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Audio - Medicinal Purposes
Medicinal Purposes
(Robert Ross)

The story for August 2004 is a Sixth Doctor and Evelyn Smythe adventure titled "Medicinal Purposes". It has been written by Robert Ross - another newcomer to the Big Finish Productions Doctor Who audio range. Directed by Gary Russell it was recorded 18th and 19th March 2004.

 Colin Baker and Maggie Stables are joined by veteran actor Leslie Phillips who has starred in numerous films and on television from the 1930’s onwards including the classic films: Empire of the Sun, The Longest Day and various Carry on Films. More recent appearances have included Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and providing the voice of the Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter Films. He also acted alongside Jon Pertwee and Ronnie Barker in the radio play The Navy Lark.

Also starring are: Janie Booth, Tom Farrelly, Glenna Morrison, Kevin O'Leary and David Tennant (before he was cast as the Tenth Doctor).

Sixth Doctor
Sixth Doctor

 The TARDIS makes a smooth, and very unnatural, landing in a dark, wintry city which The Doctor identifies as 1820’s Edinburgh - heyday of the Scottish capital’s notorious Irish body snatchers William Burke and Billy Hare.

Finding themselves amongst the local prostitutes, and especially the feisty local prostitute Mary Patterson, The Doctor and Evelyn stumble upon one of Britain's most lurid, illuminating and grisly chapter in history. But their visit quickly turns sour as they soon get caught up with Doctor Robert Knox, who is not who he first seems.

 Despite their reputation for "hard drinking and cold-blooded murder" The Doctor is keen to meet the duo that indirectly aided medical research why plying their macabre activities and deadly trade to supply fresh cadavers to Doctor Robert Knox, on the pretence that it's all in the name of advancing medical science.

 While their client Doctor Knox is quite forthcoming about his scientific needs, Burke and Hare though are apparently not working in tandem. With William Burke harsh, aggressive presence Billy Hare it seems enjoys his terrible homicidal work more than someone who's just trying to atone for the death of his children…

Maggie Stables
Maggie Stables

 What other puzzling anomalies will become apparent in both our Doctor’s historical knowledge, and in Doctor Knox’s frame of reference? Why does The Doctor have so much trouble in finding Doctor Knox’s house when Evelyn and Mary had no problem at all? Why will the Time Lord become less relaxed about this historical detour and why does he have a cheery attitude towards the despicable actions of the Burke and Hare? What is interfering with the experience of the citizens he and Evelyn have befriended? And will the Scotch mist clear in time to make the true threat apparent? What ever it is may put the very fabric of the universe under threat.

 There is however, one other person who becomes caught up with Burke, Hare and our two time travellers - Daft Jamie a simple young man who is unaware he will be forever remembered as one of Burke and Hare's victims and one that The Doctor is forced to leave behind so that he can fulfil his tragic place in history...

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  • Featuring the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn Smythe.
  • Serial Number: 7CL
  • Number of Episodes: 4
  • Cover Length: 125 minutes
  • Episode Lengths: 1 = 33'09", 2 = 38'07", 3 = 35'22", 4 = 31'48"
  • Total Story Length: 138'26"
  • This story takes place between "The Trial of a Time Lord" and "Time and the Rani".
  • Early Title: "The Knife’s Edge".
  • Cover Illustration: Lee Binding
  • Recorded: 18th and 19th March 2004
  • Recording Location: The Moat Studios
  • Released: August 2004
  • ISBN: 1-84435-098-3

On the Back Cover:

 Edinburgh, 1827.

 The infamous body snatchers William Burke and William Hare are at large. The local prostitutes dull their fear with cheap whisky. The graveyard owls are hooting. Business is good.

 When accidental tourists The Doctor and Evelyn Smythe stumble upon one of Britain's most lurid, illuminating chapters in history, a simple case of interest in the work of dedicated man of science Doctor Robert Knox, quickly turns sour.

 Just what is that time bending Scots mist? What ever it is may put the very fabric of the universe under threat…

 As always.


