Brave New Town was the third release of the second series of Big Finish Productions' Eighth Doctor Adventures audio stories. This story marked the first time that the Nestene Consciousness and the Autons had appeared in an audio story.
Publisher's summary Edit
It's like The Village That Time Forgot!
The inhabitants of the quiet seaside town of Thorington in Suffolk are living the same day over and over again. What's so special about the 1st of September 1991? Why haven't the villagers noticed that the same song has been number one for years? And just where on Earth has the sea disappeared to? The Doctor and Lucie must solve the mystery before the 'visitors' return...
For once, the Doctor manages to land by the ocean as planned; but it’s not Blackpool, as Lucie was hoping. Instead, some nearby ruins loom by the shore—and where is the sea? The Doctor assumes the tide is out, but Lucie is not so sure. Nearby, local newspaper shop owner Jason Taylor hears movement, and thinks it is his daughter Sally, who has been missing since yesterday; but it is a customer, Margaret. She buys a paper, and comments that the radios are all on the blink.
The Doctor assures Lucie that despite the sandy, dusty, post-apocalyptic atmosphere, it is actually 2008. He tells her that the area is safe, with no unusual radiation or diseases. They encounter a group of people headed to church; the Doctor avoids contact, thinking there is something strange about them. Lucie comments that their clothes are outdated; she calls the village “the village that time forgot”. This is supported by 1990s-era movie posters on a nearby wall. They check the newspaper shop and find it empty and without power; there are empty drink cans on a shelf, dated “best by October 1991”. Outside he encounters a police constable, who asks about the police box on the beach. He suggests that the Doctor is Sally Taylor’s “replacement”, as she has been missing since yesterday, which was Saturday...and so is today. The Doctor comments on the oddities of the town, and asks to accompany the constable on his rounds. Meanwhile, Lucie, still in the shop, knocks over some items in the gloom, unintentionally summoning Jason from upstairs. He realises she is new in town. He tells her it is 1 September, and that Sally left because he had a go at her for singing “that wretched song”—Bryan Adams’ “Everything I Do”. She returns to the Doctor before he leaves with constable Sharp; the Doctor asks her to stay with Jason and find more information; and if possible, any diaries left by the mysterious Sally.
Jason shows Lucie Sally’s bedroom, which he has begun to clean up. She jokes about Sally’s outdated CD collection, which dates back as far as 1988, when Lucie claims to have been born; Jason is puzzled, as he says that 1988 was only three years ago. Meanwhile Sharp takes the Doctor to a nearby fallout shelter, but Sally is not there; the constable reveals that there are two dozen public shelters in town, with most homes having private shelters as well. However, the Doctor notes that there is no food in the shelter; and he realises that no one has been seen to eat or drink yet, despite hours of searching.
Jason takes Lucie out on Sally’s paper route, which he is completing in her absence; but it is far from normal. Instead of delivering papers, he collects them from each doorstep, and returns the money; it is clear he will sell the same papers back tomorrow, which will also be Sunday, 1 September. When Lucie points this out, he laughs it off. Meanwhile, the Doctor and the PC arrive back at the beach, near the TARDIS, as the sun sets; the Doctor questions him about the town, and admits that he has seen no road out of town. Sharp says the town is Thorington in Suffolk, and suggests the sea is just out with the tide. They are interrupted by a tank with a thermal imager; to escape, the Doctor pulls Sharp into the TARDIS. Aboard the tank, a soldier named Vitas radios Captain McCarthy at headquarters and says that they have found the town, but there are no signs of life. McCarthy orders Vitas and her subordinate, Andropov, to take a proper scan with no shortcuts. Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor realises from Sharp’s reaction that he has no idea what the interior of a police box should look like. He explains that they can’t be detected here, and uses the scanner to watch the tank head into town.
Jason and Lucie see the tank coming, and Jason insists on finding a shelter despite the tank’s Union Jack flag, which Lucie thinks indicates it may be friendly. He says that they have always been told to go to a shelter in these circumstances, but he can’t recall who told them to do so. Lucie approaches the tank, but Vitas comes out and shoots her with a tranquilliser dart. She calls HQ and reaches a contact named Karimov, and speaks to him in Russian, but Karimov insists on English for McCarthy’s benefit. Vitas reports that they are bringing in Lucie as a suspect, and that there were no other life signs in the village. McCarthy insists Lucie could have been up to no good. Meanwhile the Doctor approaches the shelter and knocks, and when Sharp declares it safe, Jason emerges and tells them that Lucie left voluntarily. The Doctor wonders why the tank did not detect Jason; Jason attributes it to luck. Sharp leaves to see if anyone else was taken, and the Doctor follows the tank’s tracks in the sand.
Lucie recovers, by way of a dream about white rabbits. She finds herself in a hospital bed, watched by Karimov, who thinks she is American, but she tells him that she comes from Blackpool. He says it is 24 October 2008. He brings in McCarthy, who explains that she was brought from a ruined village ten miles away, which used to be an island. He says the area is restricted and under martial law, with its oil wells under military guard. He suspects she is an engineer, a mercenary, or simply a troublemaker.
