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Audio - Patient Zero

Patient Zero
(Nicholas Briggs)

 The release for August 2009, called "Patient Zero", will be the first of three consecutive Sixth Doctor and Charley Pollard stories. "Patient Zero" has been written and directed by Nicholas Briggs. It was recorded on the 16th and 18th March 2009.

Big Finish Productions have announced that the end is nigh for Charley Pollard or is it? The popular Doctor Who audio companion, who made her debut eight years ago in "Storm Warning", looks set to leave the audio adventures in a blaze of glory in September 2009’s "Blue Forgotten Planet".

Charley has had an incredible journey with The Doctor’, executive producer Nicholas Briggs has revealed. ‘She was saved from certain death in her first story, an act which compromised the Web of Time, and went on to travel with the Eighth Doctor in many adventures. Their collaboration came to an end in "The Girl Who Never Was", but Charley was saved by The Doctor again - albeit an earlier incarnation, in the form of the Sixth Doctor. That paradox - how she could meet the Time Lord in his past yet still be unknown to him in his future - has formed the central mystery for their recent adventures’.

Her story comes to a head, however, in August’s "Patient Zero", which kicks off the ‘Charley finale’ season. It sees the return of both the Viyrans and the Daleks, and guest stars Michael Maloney (The Young Victoria, Bonekickers) as Fratalin and Jess Robinson (Dead Ringers) as Mila.

Sixth Doctor
Sixth Doctor
 Is it really the beginning of the end for Charley? Certainly, rumour would have it that Charlotte Pollard’s adventures with the Sixth Doctor are coming to an end in this new season of audio plays - or as actress India Fisher endearingly refers to it, ‘The Charley Finale’ - which begins with this story.

As explained by Nicholas Briggs ‘We wanted to bring the Sixth Doctor and Charley adventures to some kind of crescendo. We couldn’t just have The Doctor continuing to be suspicious of her, and her being all coy and worried about The Doctor finding out the truth. But we wanted to do it in an unexpected way’.

India Fisher
India Fisher
But this still does not reveal if Charley really is leaving, or maybe this season’s ‘crescendo’ is something else entirely. What can be certain is that something very definite is definitely going to happen and that Charley really has a hard time in this story.

Of course having already travelled with The Doctor in his eighth incarnation - something which Charley has managed to have kept secret until now – we could not expect anything less. The Doctor though knows something is amiss with Charley, but can’t quite put his finger on it. As India Fisher has explained ‘It’s been fascinating to play, as Charley has grown up massively since encountering the Sixth Doctor. She feels the balance of power has shifted. She holds the cards and supposedly knows information he doesn’t. Of course, this isn’t entirely true...’.

On thing is for certain in this story the lead characters’ relationship does reach a turning point and as Nicholas Briggs has stated she does end up giving The Doctor a full explanation. ‘But not necessarily the one we were expecting. By the end of the show, The Doctor and Charley’s relationship seems to be on an entirely new footing. They’re about to strike out into infinity’.

As to the villains in this story Nicholas Briggs has stated that ‘The Daleks were the ideal villains to be involved in "Patient Zero". They’d also get the season off to a really exciting start!’ This story also boasts the debut of a brand new type of Dalek. As revealed by Nicholas Briggs, ‘It introduces the Dalek Time Controller who’s a special Dalek, responsible for plotting Dalek time strategies. He’s not the usual kind of Dalek, because he kind of understands that the Daleks can’t just randomly fiddle with the timeline, because they might end up hurting their own interests. They’re still as nasty as ever but they are slightly constrained here, by the concerns voiced by the Dalek Time Controller. But they are certainly on course for their biggest victory ever!’.

While "Patient Zero" is, like all the previous adventures a standalone story in its own right there will be hints about what’s to come. ‘There’s a huge amount to listen out for which will eventually come back to bite everyone in "Blue Forgotten Planet", the third story in the season. The three stories do all clearly link into each other, but they don’t always directly follow on from each other. They are kind of landmarks in a bigger story that takes time to develop...’.

Companion Chronicles
This release also includes the fifth part of "The Three Companions" - the 12-part Companion Chronicles mini-series which are a bonus feature on the monthly Doctor Who plays since April 2009. Each of the 10-minute episodes has been written by Marc Platt and has been directed by Lisa Bowerman.

This special story brings together Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (aka The Brigadier) (played by Nicholas Courtney) and Polly (played by Anneke Wills), who discover that their past travels with The Doctor share a common link... Meanwhile, Thomas Brewster (played by John Pickard) is watching from a distance, and he is now the owner of a stolen TARDIS...

Also starring in this episode is Russell Floyd.

Episode Five: "The Brigadier's Story": Polly's tale is over, but now Lethbridge-Stewart shares his story of a rare excursion in the TARDIS, when the Third Doctor answered a distress call from a distant galaxy. But what is the secret of Waterloo Station?

Big Finish Magazine - Vortex: Issue 6 (August 2009)

Audio - Big Finish Magazine - Vortex: Issue 6
Vortex: Issue 6
 Issue 6 of 'Vortex - The Big Finish Magazine' was also sent out to subscribers with this release.

  In this issue...
    1. Editorial - Nicholas Briggs

    2. Sneak Previews and Whispers
    - Doctor Who: "The Eternal Summer", Doctor Who: "An Earthly Child" and Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles: "Bernice Summerfield and the Criminal Code".

    3. In The Studio - A Thousand Wings.

    4. Feature - The Joy of Six.

    5. Feature - Six of the Best.

    . Upcoming Releases - August 2009 - May 2010.

