The Fourth Wall
Doctor’s mini-season continued in February
2012 with "The Fourth Wall", by John Dorney,
in which The Doctor and Flip Jackson arrive on the
Fourth Wall" is a cautionary tale about not getting
too involved with our entertainment!’, John Dorney
has revealed, ‘and offers something of a
baptism of fire for Flip as her tendency to not look
she leaps leads to her paying a heavy penalty. Saying
anything more would spoil it... let's just add that
you shouldn't get complacent when listening. The light
tone is very much about leading you into a false sense
of security. Make no mistake something awful is about
to happen. It's a story that's been in my head for
ages and it's great to finally get a chance to tell
it. I came up with the concept for the monsters about
20 years ago and have never quite let them go. I'm
delighted to be writing it for Colin, who I adored
on TV and has always been my favourite audio Doctor,
and the lovely Lisa, who's character is so fresh and
vibrant and just plain fun to write for’.
Fourth Wall" is about writers, and writers' responsibilities
to their characters. There were various things that
went into that melting pot, but one was an awful film
I saw where people were gleefully massacred, and I
found it a little uncomfortable. It made me wonder
why Die Hard worked, whereas that didn't.
It felt like the writer didn't have enough respect
for the characters.
So "The Fourth Wall" is about writers' responsibilities
to the fiction they create. It's also about the oddity
of action as entertainment, and it has its cake and
eats it in that it's a Doctor Who story which
kind of sends up what Doctor Who does’.
is a black comedy, first and foremost. It's probably
the most explicitly comedic Doctor Who I've
done. But at the same time, it's bleak - there
very nasty stuff that happens in it. I think
the series is at its best when it's got a comedic
edge. I've always thought The Doctor is largely
a comic character. That said, I found it hard
to write jokes for Colin, which I found surprising;
there's a degree to which the humour of his Doctor
is more a response to him rather than anything
he says. The reason The Fourth Wall became comic
is because actors are inherently comical, and
the monsters in it, you couldn't do straight,
because they're quite extreme and broad’.
has been revealed that one of the John Dorney’s
highlights of writing this story was dealing with
the Sixth Doctor's newest companion. ‘I
adored writing Flip. I wish I'd been able to write
for her, actually. She just comes in, doesn't take
any prisoners, and she's just fun. An easy character
guest cast joining Colin Baker, as the Sixth
Doctor, and Lisa Greenwood, as Flip Jackson,
for this story includes: Julian Wadham (The
English Patient, Downton Abbey) as Augustus
Scullop, while Yasmin Bannerman (Jabe the
Tree in the 2005 Ninth
Doctor story "The
End of the World") plays Dr Helen Shepherd.
Also starring are: Hywel Morgan, Martin Hutson,
Tilly Gaunt, Kim Wall and Henry Devas.
This story has been
directed by Nicholas Briggs and was recorded on the
14th and 25th June 2011.
- Featuring the Sixth
Doctor and Flip Jackson.
- Serial Number: 7C/NAB
- Number of Episodes: 4
- Cover Length: 120 minutes
- Episode Lengths: 1 = 30'07", 2 =
29'57", 3 = 32'13", 4 = 34'02"
- Total Length: 126'19"
- Also features 22 minutes of trailers, music
and special behind-the-scenes interviews with
cast and producers
- This story takes place between "The
Trial of a Time Lord (The
Ultimate Foe)" and "Time
and the Rani".
- Cover Illustration: Simon Holub
- Recorded: 14th and 25th June 2011
- Recording Location: Moat Studios
- Released: February 2012
- ISBN: 978-1-84435-605-8
On the Back Cover:
Business is bad
for intergalactic media mogul Augustus Scullop, whose
Trans-Gal empire is on the rocks. But, having retreated
to his own private planet, Transmission, Scullop
is about to gamble his fortune on a new show, made
with an entirely new technology. And the name of
that show… is Laser.
Back in the real
world, far from the realms of small screen sc-fi fantasies
about monsters and aliens, the Doctor is interested
only in watching Test Match cricket… but finds
himself drawn into Scullop’s world when his new
travelling companion, Flip, is snatched from inside
So, while the
Doctor uncovers the terrible secret of Trans-Gal’s
new tech, Flip battles to survive in a barren wilderness
ruled over by the indestructible Lord Krarn and his
pig-like servants, the Warmongers. And the name of
that wilderness… is ‘Stevenage’.
|On the Inside Cover:
I hate killing people. Fictional
people, I should clarify. Not real ones. I actually
find killing real people quite fun. But my own characters,
now that's a different matter. I've created them, brought
them into life, nurtured them, watched them grow. They
are, in a very pretentious sense, my children. And
I often have to murder them. I'm a writer of action
adventure sci-fi. As a genre it's all about death.
Death on a grand scale. I kill my babies all the time.
It's part of the job. I don't like it.
Authors have a responsibility
to their characters, you see. Just as I wouldn't wish
to die purely on the whim of some celestial author,
the thoughtless swish of his pen ending my existence
for the sake of a cheap laugh or a dramatic moment,
I don't want my characters to die for no reason.
to kill them it has to hurt. Hurt them, hurt me, hurt
you. Hurt like any death in reality does. Because if
we find killing and murder fun, what has become of
One of the deaths in this story hurt
particularly hard. You'll know which one when it happens.
I can only apologise. But death is too big a thing
to treat lightly.
Whenever I've dared to canvass opinion
at Doctor Who conventions about the kind of story Big
Finish fans prefer, I always get a resounding message
from those I ask: 'We don't like comedies'. And I agree.
But what is the difference between a comedy and a drama?
Not everything in a given situation will always play
out to entirely dramatic, tragic or action-packed effect.
Sometimes, in life, odd things happen. People are sometimes
utterly useless at their jobs, to devastating effect,
for example. And if their job is to conquer and destroy
(rather like some infamous metallic monsters we know
only too well) but they're actually rubbish at it,
what would be the consequences of that? Might there
be a comedic outcome in some respects?
of the many elements in this great script by John
Dorney. He's a brilliant writer who has really hit
his stride. We love what he does. And in this story,
he explores some slightly ludicrous but entirely
reasonable consequences of aliens not, being very
good at being baddies. He also explores issues involved
in taking the 'immersive' experience of television
perhaps a bit too far. True, there are some bizarrely
funny things that happen along the way. But in many
ways, The Fourth Wall is one of the darkest, most
disturbing plays I've ever directed.
| Full Cast List:
|Philippa 'Flip' Jackson
| Augustus Scullop
|Dr Helen Shepherd
|Nick Kenton/Jack Laser
|Matthew Howland/Lord Krarn
The Production Team:
||Nicholas Briggs and Jason Haigh-Ellery