as her turn has arrived. The Doctor stops to chat privately with Geri before entering the guest lounge. Angvia makes her performance, and then joins them. When the Doctor and Geri arrive last, they are bearing a strange device.
The Doctor explains the truth about the conference. He then exposes the truth about Eleanor, who is not a real doctor after all. She admits it; she came to Dark Space 8 as a stowaway years earlier, and then lied about her qualifications. She was as surprised as anyone when she was taken at face value; and she eventually became chief medical officer. She denies involvement with the murders, however, and the Doctor concurs. He then confronts Nicky, who is still suffering from his fears; he agrees that Nicky is not the murderer, but suggests that Nicky should realise that his fears are trivial.
This still leaves the killer unrevealed, however. The Doctor reveals that the shuttle was destroyed by an Angvian scatter bomb; Angvian poisons killed Cyrene and Fassbinder; and Angvia used her race's impressive pheromone array to seduce the Doctor. That was the purpose of Geri's note about the "pits of Angvia"; the queen's pheromone glands are located in her armpits. Of course this makes Angvia the obvious suspect — but perhaps it's too obvious. Thus, the Doctor activates the device: Logan's translator. Gholos can now speak without Loozly's help, albeit in Logan's voice. The gestalt entity instantly accuses Loozly of the murders. Loozly admits it; he is strongly opposed to peace with Angvia, perhaps more so than Gholos himself. His contacts back in Earth Security had leaked the truth about the conference; and so he arranged to accompany Gholos and began sabotaging the conference. However, his attempts to frame Angvia failed, not through his own incompetence, but through the incompetence of the medical officer and science officer who should have noticed his planted clues. Gholos admits that earlier, he was not attacking Mel, but trying to warn her; unfortunately no one could understand him. Loozly's alleged health-monitoring device was actually compelling obedience from Gholos. Loozly killed Logan in order to prevent the commentator from using his translator on Gholos. Fassbinder, it seems, had somehow managed to work out the truth, and thus was also killed.
Loozly insists his actions were to preserve the Gholos gestalt from corruption. He takes Angvia hostage, and insists that he has the detonator for a bomb that will destroy the station. Gholos steps in and kills him using the "blue sting of Gholos", thus freeing Angvia and dealing out justice for himself. Angvia offers to consider peace with Gholos. Nicky is still anxious, but is ready to go onstage. Gholos and Geri return to their duties, and the Doctor — unhappily — has Eleanor arrested for impersonating a doctor. It's time for he and Mel to leave, and the ending theme plays...
...Until Mel stops him. It's all been too easily concluded, but there's still one question: Where's the bomb? Security fails to find it anywhere. Angvia says that an Angvian personal destructor would work perfectly; it consists of a tiny fragment of black star matter inside a pill. When swallowed, it attaches to the digestive tract. When the carrier is agitated enough, the pill dissolves, and the fragment explodes with the force of fifty Angvian scatter bombs. Mel makes the connection at once: en route to the station, Loozly gave Nicky a headache pill. And Nicky is about to go on stage, where his anxiety will skyrocket.
The crowd is singing the Earth anthem, "I Will Survive", giving the Doctor and Mel just enough time to catch Nicky. The Doctor sends him with Mel back to his cabin. Nicky, thinking that Mel is coming on to him, begins to get equally excited in a different way; and Mel gives up and knocks him out. Meanwhile, the Doctor goes onstage in Nicky's place, and plays the spoons to a techno-pop background song — and against all odds, the crowd goes wild. After the performance, the Doctor runs and retrieves Eleanor. Despite her lack of qualifications, he insists that she has enough practical experience that she is the only one who can remove the bomb from Nicky. She manages to do so; and as Nicky's imprint isn't available to finish the negotiations, the Doctor steps in and does so. The negotiations are successful, and after centuries, both sides agree to peace.
The contest has entered the voting phase as Mel locates the TARDIS and has it brought aboard. She assures Nicky that he can handle the uproar from his failure to appear. The jig is up, however; Geri receives a message from Earth with an image of the real Commander John Ballard, and the Doctor is clearly not him. He tells the truth, which explains to Angvia why he could resist her; he isn't human, and she never expected to seduce one of the legendary Time Lords. The contest ends most unexpectedly: the Doctor, or rather, "Commander Ballard", wins! He takes this opportunity to get Mel into the TARDIS and slip away.
In the aftermath, Eleanor is found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison, but her sentence is mitigated by her efforts in saving Nicky's life. Upon release, she enrolls as a student in a teaching hospital...and forges a close relationship with her department head.
- The Doctor - Sylvester McCoy
- Melanie Bush - Bonnie Langford
- Dr. Eleanor Harcourt - Sabina Franklyn
- Professor Ivor Fassbinder - Graeme Garden
- Lieutenant Strindberg - Vidar Magnussen
- Loozly - Nickolas Grace
- Angvia - Patricia Quinn
- Nicky Newman - Anthony Spargo
- Geri / Cyrene - Jane Goddard
- Logan - David Tughan
- News anchorman - Gareth Roberts
- Robot waiter / Tannoy voice - Barnaby Edwards
- Ice Warrior juror / Announcer - Nicholas Pegg
- The Breebles - Gareth Jenkins
- The Breebles - Andy Hardwick
- Continuity announcer - Nicholas Briggs
The Doctor Edit
- The Doctor previously placed a whistle in Mel's pocket.
- Mel jokingly suggests that the Doctor may be having "a mid-regeneration crisis."
- The Doctor describes the Tudors as "splendid chaps, all of them."
- Dr Eleanor Harcourt enjoyed a close personal relationship with Commander Keele before his death.
