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The Lady of Mercia

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Audio - The Lady of Mercia
The Lady of Mercia
(Paul Magrs)

The release for May 2013 is called "The Lady of Mercia" and sees Peter Davison, in the second of three releases for 2013, as the Fifth Doctor with his three companions: Nyssa, played by Sarah Sutton; Tegan Jovanka, played by Janet Fielding, and Turlough, played by Mark Strickson.

This story has been written by Paul Magrs and has been directed by Ken Bentley. It was recorded on the 7th and 8th January 2013.

The story starts when The Doctor and his travelling companions arrive at University of Frodsham in 1983. But the TARDIS isn't the only time machine at the university. A human physicist has built one, too. It's rudimentary, theoretical, and experimental - but it's working.

As revealed by Script Editor Alan Barnes ‘This is the first purely historical adventure in the monthly range since back in 2009. We're going back to the Dark Ages in search of the forgotten warrior queen Æthelfrid, daughter of Alfred the Great... and her connection to a certain Dr Tegan Jovanka!

Fifth Doctor
Fifth Doctor

As revealed by Director Ken Bentley: ‘What first struck me when I read The Lady of Merda was its use of parallel time periods. What's so clever about Paul Magrs' script is we take people from two different periods in time and swap them over, so we get to see how this sense of displacement feels from two points of view’.

Much of the story is though driven by Janet Fielding as companion Tegan Jovanka. ‘One of the essential requirements of a story is to clearly define a character by their actions, or, more importantly, reactions, and then challenge them with something that puts pressure on both their strengths and weaknesses. Tegan is a well-defined character, and what Magrs has done that's such fun is to challenge her with something that really puts her under pressure. She's forced to respond to her situation in new ways. Writers often ask themselves "What's the worst thing I could do to this character?", and Magrs does precisely that to Tegan!’.

Janet has an extraordinary job to do in Mercia. We've often seen our heroes have to assume disguises in order to survive a situation or exist unnoticed in a particular place or time, but never in my experience has a character been put in such a position of responsibility, where their actions could have such a fundamental impact’.

The most appealing aspect of this script for me’, Ken Bentley has further revealed, ‘is that it bravely takes a period of history we know little about and finds a way to weave into it a sequence of fictional events that could explain why things turned out the way they did. That in itself isn't an entirely unique approach, but I've never seen a companion placed on the frontline quite so dangerously as in this play’.

Also starring in this story are: Anthony Howell, Abigail Thaw, Rachel Atkins, Catherine Grose, Kieran Bew and Stephen Critchlow.



Tegan Jovanka



Big Finish Magazine - Vortex: Issue 51 (May 2013)

Audio - Big Finish Magazine - Vortex: Issue 51
Vortex: Issue 51
 Issue 51 of 'Vortex - The Big Finish Magazine' was also sent out to subscribers with this release.

  In this issue...

    1. Sneak Previews and Whispers – The Confessions of Dorian Gray Series Two

    2. Editorial
    - Paul Spragg

    3. Article - Peter Span - Peter Davison

    4. Article - New Horizons - Blake's 7: Horizon

    5. Article - Paul of Sound - Blake's 7: Paul Darrow

    6. Article - The Private Eye and the Witch - Dark Shadows

    7. Article - Welcome to Collinsport You'll Never Leave! - Dark Shadows

    8. Article - Listen Again –The Gathering

    9. Forthcoming Releases - May 2013 – February 2014

Published By: Big Finish Productions Ltd
Managing Editor: Jason Haigh-Ellery
Editors: Nicholas Briggs and David Richardson
Assistant Editor: Paul Spragg
Design: Mark Plastow
Published: May 2013
Page Count: 24

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  • Featuring the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan Jovanka and Turlough.
  • Number of Episodes: 4
  • Cover Length: 120 minutes
  • Episode Lengths: 1 = 27'01", 2 = 24'38", 3 = 26'03", 4 = 24'14"
  • Total Length: 144'56"
  • Also features 27 minutes of trailers, music and special behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and producers.
  • Cover Illustration: Anthony Lamb
  • Recorded: 7th and 8th January 2013
  • Recording Location: Moat Studios
  • Released: May 2013
  • ISBN: 978-1-78178-073-2

On the Back Cover:

Audio - The Lady of Mercia

The TARDIS brings the Doctor, Tegan, Turlough and Nyssa to the University of Frodsham, close to where the warrior queen Æthelfrid fought a desperate and bloody rearguard action against the savage Danes. Over a thousand years later, in 1983, battle is still being raged, with student activists taking on savage funding cuts… and disrupting a conference about Æthelfrid convened by history professor John Bleak.

