An Unearthly Woman was the first story of the audio anthology, The Diary of River Song: Series Six. It was written by Matt Fitton and featured Alex Kingston as River Song, Claudia Grant as Susan Foreman, Jamie Glover as Ian Chesterton, Jemma Powell as Barbara Wright and David Bradley as the First Doctor.
Publisher's summary[edit | edit source]
Coal Hill School has a new member of staff: an educated woman, who seems to specialise in every subject. Meanwhile, teachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright have concerns over the behaviour of one of their pupils.
Plot[edit | edit source]
A policeman is going on his watch on Totter's Lane, when he comes across River Song in a police uniform. She tells him she is part of a new police initiative open to women, and had been assigned to Totter's Lane. When the still doubtful policeman insists on checking at central station, River uses her perfume to make him fall asleep and forget their meeting, before taking his place.
The next morning, River is teaching at Coal Hill School, in Susan Foreman's class. The girl is intrigued by the unusual methods of her new professor, and notices she slipped some reference to the 1970s during her lesson. She confronts River about it, but River tells her she got confused, since she has only recently arrived as a suppliant teacher and had to prepare her lessons in a rush. Their conversation is interrupted by Lloyd Walker, one of Susan's classmates, coming to fetch her to walk her home.
On her way out, River is approached by Ian Chesterton, who after asking her some polite questions on how she's doing, invites her to join him and other colleagues to a nearby pub, the Red Lion, for some drinks. River accepts. At the pub, they join in conversation Barbara Wright and Ernest Newbold, just as Barbara was starting to confide the latter one some worries she had about one of her pupils. She is acting weird, asking strange questions during lessons, and Barbara suspects there may be trouble at home for her. When River asks who she's talking about, Barbara replies it is Sheila Page.
Meanwhile, Lloyd and Susan come across Sheila sitting on a swing, going higher and higher. When Susan comments she finds strange to use physic for fun, Lloyd remarks she must belong to a very "posh" family, very difficult from the one he is born. He confesses to be an orphan, with a supposed family in Birmingham nobody has located: that's the reason why he is London. As they move to leave, Sheila jumps off the swing at its highest. Lloyd reprimands her for the risk she took, and Sheila retorts by saying she only wants to have fun, unlike them. Susan notices she has been acting weird to get people's attention, which she disapproves, but Sheila dismisses her as just a "flower wall", and even gets annoyed when Susan mentions his grandfather. As the dark approaches, they all depart towards home: Sheila goes trough the woods, while Lloyd and Susan take the way along the canal. Approximately the same time, River too leaves the pub, claiming she is also working at the local police station, and is about to enter her night shift.
As she travels through the woods, Sheila comes across something lurking in the shade, but then goes on, seemingly unscathed. Susan and Lloyd reach Totter's Lane, and she insists on Lloyd not accompanying her, since her grandfather doesn't like seeing people around the "house". The two stumble upon River in her police uniform; as she explains what she's doing, the tracker in her hand starts to work, and she runs off in a hurry. Susan finally convinces Lloyd to leave, only to feel threatened by an unknown presence around her. Scared, she runs to the TARDIS and closes the door just as the unknown attacker arrives, to find River waiting for it. River fights the creature and takes care of having it feel her scent (so that he could recognize her as a half-Time Lord) before sending it on the run, only seconds before the Doctor arrives and sends her away, rather brusquely.
Next morning, after another lesson, Susan confronts River about the events of the night before: she knows River is another time traveller. River acknowledges that, and reveals to Susan she heard about a bounty endangering the Doctor and Susan. She is tracking down the hunter, but she needs time. She tells Susan she figured out that it's safe in the daylight, but invites her to run home by night, and recommends her to tell nothing to the Doctor (which he admits to know, "in another life"). Susan suggests that maybe they should leave, but River advises agains that, "at least not right now". Susan agrees to that: even if she doesn't know why, she instinctively trusts the woman.
