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Storm Warning was the sixteenth monthly Doctor Who audio story produced by Big Finish Productions. Released in January 2001, this was the first audio story to feature Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor, his first time reprising the role in a full cast story since the 1996 television movie, which was his first on-screen appearance as the Doctor.

Publisher's summary Edit

October, 1930. His Majesty's Airship, the R101, sets off on her maiden voyage to the farthest-flung reaches of the British Empire, carrying the brightest lights of the Imperial fleet. Carrying the hopes and dreams of a breathless nation.

Not to mention a ruthless spy with a top-secret mission, a mysterious passenger who appears nowhere on the crew list, a would-be adventuress destined for the Singapore Hilton... and a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey.

There's a storm coming. There's something unspeakable — something with wings, crawling across the stern. Thousands of feet high in the blackening sky, the crew of the R101 brace themselves. When the storm breaks, their lives won't be all that's at stake...

The future of the galaxy will be hanging by a thread.

Plot Edit

Travelling alone, the Eighth Doctor is having a difficult time in the Vortex when he tries to save a strange timeship that is stuck in a time-loop. He manages to push the ship out of its loop, but his own TARDIS is damaged, and attacked by Vortex-dwelling saurians called Vortisaurs.

It's October 1930, and a massive British airship, the R101, is on its maiden voyage. Its co-designer, Lieutenant Colonel Frayling, goes to the dignitary in charge, Lord Tamworth, with fears about the condition of the ship, but he is shrugged off. There is a mysterious passenger in cabin 43, and unaccounted cargo in the holds...Tamworth sends his valet, Rathbone, to check on the passenger in 43. Meanwhile, a junior steward has been replaced; a girl named Charlotte Pollard has taken his place, seeking adventure. Unfortunately, she's found out by Tamworth and the head steward, Weeks. At the same time, the Doctor lands, barely escaping the Vortisaurs; but, minutes later, ballast tank three is purged, sending the TARDIS plunging out of the ship.

A storm is coming, and Frayling's concern increases, but Tamworth insists on proceeding to a rendezvous that is only an hour away. The ship, meanwhile, is struck by something: A vortisaur has followed the TARDIS out of the Vortex! The Doctor passes by cabin 43 and is intrigued by strange sounds from inside; as he eavesdrops, Charley runs into him. She decides to join him in his efforts, escaping Weeks in the process, although she doesn't accept his odd claims about the past and future. However, she is alarmed when he warns her that the R101 is due to crash in the early hours of the next morning. Inside cabin 43, Rathbone is having a problem with his passenger; but the Vortisaur breaks through the porthole and grabs him. Weeks, Charley, and the Doctor all burst into the cabin, and the Doctor drives the Vortisaur away; but it has now tasted blood, and will inevitably return. The Doctor is now interested in the passenger, which is—oddly—sealed inside a deep-sea diver's suit. Rathbone threatens the Doctor with a gun; Charley, meanwhile, calms the passenger. Therefore Rathbone allows her to stay (and soon makes unwelcome sexual advances toward her), and sends the Doctor and Weeks to deal with the Vortisaur. The Doctor is able to draw it back to the airship with his own blood, and knocks it out with a heavy dose of morphine, he locks it in the galley. He meets with Lord Tamworth, who believes him (and, later, Charley) to be a German spy, the Doctor goes with the role, calling himself "Doctor Johann Schmidt" of the Zeppelin company. He offers to see to the passenger in 43; Tamworth agrees, but before leaving with the Doctor, orders Frayling to take the ship up to 5000 feet.

Back at Cabin 43, the Doctor realises that the oxygen mix necessary for the clearly-extraterrestrial passenger is not safe at this altitude, due to the pressure difference. He removes the helmet, allowing the passenger to breathe...and revealing that it is not human. Rathbone is revolted, but Charley is sympathetic; her kindness earns her the creature's favour. However, they have reached the rendezvous point. Tamworth escorts them all to the passenger lounge, where he speaks to the assembled VIPs, and tells them that they are now ambassadors for Britain to an otherworldly civilisation. They are met, then, by an enormous flying saucer.

Facing the saucer, the alien has recovered. It announces that its people are the Triskele, and its title is Engineer Prime. The Doctor outs Rathbone as a British Intelligence agent, whose job—to keep the alien safe—is now at an end. The saucer admits the R101 to its interior. Charley now sees that the Doctor's claims were true, and she believes him. The Engineer Prime allows only three representatives on the Triskele ship; it chooses Tamworth, Frayling, and the Doctor. Tamworth admits to the Doctor that he is worried about what Rathbone may do if left unattended on the R101; and indeed, Rathbone sends the crew to unpack the mysterious cargo crates—which are full of weapons. Tamworth explains the circumstances that led to contact with the aliens, via the Engineer Prime; he also mentions something called "Uncreators", which the Engineer fears. The Engineer uses a travel platform in the shape of a three-armed symbol, commonly called a triskelion, to get them around the ship; the Doctor has seen such symbols on many worlds, and realises the Triskele are old indeed. But soon they learn a greater wonder: The Triskele, once unified being, split themselves into three parts after a history of terrible conquest. There are the Engineers, the creative and mostly peaceful aspect; the Uncreators, the destructive and warlike aspect; and the Lawgivers, who control both.

The three aspects have chosen the three from the R101 as their representatives. Frayling, a builder and designer, represents the Engineers; the Doctor, a neutral party, represents the Lawgivers; and Tamworth, an old soldier, represents the Uncreators. But Tamworth admits that, though he once fought in a war, he has no taste for it; the Uncreator Prime insists the Engineers have cheated the Uncreators. It summons Rathbone instead, as it considers him a true Uncreator.

