a real world point of view
|Main setting:||London, January 1986|
|Printed in:||Doctor Who Annual 1986|
|Doctor Who annual|
|The Fellowship of Quan||Interface|
The Sixth Doctor is chasing a time anomaly in the London of 1986. Locating it in a sewer, he is able to better define it. It's a Time Wake — a literal wake in the time vortex that connects 1986 to 1720. It's caused by the use of primitive time travel technology. To close it, the Doctor has to stop whoever is using that technology. He decides the best way to do that is to follow the Time Wakes back to their source. Peri and he step through the wake — manifest as a circle of shimmering blue-white light —and end up in 1720.
Specifically, they've arrived in the cellar of an inn. As they adjust to their surroundings, they see dozens of people around them. The Doctor recognises them as every British Prime Minister from Robert Walpole to Margaret Thatcher. He also comes to understand that they aren't the actual PMs, but android copies. As he and Peri puzzle out why anyone would bother making these copies, a shadowy figure locks them in the cellar from the outside and the androids spring to life. They threaten Peri and the Doctor, but the Doctor isn't overly concerned. He makes a few adjustments to the device he was using to track the time anomaly. Soon he's broadcasting a radio frequency that controls the androids. Easily escaping the locked door, he leads the androids out of the cellar — and directly to the Thames. They "die" a watery death.
Peri and he return to the inn, where they find the primitive time machine at the heart of this mystery. The Doctor removes its Primary Polarity Enhancer, a silvery cube without which it cannot function. They intend to return to 1986 through the Time Wake, thereby leaving whoever is doing all this dangerous time travel stranded. Peri notes that the Time Wake is shrinking. They must get through it now or they'll be stranded in 1720.
As they near their goal, a blue-skinned figure blocks their progress. He reveals himself as Tasq, a Time Engineer from the planet Bestonas. He says that his vessel crashed in 1986, and explains that he needed to create the prime ministerial replicas to get off Earth. By controlling the prime ministers, he would divert more money into scientific research throughout history, hugely advancing the technology of humanity. This would alter history in such a way that humans would have developed intergalactic vessels by 1986, allowing him to escape.
Clearly, the Doctor is not pleased at this revelation. He pulls the Primary Polarity Enhancer from his pocket and calmly begins to strike a deal with Tasq. While he's doing so, he orders Peri to go through the ever-shrinking Time Wake. He offers Tasq the opportunity to be taken back home in the TARDIS. Unfortunately, Tasq doesn't believe the Doctor has such a vessel. The Doctor doesn't like being called a liar. So, he jumps throug the Time Wake, still in possession of the silver cube Tasq needs so desperately. Tasq tries to follow, but the Time Wake can no longer accommodate him. In 1986, the Doctor and Peri watch as Tasq's hand comes through, then fades away. The Doctor tells Peri that Tasq died as the time vortex healed itself.
The duo surface from the sewer and head towards the TARDIS. Realising he's been in the sewer a bit too long, the Doctor claims to need a bath.
to be added
- This story effectively brings every British Prime Minister up to and including Margaret Thatcher into the Doctor Who universe. The ones specifically named are Robert Walpole, Pitt the Younger, Benjamin Disraeli, William Ewart Gladstone, David Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, Harold Wilson and Margaret Thatcher. Nevertheless, the Doctor says, "Every Prime Minister is here", so it's logical to assume that every real world prime minister from Walpole to Thatcher are indeed present.
- The Doctor is said to rub his cat badge for good luck.
- Peri suggests at one point that perhaps Tasq's ship has a functioning chameleon circuit, which definitely marks this story as being set after Attack of the Cybermen. The Doctor is explicitly aggrieved by her suggestion and points out that only advanced civilisations have chameleon circuits.
- This is, of course, not the first time the Sixth Doctor and Peri have crawled around the sewers of London. Some of the illustrations are reminiscent of scenes from TV: Attack of the Cybermen.