With Jason, the Doctor has realised some things about the town—its island nature, and that no one eats or drinks. In fact, there is no food, drink, or electricity, and no petrol in the vehicles. He suspects that Sally, who was predisposed to leave, waded out as soon as the water was shallow enough. Jason confirms that there was a ferry in the old days, leading across to New Town. Soon Jason becomes able to see the ferry, which is not far away, though beached on the sand. The Doctor explains that it has been there all along; Jason simply couldn’t see it. Scratched in the side are the words “Sally was here”, but the ferry has been abandoned for years. Inside it, the Doctor finds some charts, which are written in Cyrillic! The town, it seems, is not in England; it’s in what was the Aral Sea, in Uzbekistan! While the Doctor tries to dredge up his knowledge of Uzbekistan, Jason says he can hear a voice in his head, calling him.
Karimov tells Lucie that during the Soviet Union’s rule, this area was a combination of a beach resort and a spy training centre. Thus the village: it was built to allow spies to practice behaving like the English. However, Karimov says it all came to an end in 1991. On 1 September 1991, Uzbekistan gained its independence; shortly thereafter, most of the water of the Aral Sea was diverted for agriculture and recreation. On the bright side, this allows drilling for oil in the area. However, Karimov can’t explain why there are British mercenaries guarding the oilfields. Meanwhile, Vitas tells McCarthy that a teenaged girl is by the oil derricks to the southwest; McCarthy orders that she be shot.
The Doctor and Jason reach the oil derricks, just in time for gunshots to ring out. They take cover, but it isn’t them that the soldiers are shooting at; it’s Sally. As soon as they can get clear, they approach her, but she insists that Jason is not her father, but a part of “the Mind”. She insists that “the essence” must be preserved at all costs, and she runs off. The wells are now on fire, and he drags Jason away. Jason realises that Sally must have set the fires; suddenly there is a great explosion. The explosion triggers an alarm at HQ, and McCarthy tells Lucie that Vitas found another saboteur, but failed to stop her. He warns Karimov not to get too cosy with Lucie, who may also be “one of them”. He locks her into the infirmary and posts guards, and takes Karimov to check things out.
Jason is struck with a headache, and a voice in his head says that “contact has been restored”. It calls him back to his “place of origin”, to the “Mother Consciousness”. When he tells the Doctor, the Doctor realises that the voice is coming from somewhere near the wells, and approaching would be unsafe for Jason; also, Sally is probably hearing the voice as well. The voice seems to get stronger as they approach New Town. Meanwhile, in the village, Margaret meets with Sharp, and finds that they both are hearing the voice. Sharp rounds up everyone in the village and brings them to the sea bed to hear the voice. In the infirmary, Lucie begs to use the restroom, and the guards grudgingly agree, threatening to shoot her if she tries to escape. The Doctor and Jason are met by Vitas in another tank; she holds them at gunpoint and summons McCarthy. As he arrives, Jason’s headache returns, and he cries out in pain, saying he can hear the voice again.
While Lucie is in the restroom, she hears the guards outside being gunned down, and hears a strange weapon. Outside the restroom door, she finds Sally waiting, but the girl tells Lucie that she will be dead if she makes a move. Meanwhile, Jason apologises to the Doctor for what he is about to do, but the voice’s instructions are clear. His hand opens to reveal an Auton weapon, and he fires on the Doctor, but misses. The Doctor laments that he should have expected this. Vitas returns fire as Jason runs off.
Lucie tells Sally she is a friend of her father, but Sally says that her father should be focusing on the people destroying the planet. She has an Auton gun in her wrist; and she says she came to the base to steal grenades. She is wounded, but there is no blood. The voice warns her that Lucie is not one of them, and tells her to leave; she leaves Lucie alive as she goes. At the oil field, McCarthy suggests the Doctor may be bulletproof like Jason, but the Doctor says he has just become sure that Jason is not human. Lucie is heard on the radio, and she reveals that Sally killed the guards. She compares notes with the Doctor regarding their encounters.
The voice is the Nestene Consciousness, and it tells the Auton villagers that the humans are against them, and plan to destroy the essence of the Auton race. It will stop the humans at any cost.
Soon, Sally and Jason are reunited, and make up. However, they both hear the voice of the Nestene Consciousness.
McCarthy sends Vitas to secure the base. Lucie reunites with the Doctor. The Doctor explains the Autons to McCarthy, but the man is sceptical. Lucie explains about the former spy training centre; the Doctor suspects the spies were mostly Autons. It sounds laughable, but makes sense; they have no physical needs, and don’t show up on thermal scanners. What humans existed in the village would have left on 1 September 1991, leaving behind only the Autons. The Autons kept up the illusion for years, until the water dropped and access to the mainland became possible. Still, something is missing from their understanding...he asks to see the thermal recording of Jason’s escape. Meanwhile, the Auton residents have gathered by the former shore, and await orders. The voice calls them closer, and tells them they must be united against the humans. The Autons retain enough independence to question this briefly; they thought they were humans. Sharp has no answer for this.