Only one Lawgiver remains, and it is dying; of the three parts, only the Lawgivers cannot reproduce. Therefore they have summoned the humans (and the Doctor) to reorder their society and provide a new solution. A lawgiver chosen from Engineers or Uncreators would represent only one side, and that is unacceptable. When the Uncreator Prime mentions Rathbone, Tamworth remembers that he must get back; Rathbone had orders to be carried out if Tamworth was gone more than half an hour, and they are not good. But it is already too late. Rathbone is leading the airship's crew out to take the Triskele vessel by force. Charley and Weeks follow him. Charley tries to warn the others of Rathbone's actions, but he shoots at her and demands to speak to the leader of the Triskele. Once facing the Lawgiver, Rathbone shoots and kills him...freeing the Uncreators to attack.

Weeks and the crew fire on the Uncreators, but there are far too many of them. However, Tamworth discovers that they can be repelled by roaring at them—this generation has always lived in captivity, and has no concept of predators of any kind. The Uncreators back off, but the Uncreator Prime is not so easily discouraged; and the triskelion symbol it wears is secretly an energy weapon, with which it will kill the Doctor. Tamworth interrupts it by challenging it for the position of Lawgiver; and to everyone's shock, he beats the Uncreator Prime, using skill to counter instinct. The Uncreator Prime prompts Rathbone to shoot Tamworth, but he breaks free of control, and shoots the Uncreator Prime instead.

Tamworth is now the Lawgiver; but instead of claiming the Triskele for the British Empire, he orders the ship back into space. He will instead help the Triskele regain their individuality and autonomy. He sends the humans back to the ship—but that means they will die in the crash, which the Doctor knows is still impending. He tries to get Charley to stay with Tamworth, but she refuses. He promises to get the airship down safely, but knows it is hopeless.

Rathbone, however, has claimed the Triskele energy weapon. Knowing it can change history, the Doctor takes it back and runs, avoiding the Vortisaur on the way, and enters the heart of the ship. Rathbone corners the Doctor and Charley near the airship's gasbags, and attacks them, but punctures one of the bags, starting the crash of the ship. Rathbone falls to his death, and the weapon is lost. The Doctor and Charley escape on the back of the Vortisaur but all others are lost.

The Vortisaur is agitated. The Doctor realises that Charley was meant to die on the R101, and has now cheated it, becoming a temporal anomaly, thus agitating the time-sensitive Vortisaur. Though it pains him to do so, he determines to get her back there in time for the crash, thus restoring her timeline—and the Vortisaur calms down. But he can't bear to do it now, and takes her with him; the Vortisaur, able to sense the TARDIS, carries them away in search of it.

Cast Edit

Uncredited cast Edit

References Edit

The Doctor Edit

Notes Edit

  • This was the audio debut of the Eigth Doctor. His first lines are: "TARDIS manual... TARDIS manual... TARDIS manual, not here are you. I really must sort through these shelves properly some centuries soon."
  • The theme arrangement was composed by David Arnold, who has composed a wide range of impressive film scores, such as Stargate, Independence Day, Godzilla, Hot Fuzz, Paul and Sherlock. (David Arnold's IMDB page) This is the Eighth Doctor's second theme; besides the TV Movie arrangement, Nicholas Briggs composed a third one for the 2nd-4th series of The Eighth Doctor Adventures, based on the Fourth Doctor's theme tune, whilst Jamie Robertson composed a rock-inspired arrangement for the 2011 Mary Shelley trilogy of stories. The Arnold arrangement was used again for The Company of Friends and Dark Eyes. This was the first time that an original theme has been used for the Big Finish audios; the first fifteen releases had used the standardised Fourth Doctor theme.
  • Alistair Lock's score to this story was released on the CD Music from the Eighth Doctor Audio Adventures, alongside the other three initial Eighth Doctor audios.
Storm Warning comic preview

Illustrated preview by Lee Sullivan from DWM 300.

  • The 2001 Eighth Doctor audio drama covers carry the Doctor Who logo in copper. The BBC only noticed this halfway through the season, and were not happy. Gary Russell persuaded them to let Big Finish keep the logo for these four plays, if he promised never to use them again.[source needed]
  • Although the events portrayed are based on an actual occurrence, all of the characters involved are fictional.
  • The Doctor states several times that there were no survivors of the R101 crash. In actuality, eight people survived the crash itself. Two of these individuals later died from injuries sustained in the crash, bringing the total number of survivors to six.
  • As the first Eighth Doctor audio drama, this was also the first Big Finish audio drama to take place after the events of TV: Doctor Who, then the most recent televised appearance of the Doctor.
  • This audio drama was recorded on 18 May 2000 at Christchurch Studios.
  • An illustrated preview of this story appeared in DWM 300 illustrated by Lee Sullivan.
  • This is the first Big Finish audio drama to feature the sonic screwdriver.
  • The story formed part of an Eighth Doctor series on BBC Radio 7 in 2005, alongside the stories Shada, Sword of Orion, The Stones of Venice, Invaders from Mars and The Chimes of Midnight, and has been repeated on multiple occasions since. This led to the commissioning of the original series The Eighth Doctor Adventures, debuting on the digital station in December 2006. Due to a limited timeslot, scenes were edited out of these versions; excluding Shada and The Chimes of Midnight, these were collated into The Eighth Doctor Collection in 2008 with an exclusive behind-the-scenes documentary and booklet. Minuet in Hell was excluded from broadcast due to its adult themes.

Cover gallery Edit

Continuity Edit

External links Edit

Footnotes Edit

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