On the Inside Cover:

 IT’S THE WORST KEPT SECRET of my life. I love Doctor Who and always have. As a writer if I’m known for anything at all it is for books celebrating the best of British comedy. But to be given the opportunity to write for the greatest hero ever created for television is a delight indeed.

 I was thrilled to bits when Gary Russell, the man who says yes, said yes. And I was determined to make my Doctor Who a dark, sinister tale with absolutely no jokes. That idea vanished as quickly as several alternative historical settings that just didn’t gel - in other words, Gary said no to them!

 In the end I couldn’t resist a bit of humour here and there. It was always the element that made the show so endearing in the first place. And in the end I couldn’t resist immersing myself in an old-style Doctor Who romp like the ones I was bewitched by over a clichéd mug of tea and a clichéd plate of beans on toast on a clichéd Saturday night; a good versus bad time-travelling adventure with a touch of the Hammer horror about it. For my goodie and my baddie I am blessed with two actors who need little introduction. It was Colin’s Doctor who charmed me during my awkward teenaged years and as for a national treasure like Leslie Phillips, what can you say? My comedy aficionado side is delighted to point out he played Dr Burke in the classic films Doctor in Love and Doctor in Trouble.

Robert Ross,
March 2004

Robert Ross is acknowledged as one of the foremost experts on British comedy, having written reference books on everything from Monty Python to Carry On, from Last of the Summer Wine to Fawlty Towers, as well as numerous biographies of the stars. He also contributes to DVD commentaries on British classic films such as the Carry On and the Doctor series. This is his first script for Doctor Who and he actually seemed to enjoy coming so the studio and seeing the director brutally cut huge random swathes of it out. Odd chap...

Production Notes:

Robert Ross’s initial concept for this story featured the events surrounding the legend of Jack the Ripper but both Big Finish and BBO Worldwide felt this idea had been done to death in fantasy and a fresh setting was needed. Producer Gary Russell had recently been to Edinburgh, and discovered information about both the Burke and Rare mystery and the recently exhumed underground Edinburgh city that existed in the shadow of the famous castle - so he suggested something along those lines to Robert.

 Having been involved for some years in the research and preservation of British comedy. Robert Ross is well acquainted with a number of actors from that circle. Therefore, when discussions were held to decide who should play the pivotal role of Robert Knox, many ideas were bandied around. Ross commented one day to Russell that he’d been lunching with Leslie Phillips, and the actor had commented that he’d love to do ‘one of your audio CDs’. Russell pointed out to Ross that Knox still hadn’t been cast and thus the script was given to Leslie to read. Luckily, he liked it...


Who's Who?

The Sixth Doctor

First television appearance: "The Twin Dilemma"
First chronological Big Finish audio appearance: "Whispers of Terror"

 He has been exploring the universe for hundreds of years. He fights injustice. He defeats evil. He helps people. The Doctor was travelling alone when he met Evelyn Smythe, a companion who has had a calming effect on him, and a deep bond of friendship and respect has quickly developed between the two. More used to loud, energetic youngsters, The Doctor has appreciated the change of gear the chocolate-cake-loving divorcee has brought into his life.

Doctor Evelyn Smythe

First Big Finish audio appearance: "The Marian Conspiracy"

 When she first encountered The Doctor, Evelyn Smythe was a history lecturer at Sheffield’s Hallam university. He took heron an adventure involving her ancestors in the sixteenth century - which lead to Evelyn joining The Doctor in his travels. Unbeknownst to him, Evelyn was resisting efforts by the university administration to retire her due to a possibly-fatal heart condition, and so she took the opportunity to explore both history and the wider universe with relish. Adventures in Cornwall, on The Doctor’s home planet and with Charles Darwin on the Galapagos Islands followed, and now the two friends continue to voyage onwards, fellow travellers into the unknown...

Full Cast List:

The Doctor Colin Baker
Evelyn Smythe Maggie Stables
Old Woman Janie Booth
Billy Hare Tom Farrelly
Mary Patterson Glenna Morrison
William Burke Kevin O'Leary
Doctor Robert Knox Leslie Phillips
Daft Jamie David Tennant

The Production Team:

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