The thermal scan reveals that Jason is mostly invisible to heat scanning, but that a tiny bit of heat is in his chest. The Doctor states that this is a bit of the Nestene Consciousness. If all the Autons have it, it makes them something new—autonomous Autons, which don’t rely on contact with the Consciousness in one central location. He suggests that Nestene meteorites must have fallen in the Soviet days, and been experimented upon. There should be records; McCarthy says he thinks he may know where they are—and leads them to a dump. They find the documents, which are unfortunately—but predictably—written in Russian.
Vitas contacts McCarthy, and tells him that thirty to forty villagers have been sighted, approaching on the sea bed. He orders her to dispatch a mortar team; these are no ordinary civilians, after all...
Lucy finds the Nestene’s energy unit inside an old urn at the dump. Prior to this, it was shielded by the bunker from which McCarthy tossed out the rubbish, which is why the villagers never before heard the voice. Now, it is broadcasting, and calling them to arms. He explains that their first act—via Sally—was to destroy the wells, not because they are environmentalists, but because they want the oil for themselves; oil is the source material for plastics, and they can use it to make more Autons. McCarthy plans to destroy the villagers, but the Doctor insists that they are innocent if separated from the voice; he wants to seal the energy unit back inside the bunker permanently, freeing the Auton villagers. McCarthy sends Karimov for explosives to seal the bunker, but promises to stop the Autons himself if the Doctor fails.
The Doctor sends Lucie to safety via radio, and puts the unit in the bunker. He is confronted by Jason and Sally, who now have trouble hearing the voice. Jason is persuaded to let it go, but Sally threatens the Doctor with her gun, and orders him to re-open the bunker. Meanwhile the Auton villagers are confused, having lost the voice; however, Sharp suggests continuing toward New Town in case they catch the voice again.
Jason and the Doctor try to talk Sally down, and the Doctor tells her he can stop the voice forever; but she threatens to kill him if he does so. The Doctor carefully eases them away from the bunker, and surreptitiously activates the radio so that Lucie and Karimov can hear them. The two Autons conclude they no longer know who or what they are; the Doctor promises them that they can decide, and don’t need the voice to do it for them. With no option, he reveals that they each contain a fragment of the Consciousness inside them. He lets out a coded message to Karimov, telling him to activate the explosives, as he has reached a safe distance. However, nothing happens, and Karimov suspects the wiring to the dynamite is damaged. Lucie goes to check.
With the villagers still approaching, and no explosion as yet, McCarthy orders Vitas to prepare to fire.
At Karimov’s direction, Lucie finds the break in the wiring, and reconnects it, setting off the explosion. On the seabed, the villagers are suddenly returned to normal, and can’t remember why Sharp led them out here; he can’t recall either, and they begin to head back home. McCarthy tells Vitas to stand down.
A little later, the Doctor pulls up on the sea bed in a bus and collects the villagers for a ride home. Meanwhile, McCarthy and Karimov discuss the Autons, and conclude—as others did before them—that these people would be unsafe if unleashed on the world, but could make very lucrative spies and soldiers. In fact, the Doctor should stay on as their scientific advisor...he sends Vitas to collect the Doctor for the good news.
The Doctor speaks with Jason and the others about their future, and tells them to stick together at all costs; there is safety in numbers. In the meantime, he may be able to persuade McCarthy to restore the power and make repairs to the village. They see Vitas’ armoured personnel carrier approaching in a hurry, and so the Doctor and Lucie say goodbye and head for the TARDIS. Vitas sees them enter it, and then sees it dematerialise; reluctantly she reports back to McCarthy.
Aboard the TARDIS, the Doctor and Lucie discuss the Autons. He doesn’t know what will happen to them, but at least now they have a chance.
- The Doctor - Paul McGann
- Lucie Miller - Sheridan Smith
- Jason Taylor - Derek Griffiths
- McCarthy - Adrian Dunbar
- Sally Taylor - Lorna Want
- PC Sharp/Karimov - Nick Wilton
- Margaret/Vitas - Katarina Olsson
- This story marks the first appearance of the Nestene Consciousness and the Autons in an audio drama.
- This audio drama was recorded on 14 August 2007 at The Moat Studios.
- In this story, Lucie makes specific reference to not being able to read Russian, an example of the apparently inconsistently limited functionality of the translation circuit.
- The story was broadcast on BBC Radio 7 on 2 November 2008.
- During his second incarnation, the Doctor previously visited Uzbekistan in August 1919 in the company of Jamie McCrimmon and Zoe Heriot. (AUDIO: The Memory Cheats)
- Sentient Autons like the ones seen in this story would later appear in TV: The Pandorica Opens.
- The Doctor mentions the Auton meteorites that fell to Earth in the 1970s. (TV: Spearhead from Space)
- The events of this audio are still in the Doctor's memory when he is in his tenth incarnation. (PROSE: Autonomy)
- Official Brave New Town page at bigfinish.com
- DisContinuity for Brave New Town at Tetrapyriarbus - The DisContinuity Guide