- The readers of Entropy Magazine voted Nicky Newman as the fifth most famous person in the galaxy.
- Both Mel and Commentator Logan refer to Queen Angvia as a "valkyrie."
- The Doctor refers to René Descartes as an "old friend."
- Angvia is the fourteenth queen of the House of Silcitor.
The TARDIS Edit
Space stations Edit
- Dark Space 8's previous commanding officer Paul Keele died of the Orion flu. He was infected with it while in the process of defeating a silicon-based lifeform which intended to enslave all carbon-based lifeforms.
- Achilles 4 is the host to the All Worlds Peace Convention. Golos and Angvia are parties to the convention.
- Star Island 12 contains the Earth embassy of the Shak'Rok Empire.
Intergalactic Song Contest Edit
- There have been 308 previous Intergalactic Song Contests.
- Contestants in the 309th contest include Earth (represented by Nicky Newman), Mars, Ferazferon, the Cissadian Cephalopods, Drahva (represented by Maaga 29), the Architects of Algol, the Breebles and the Freznixx of Braal.
- Songs featured include Drahva's Clone Love, Argol's Don't Push Your Tentacle Too Far (sung by Billionus Groo-Fang of the Arkol star cluster), and Angvia's Gozraj-a-dett (My Love is as Limitless as a Black Hole, and I'm Pulling You Over the Event Horizon).
- Representing Earth in lieu of Nicky Newman, the Doctor wins the Intergalactic Song Contest by playing the spoons.
- Ice Warriors vote in the Intergalactic Song Contest.
- During their conflict, Golos broke the Tenebros IV peace treaty and the Fringe Worlds of the Zordon Nebula were settled by Angvia in violation of this treaty. However, Queen Angvia claims that they were invited in by the natives.
Foods and beverages Edit
- The Doctor recalls the delights of the pastry chefs on Barastabon.
- The Intergalactic Song Contest and its commentator Logan spoofs the Eurovision Song Contest and its long-serving BBC commentator Terry Wogan.
- Dr Harcourt's line about the contest being "the last, best hope for peace" between Angvia and Golos is a direct quote from the opening monologue of Season 1 of Babylon 5. However, the way it is spoken, as well as the character's voice itself is reminiscent of the Dr Helena Russell character from Space: 1999. During that show's second season, her character often gave a medical status report featured in many episodes. Her character was also romantically attached to the base's commander - John Koenig. Professor Ivor Fassbinder was an affectionate nod to the first season Space: 1999 character Victor Bergman.
- At one point, a character mentions the Zordon Nebula, a reference to the character from "Power Rangers".
- Angvia (the name of Patricia Quinn's character) is a deliberate anagram of "vagina".
- This is the second Christmas comedy release, the first being AUDIO: The One Doctor.
- There is a false ending during Part 4 where the theme music starts and then cuts out as Mel points out that the supposed resolution was "too easy."
- The title is a reworking of Lulu's winning 1969 Eurovision entry Boom-Bang-A-Bang.
- This was the first audio production to feature the period appropriate arrangement of the Doctor Who theme, in this case, that arranged by Keff McCulloch.
- The cover colour scheme echoes the poster for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
- This audio drama was recorded on 1 and 2 October 2002 at The Moat Studios.
- aHistory arbitrarily dates this story to 3950, as it seems to take place during the Federation period.
- Russell Stone's score to the story, alongside the scores to Dust Breeding and The Rapture was released on the CD Music from the Seventh Doctor Audio Adventures.
Star Trek parodies Edit
This story generally spoofs the Star Trek franchise and its storytelling styles. The more direct examples of this include:
- "Dark Space 8" is a direct spoof of Deep Space 9, both in name and in function as an outpost serving as a hub to many species.
- The "Captain's log" style voiceovers.
- The United Federation of Planets-style command structure and clearly-defined crew.
- The repeated catchphrases of the crewmembers.
- Over the course of the previous seven years, the crew had dealt with a sweat vampire, an alien claiming to be God, a plague which stripped them of their inhibitions and a silicon-based lifeform which threatened to enslave all other lifeforms. Furthermore, Dr. Harcourt's reference to the space station's senior officers being sent back in time to medieval Wales would appear to be a reference to the numerous time travel episodes of Star Trek.
- Fassbinder's made-up technobabble echoes Star Trek's style. The name "Fassbinder" may be deliberately similar to the term "Feinberger" in Star Trek, which was the behind-the-scenes term to refer to Dr. McCoy's diagnostic instruments and other such props (after property master Irving Feinberg).
- Several of the musical cues deliberately echo elements from Star Trek: The Original Series.
- Pakhars first appeared in PROSE: Legacy.
- The Third Doctor previously impersonated a commanding officer in order to salvage a peace process on Peladon in the 39th century. (TV: The Curse of Peladon)
- Mel describes the Doctor's propensity to mangle and combine Earth proverbs as "really annoying." (TV: Time and the Rani)
- The Doctor refers to the Masterbakers of Barastabon. (AUDIO: The Church and the Crown, The One Doctor)
- The Doctor remembers Mel's problems with lifts. (TV: Paradise Towers)
- The Breebles and Earth's anthem both featured among Mentos' Super Brain questions. (AUDIO: The One Doctor)
- Nicky Newman subsequently won the Intergalactic Song Contest. The renegade Time Lady Iris Wildthyme was in attendance and met her future husband Sam Gold. (AUDIO: The Sound of Fear)
- Official Bang-Bang-a-Boom! page at bigfinish.com
- DisContinuity for Bang-Bang-a-Boom! at Tetrapyriarbus - The DisContinuity Guide