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"Our civilisation isn't dying. It's already dead. All that's left is the rotting corpse."  

Audio - Creatures of Beauty
Creatures of Beauty
(Nicholas Briggs)

 The story for May 2003 is titled "Creatures of Beauty" and was written and directed by Nicholas Briggs. This story stars the Fifth Doctor, played by Peter Davison, and Nyssa, played by Sarah Sutton and was recorded on the 22nd and 24th March 2003.

 Joining the regular time-team of Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton is guest-star David Daker who has previously appeared in Doctor Who playing the parts of Irongron, in "The Time Warrior", and Captain Rigg in "The Nightmare of Eden". Also staring are: Jemma Churchill, Nigel Hastings, David Mallinson, Emma Manton, Michael Smiley, Philip Wolff and Nicholas Briggs himself.

 The basis of this story follows on from an idea first used in the television show of beauty not necessarily being on the side of the good. The First Doctor's "Galaxy 4" and the Fourth Doctor's "Destiny of the Daleks" both used this idea to great effect. As stated by Nicholas Briggs:

 "Creatures of Beauty" is about an race of aliens who have an unhealthy obsession with physical appearance. It also explores a favourite idea of mine that 'evil' is often a matter of perspective and not always perpetrated by moustache-twirling villains or death ray dealing monsters..."

 Nicholas Briggs' own teaser for this release "Where does the story begin, and where does it end?" also sums up nicely its jigsaw-like structure.

 This story is a straightforward in terms of what actually happens, but because of the complex manner in which it is presented it can be seen as something altogether more of a challenge. Having the overall view being revealed one piece at a time, it may require repeated listening for this offbeat story to become more rewarding and for the discovery of how all the perspectives fit together.

 With; Aliens, in breach of galactic law! Nyssa, under arrest! The TARDIS, inoperable! The Doctor, facing interrogation! things could not get any worse for the time travellers?

Fifth Doctor
Fifth Doctor
 They can when the observation that Nyssa is 'a beauty' is so dangerous.

 What lies behind the locals' responses to the strangers, and assumptions about their links with the alien Koteem? What's the real story of the tragic ugliness on Veln? The answers are far from straightforward for those involved especially when it is not clear who is right and who is wrong, who is ugly and who is beautiful? It is all a matter of perspective - but who's?

 The planet Veln has suffered an ecological disaster, leaving its people prone to an incurable disfiguring genetic disease and in the hundred years since this occurred, the subsequent generations have accepted their ugliness and to them it is the norm.

 The catastrophe was caused by an alien race, called the Koteem, whose use of Dyestrial as their primary source of power meant the disposal of highly toxic Dyestrial waste to unpopulated areas of the Solar System. However, the illegal transportation near a populated planet and an accident while the transport ship was in high orbit above the populated planet Veln has resulted in the Koteem causing the potential genocide of the whole population. However, despite admitting their fault the Koteem have found that all their attempts to make reparations rebuffed by the Veln who want nothing to do with them.

 Then there are those in the Veln society who have turned to cosmetic surgery to alter their appearance, and those who have undergone this are now seen as 'beauties'. But this has resulted in them being despised by the rest of the population for having the money to indulge their vanity.

 To make matters worse there is more to these three groups than there first appears and The Doctor and Nyssa are just about to find out the worse case of visual intolerance with those in power either having hidden agendas or driven by hatred of the Koteem for what they have done - leading to paranoia and deep suspicion of others.

 It appears that Lady Forleon and her followers have been working covertly with the Koteem to ensure the future of their race by finding a way to defeat the debilitating disease that effects the whole Veln race. Lady Forleon may have a solution to the Veln people's problem but is it ethical and how far should one go to preserve the sanctity of life?



 Influenced by the events around them certain members of the population believe that they are doing what is right for the Veln, by seeking out those that collaborate with the Koteem, and trying to stem the tide of alien incursion for the good of the planet.

 But how does The Doctor and Nyssa fit in with the scheme of things? When the TARDIS suffers some damage The Doctor is forced to land on Veln - of which he knows nothing about. But he does detect the Dyestrial pollution in the atmosphere. Knowing the harm it can cause he decides to set off to some nearby buildings so as to warn the population of the harm that they are in, even though unbeknown to him he is somewhat too late, leaving Nyssa to tend to the repairs to the damaged TARDIS. However, she becomes distracted by sounds nearby and goes off to investigate blissfully unaware of the dire peril she is heading into.

 Shortly after leaving the TARDIS The Doctor hears in the distance what sounds like Nyssa in distress. However, before he can go to her assistance he is mistaken, by a guard, for an expected alien visitor and finds himself escorted to a meeting with the Lady Forleon. However, during this initial meeting The Doctor learns that Nyssa is in graver peril then he first thought especially as it seems that she has been mistaken as one of the 'beauties' by those who despise the lack of ugliness.