Meanwhile, over in the Physics Department, Dr Philippa Stone is working night and day on a top-secret project – but can her theoretical time machine really be the solution to the university's problems?

Present and past are about to collide – and the results, as the TARDIS crew is about to discover, will be far from academic!


On the Inside Cover:

Director’s Notes

The Lady of Mercia mixes two periods in time. It's an entertaining idea, and Paul Magrs makes it more so by writing about a period we know very little about. Not simply to afford him the licence to invent with impunity. He's been smart enough to start our story in modern Britain, only to explore through time travel the origins of modern Britain, 'm fascinated by the process of change language goes through. In our own lifetime it's changed (mostly down to electronic devices) and, although we have no way of knowing precisely how people spoke centuries ago, I find it enjoyable to explore the possibilities through drama. Paul has drawn comparisons with modern regional accents to create a clear audio contrast between the people of Mercia and their Viking foes. A witty device I found even more fascinating since it suggested (to me) the idea of reincarnation.

By doubling up roles (as we often have to do) there's another layer that connects even more threads through time. It's possible that Arthur is still causing trouble as Barry, and Ælfwynn is still trying to clean up after him, but now as Molly. It adds nothing to one's enjoyment of what's already a wonderful romp through time, but it makes me smile thinking about the layers of connections Paul has managed to achieve.


Writer's Notes

The Lady of Mercia

I've been very lucky to write for TARDIS teams I adore. Writing is like time travel, in that it allows you to go back to favourite moments and spend longer in good company.

Right now I'm king of another anniversary year - thirty years ago! - when the TARDIS crew of 1983 was racketing about the universe having a grand, hectic time. I loved that era so much, and always wanted more time, more adventures, more stories set just then.

So, here we are in 2013 and it's with great pleasure that I send that same cast of characters on a mission back to 1983 itself - to a university conference on a campus atop a hillside in the north of England, where researchers are gathering to discuss that magnificent warrior queen of the Dark Ages, Æthelfrid.

Never heard of her? Well, she and her daughter were very important back in the tenth century, and one of the things they did was unite the northern lands against both the Vikings and the southerners, and paved the way to creating England itself. At this conference, however, things aren't merely academic and a secret time travel experiment sends a certain antipodean companion spinning back into Medieval times and a surprising date with destiny. Thanks to a temporal blunder and a bit of regal arm-twisting, Tegan Jovanka is about to become a Warrior Princess...!

Thanks to the team at Big Finish I've been able to write what I hope will be a fun and adventurous, barnstorming historical adventure. I've always wanted to write one of those twisty tales in the far past, full of sword-fighting and Loud arguments and trips on horseback across vast distances, and folk being mistaken for other folk. I also wanted to pose the question: if historians could actually travel into the past, would they really want to do it? Wouldn't they find it all a bit... well, messy? It was Alan Barnes who suggested that I try my hand at an historical romp - and he pointed me in the direction of the Dark Ages. All historical mistakes, inaccuracies, blunders and all the loopy made-up things are completely my fault.

So - here we are, ready to nip back to those much simpler, distant ages of both 1983 and the tenth century AD. But time travel is easy for us, luckily - and so much fun, in company such as this, with a brave warrior queen to Lead us.



Full Cast List:

The Doctor Peter Davison
Tegan Jovanka Janet Fielding
Vislor Turlough Mark Strickson
Nyssa Sarah Sutton
Professor John Bleak Anthony Howell
Dr Philippa Stone Abigail Thaw
Queen Æthelfrid Rachel Atkins
Princess Ælfwynn Catherine Grose
Arthur Kettleson Kieran Bew
Earl of Wessex Stephen Critchlow
Dr Angeline Duchamp Catherine Grose
Molly Wright Kieran Bew
Professor Fester Stephen Critchlow

The Production Team:

Writer Paul Magrs
Director Ken Bentley
Sound/Music Steve Foxon
Theme Music David Darlington
Script Editor Alan Barnes
Producer David Richardson
Executive Producers Nicholas Briggs and Jason Haigh-Ellery
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