    7. Interview – Rainey Days.

    8. Q&A – Neil Roberts.

    9. Letters.

    10. Team Twitter.

Published By: Big Finish Productions Ltd
Managing Editor: Jason Haigh-Ellery
Editors: Nicholas Briggs and David Richardson
Assistant Editor: Paul Spragg
Contributors: Stephen Mark Rainey and Neil Roberts
Design and Layout: Alex Mallinson
Published: August 2009
Page Count: 20

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  • Featuring the Sixth Doctor, Charley Pollard and Mila.
  • Serial Number: 7C/PF
  • Number of Episodes: 4
  • Cover Length: 120 minutes
  • Main Story Episode Lengths: 1 = 30'01", 2 = 28'49", 3 = 28'32", 4 = 34'36"
  • Main Story Total Length: 121'58"
  • Extra Story Episode Length: 5 = 12'00"
  • Also features 16 minutes of trailers and special behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and producers.
  • This story takes place between the television adventures "The Trial of a Time Lord" and "Time and the Rani" and follows on from "The Raincloud Man".
  • Cover Illustration: Iain Robertson
  • Recorded: 16th and 18th March 2009
  • Recording Location: Moat Studios
  • Released: August 2009
  • ISBN: 978-1-84435-412-2

On the Back Cover:

Finally, the Sixth Doctor challenges Charlotte Pollard to tell him the truth. Who is she really? What is she doing in the TARDIS?

To discover the answers, the Doctor must travel back in time, beyond all known civilizations to the vast, mysterious Amethyst Viral Containment Station. But answers lie within the TARDIS too. Someone who has been there a long, long time...

Meanwhile, the Daleks have travelled back in time on their own mission, to bring them the ultimate victory they crave. But it is a mission so complex and delicate that even they know they must beware the Web of Time...

Who is Patient Zero? What has happened to Charley? And why have the legendary Viyrans been summoned?


On the Inside Cover:

The Viyrans - A Very Short History

The Viyrans have been lurking around in the audio adventures of Doctor Who for quite some time, but you probably didn’t even notice. Their influence was first felt in Urgent Calls (on Doctor Who CD 94: I.D.), in which the Sixth Doctor encountered a virus that made people make significant but random phone calls to each other. In fact, every time a virus has been mentioned since that point, the intention has been for it to be connected with the Viyrans.

Their first bona fide ‘appearance’ was in Mission of the Viyrans, a one-part adventure following the three-part story The Mind’s Eye (Doctor Who CD 102). In that story, it was revealed that the Viyrans were on an intergalactic virus clean-up mission, following a terrible catastrophe. But what was the exact nature of that catastrophe? Patient Zero may shed some light on that.

Writer’s Notes: Nicholas Briggs

‘Oh, you’ll go mad and die,’ script editor Alan Barnes said to me when I told him I wanted to write two of the three scripts in what we’d decided we’d call ‘The Stalker Season’. I think he was referring to the problems of excessive workload, not my general state of mental health. And, of course, every day of my life I’m listening to and giving notes on sound design and music, reading other people’s scripts as well as formulating and discussing future plans for Doctor Who and Big Finish’s other ranges... But it can’t all be about this executive producer nonsense!

Sometimes I have to get back to what I truly love - and I don’t just mean doing the trailers or a bit of sound design and music (even though I love those things too). I mean sometimes I have to write Doctor Who, because in many ways, that’s my first love. In fact, as if to prove that, I can confirm that I created, wrote about and drew (cringe!) the Viyrans when I was about 14 years old. The chance to have them battle the Daleks was just too tempting to miss. I don’t want to tempt fate, but so far... I haven’t gone mad or died. Phew!


Who's Who?

The Sixth Doctor

First television appearance: "The Twin Dilemma"
First chronological Big Finish audio appearance: "Davros"

 He has been exploring the universe for hundred of years. He fights injustice. He defeats evil. He helps people. The Doctor sacrificed his previous life on the planet Androxani Minor to save his companion Peri from a toxic virus. Now he is travelling through time and space on his own, driven on by his insatiable curiosity and adventurous spirit. In this incarnation he is forthright, often abrasive and can be blunt to the point of rudeness in the face of great danger. But having answered a distress call emanating from Earth in the year 500,002 and picked up the mysterious Charley Pollard, he now feels its time he learned just who she is...

Charley Pollard

First Big Finish audio appearance: "Storm Warning".

 Charlotte Elspeth Pollard (1912 – 1930); born on the day the Titanic sank; died in the crash of the airship R101. (Or at least, that’s how the Web of Time has it.) In reality, the self-styled ‘Edwardian Adventuress’ was whisked away on an incredible journey through time and space in the company of the Eighth Doctor. The journey ended in 2008, when she walked away into the Singapore night. (Or at least, that’s how the Doctor remembers it.) In reality, she’d been washed up on a lonely island in the year 500,002, from where she sent an SOS out to the TARDIS. But it wasn’t ‘her’ Doctor who answered her call, and now she has some explaining to do - assuming she gets the chance...

Full Cast List:

Patient Zero  
The Doctor Colin Baker
Charley Pollard India Fisher
Fratalin Michael Maloney
Mila Jess Robinson
Etheron/The Daleks Nicholas Briggs
Companion Chronicles - Episode Five: "The Brigadier's Story"
Polly Wright Anneke Wills
Sir Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart Nicholas Courtney
Thomas Brewster John Pickard
Gerry Lenz Russell Floyd

The Production Team:

Patient Zero  
Writer Nicholas Briggs
Director Nicholas Briggs
Sound/Music Howard Carter
Companion Chronicles - Episode Five: "The Brigadier's Story"
Writer Marc Platt
Director Lisa Bowerman
Sound/Music Richard Fox and Lauren Yason
Both Stories:  
Theme Music David Darlington
Script Editor Alan Barnes
Producer David Richardson
Executive Producers Nicholas Briggs and Jason Haigh-Ellery
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