 When Nyssa becomes suspected of a murder, when infact she is the witness to a suicide by one of those who has undergone Lady Forleon's procedure, she finds her self in the hands of chief psychiatric interrogator Brodlik. It becomes clear that he has an intense anger towards Nyssa when she professes her protestations of blamelessness in the murder and lack of knowledge regarding the Koteem.

 As the story unfolds it becomes apparent that the emphasis is not on what is happening but why.

 Despite having no problem in leaving the planet it becomes clear that they are unable to change anything except maybe to become instruments to illuminate the morality of the groups involved on the planet.

 But could infact the original actions of The Doctor and the TARDIS actually be the cause of the Koteem's accident and the plight of the Veln race in the first place?

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  • Featuring the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa.
  • Serial Number: 6CF
  • Number of Episodes: 4
  • Cover Length: 100 minutes
  • Episode Lengths: 1 = 26'21", 2 = 30'01", 3 = 24'40", 4 = 28'21"
  • Total Story Length: 109'23"
  • This story takes place between "Time-Flight" and "Arc of Infinity" and after "Spare Parts".
  • Cover Illustration: Paul Burley
  • Recorded: 22nd and 24th March 2003
  • Recording Location: The Moat Studios
  • Released: May 2003
  • ISBN: 1-84435-026-6

On the Back Cover:

 A planetary ecological disaster! An incurable, disfiguring, genetic disease... Aliens, in breach of galactic law!

 Nyssa, under arrest! The TARDIS, inoperable! The Doctor, facing interrogation!

 Another situation of dire peril is unfolding for The Doctor and his companion. However, what if it is not clear who is right and who is wrong? Who is ugly and who is beautiful?

 Where does the story begin, and where does it end?

 Sometimes, it is all a matter of perspective.


On the Inside Cover:

 SINCE DOCTOR WHO DIED at the BBC's Television Centre, we've all got to know it far more than some would say is healthy. But I say 'Daleks!' to those who mock us. We're having fun, aren't we? For now, our favourite thing lives on in hooks, comic strips and CDs. We don't actually have to worry about all its concepts being redesigned and made accessible for a less committed, general audience. We know more or less everything there is to know about Doctor Who... which is why, when I came to write my last Doctor Who script for the foreseeable future, I set out to write for the real target audience: an audience that already knows The Doctor and his girl aren't going to die, no matter how perilous the situation. An audience that knows The Doctor is always the cleverest person in any given situation and that he will, by and large, work everything out. How do you change that and still write something that is recognisable as Doctor Who?

 Maybe it's all a question of perspective. If you start to look at something familiar from different viewpoints, you start to look at it in a different way. So, Creatures of Beauty doesn't change the essentials of Doctor Who. everything you'd expect is here, but instead of the story chiefly being told to reveal 'what' is happening, I'm more concerned with 'why' and 'how' it is happening.

 Viewed from different times, places and people, the familiarity of Doctor Who may start to seem distinctly alien.

Nicholas Briggs,
March 2003

 Nicholas Briggs has been a fan of Doctor Who probably since this photo was taken. After wiping the chocolate off his face, he trained as an actor, signed on the dole, worked in publishing, sat behind a desk at the Sci-Fi Channel and finally ended up acting and directing in the theatre. Big Finish has now largely taken over his life - but in a good way!

Production Notes:

 Nick's original plotline for Creatures of Beauty was reasonably close to the finished play - although there were some subtle differences. One of these concerned Nyssa's attempts to get out of trouble, and she utilised a quirky female solicitor - a character now completely absent from the story And the original protagonist was a female cosmetic surgeon, Sabrique, who was the source of much negative feeling from the inhabi-tants of Veln, as their belief system decried the concept of vanity In a later draft, Sabrique became a male industrialist who although appearing to be a philanthropist, building space research stations to help ease Veln's pollution problems, was in fact colluding with the criminal underworld. Eventually the role evolved into the Lady Forleon character of the final play.

Full Cast List:

The Doctor Peter Davison
Nyssa Sarah Sutton
The Koteem Nicholas Briggs
Lady Forleon Jemma Churchill
Gilbrook David Daker
Quain Nigel Hastings
Brodlik David Mallinson
Veline Emma Manton
Seedleson Michael Smiley
Murone Philip Wolff

The Production Team:

Writer Nicholas Briggs
Director Nicholas Briggs
Sound/Music Nicholas Briggs
Theme Music David Darlington
Producers Gary Russell and
Jason Haigh-Ellery
Executive Producer for the BBC Jaqueline Rayner
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