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Winter for the Adept was former script editor Andrew Cartmel's first script for Big Finish Productions, and, as of 2017, his only one for the main monthly range. It was highly unusual for his work in the DWU because it featured the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa, rather than his usual team of the Seventh Doctor and Ace.

Another "fish-out-of-water" with this story was India Fisher, who enjoyed her first Big Finish role here, several months before originating her usual character of Charlotte Pollard.

Publisher's summary Edit

When a teleportation experiment goes badly wrong, Nyssa finds herself stranded on the freezing slopes of the Swiss Alps in 1963. But is it mere coincidence that she finds shelter in a snowbound school, haunted by a malevolent poltergeist?

When the Doctor arrives, Nyssa and the other inhabitants of the school soon discover that the ghost is merely part of a darker, deeper and more deadly game involving rogue psi talents and something else... Something not of this Earth.

Plot Edit

December 1963: A girl named Alison Speers writes in her diary. She and her roommate Peril Bellamy are students at an isolated finishing school in the Swiss Alps, and they are snowed in for the holidays, having missed their chance to go home. They are accompanied by the headmistress, an odd character named Miss Tremayne, and also by her assistant, Mademoiselle Maupassant. And Peril is planning an escape—literally, by climbing down the roof to meet her lover, one Lieutenant Peter Sandoz of the mountain patrol, and elope with him.

Sandoz has already been sent by his superiors to check on the school and the girls, but en route, he meets someone: Nyssa of Traken, who has just found herself teleported from the warm TARDIS to the cold mountainside. He takes her along to the school. Arriving, they find bigger problems: Ghostly happenings are occurring, and Peril and Alison are out in the storm. Sandoz leaves to find them. As strange occurrences begin to happen, he brings them back, and announces his plans to elope with Peril; this sends Miss Tremayne into a fury of somewhat-religious rage. However, more happenings—involving moving furniture and a smashed mirror—force them to retreat to the attic…where the TARDIS appears. The shock makes Miss Tremayne faint.

The Doctor regroups with everyone, and apologises to Nyssa; her unexpected teleportation was a side effect of an experiment in, as he calls it, “Spillage detection”. However, her story catches his attention, and he reveals—to her chagrin—that the school appears to be genuinely haunted.

While preparing to investigate, the Doctor works with the rather surly Sandoz to repair the school’s broken radio, allowing help to be summoned. As soon as he leaves the room, however, someone smashes the radio to bits. The Doctor then gathers his spillage-detection equipment from the TARDIS, though he keeps his plan mostly to himself. He begins to run experiments in the chapel; while there, he notes a picture on the wall of one Harding Wellman, a mountaineer who died in an avalanche; the picture is not the source of the psychic residue. He gives Peril some special tea to brew; and suddenly there is another psychic attack.

Nyssa is nearly killed, but the Doctor saves her. He finds no psychic residue in the area, however. He explains that he suspects an extradimensional race called the Spillagers—not their name for themselves, but that by which the rest of the galaxy knows them—who may be trying to invade. He withholds any other details about them. He notices, though, that every manifestation is accompanied by certain out-of-place scents. He gives Peril and Alison some of the tea to calm them, and they fall into a trance; the Doctor reveals that it contained a sedative. While they are entranced, he implants a hypnotic suggestion that will make them fall asleep at his command, so that he need not use the tea again. Peril, under hypnosis, admits that she is an Adept, as her grandmother called it; the female line of her family has often manifested psychic abilities, sometimes being mistaken for witches. She has this power as well, in the form of telekinesis. However, she is not solely to blame; the Doctor realises that Alison is also an Adept of sorts, possessing telepathy rather than telekinesis. Both are involved in the disturbances, with Alison triggering Peril—but what is triggering Alison, who is also unaware of her role?

Unfortunately, Miss Tremayne has overheard, and in her religious frenzy, she determines to kill Peril and Alison as witches. She confronts them in the kitchen, but is shot and killed by Sandoz as she tries to attack. The disturbances continue, and the Doctor opts to get to the bottom of it the old-fashioned way: with a séance.

Sandoz and Maupassant both decline to participate, for various reasons. The Doctor, Nyssa, Alison, and Peril conduct the séance, and to their surprise, they summon the spirit of Harding Wellman. The Doctor suggests that it isn’t actually him; it may be an energy being that has absorbed his memories and identity, making the idea a bit more palatable to Nyssa. Wellman discusses his death, and events thereafter; he also reveals that he had epilepsy. The Doctor puts it all together: It is a feedback loop, in which Wellman’s presence produces a scent of flowers, which triggers migraines in Alison; her powers then trigger Peril’s telekinesis, which activates Wellman’s epilepsy, which then produces outbursts of telekinetic power. Without all three of them, there are no disturbances, as the Doctor demonstrates by putting the girls to sleep.

Still, this is not all that is happening. The Doctor and Nyssa return to the TARDIS for better equipment. He tells her that there are still the Spillagers to deal with. His equipment, he theorises, had homed in on Spillager activity here; the teleportation sent Nyssa there, forcing the Doctor to follow, and therefore deal with it. The Spillagers are a hostile race that want to invade from another dimension; they were attracted here by the psychic activity, and now want to use the feedback loop to open a gateway through which they can bring their fleet. In fact, they have an advance scout in the school already, to open the gate.

The Doctor thinks it is Miss Tremayne—but he scans her body, and finds he is wrong. Instead, it is Maupassant. She reveals herself, and states she chose the students for the purpose of creating the feedback loop. She attacks, but the Doctor forces the trio to create a psychic disturbance, which then crushes the Spillager to death.

With her dead, they can now strike back by closing the gateway. The Doctor, Sandoz, and Peril carry the body out into the snow; it will decompose quickly. However, Sandoz pulls a gun on the Doctor, and reveals that he is a second scout—and the gateway is already open. He has been siphoning off waste energy from the disturbances to slowly open it. He contacts the Spillagers and tells them to come through. Peril is furious—Sandoz, the real Sandoz, was her lover, after all—and prepares to start a disturbance to kill him; but he shoots her. His shot causes an avalance, however, and he is buried and killed.

The Doctor uses a special poultice from the TARDIS to save Peril, but she is too weak for the séance which will close the gate; so he makes Nyssa, with her own rudimentary psychic ability, stand in. The Spillager fleet, halfway through the gate, is crushed and destroyed by its closure.

With the crisis averted, the Doctor and Nyssa use the TARDIS to take Peril and Alison to their family homes, giving Alison a final diary entry.

Cast Edit

References Edit

Psychic powers Edit

Foods and beverages Edit

  • The Doctor brews tea that contains a mild sedative.
  • The Doctor eats a ham sandwich.
  • Nyssa is offered cognac, but refuses.

Species Edit

Theories and concepts Edit

  • Harding Wellman is a dead person whose spiritual remains were animated by energy, manifesting similar to a ghost.
Lee Sullivan BF 5 1 Winter for the Adept

Art by Lee Sullivan from DWM 293.

Notes Edit

Cassettes and covers Edit

Continuity Edit

External links Edit