Later that afternoon, Ian meets with Barbara in the staff room, as she is looking for River: the C3 laboratory is a mess after her lesson. Barbara confides in him that Sheila Page that day was more troublesome than before, which astounds Ian, since she skipped his lesson in the afternoon. Worried about her, Barbara suggests to Ian they should go and talk to the family, but Ian doesn't take notice of this and storms off to reach River in her gym class. Barbara goes to Newbold to ask him about Sheila; Newbold tells her that the girl and Lloyd Walker are staying with Mr and Mrs Mitchell, their foster cares, but refuses to give her more information than that. Barbara insists, and in doing so mentions that Sheila skipped both Ian and River's classes that afternoon. The mention of River reminds Newbold of a peculiarity in her curriculum he wanted to check; taking advantage of his distraction, Barbara finds and grabs the files about the Mitchells and goes off. Newbold finds out River gave the school a fake curriculum, and suspends her immediately. Despite Ian's protests, River accepts the decision, but Ian convinces her to go with him to the "Red Lion" to talk about it.
Barbara goes to the Mitchells' house to talk about Sheila, but Mr Mitchell rudely sends her away. As she leaves, she for a moment believes to see something in the mist and the dark near the Mitchells' house. When Sheila comes back home lately, Mitchell confronts the two kids and berates Sheila, admonishing her not to have the school come down on him if she doesn't want him to throw out her and Lloyd. After the fight, Mitchell hears some noises upstairs, and goes upstairs to punish Sheila for what he thinks it's her throwing a tantrum.
Barbara reaches River and Ian at the pub, and tell them what happened. River notices Sheila, Lloyd and Susan are rather close, and wonders if they share a deeper bond than just being the new kids. As Ian goes to grab a drink for Barbara, the two women have a conversation, where Barbara reveals to River she is a teacher because she wants to help the children using their potential. She also confides River she always wanted to travel the world, but she can't do that on a teacher's salary. When Ian comes back, he offers to go and talk to Mitchell himself; so does River, but Barbara refuses and states that she started it and she is going to end. However, she allows them to follow her back to the Mitchells' house. When they arrive, the three teachers find the door open and the house in a mess: it looks like the Mitchells have run away in a hurry.
River convinces Ian and Barbara to go and alert the authorities, but as soon as they are out of sight, she comes back to the upper floor, to investigate what she really found: the bodies of the Mitchells, dismembered, their atoms dissolved at a molecular level, which make her suspect she is dealing with a creature from another dimension. She also finds Lloyd, scared to the core, talking about some creature coming out of nowhere and attacking the Mitchells. River invites him to think about where Sheila might be as she disperds the bodies of the Mitchells in the Vortex. Lloyd screams to warn her someone is downstairs, trying to break in, but it's only Ian and Barbara, come back for further investigation. River tries unsuccessfully to convince her to go away and let the police do the job, then entrusts Lloyd to her care and gives them an appointment at the Red Lion, while she goes out in the dark, looking for the creature. She tries to attract it by exploiting her scent as a half-Time Lord, but her attempt is interrupted by Ian reaching her and persuading her to join him and Barbara at the pub; however, River leaves them immediately after, only giving Ian money to buy themselves drinks.
At last, amidst the fog, River reaches the creature, or rather, she reaches Sheila. The girl tells River she found a spaceship while she was staying at her previous foster house, and since then has been hearing a voice farthering her anger and making her unrest. As she is speaking, the creature inside her takes possession of her body and comes out: as River guessed, it's a being from another dimension, and it can't move by daylight, and was using Sheila as a cloak to move, only coming out at night. It also confesses it feels her emotions, and lashed out at the Mitchells inspired by her anger and isolation. It confirms to be here to hunt Susan and the Doctor, on account of the Ravenous; he came for the First Doctor because his young age would grant them a long feast. River and the creature fight (with Lloyd watching from the window of the room he's staying) and she manages to catch it into an electro-plasma net, whose energy is supposed to send it back to its dimension.
River goes to the pub and tells Ian she found an unexploded bomb, thus avoiding him or others to disturb her; by the time she comes back, unfortunately, the creature has freed itself, and also incapacitated her sonic trowel. Right at that time, Susan reaches her, wanting to help: she is bringing from the TARDIS a dimensional phase battery, which she passes to River. River connects to her Vortex Manipulator and uses the energy from it to disrupt the link between Sheila and the creature, sending it back to its dimension. Hearing the noise, Ian and Barbara come to check, and River sends Susan away before telling them it is safe.
The next day, Susan says goodbye to Lloyd and Sheila: apparently a previously unknown aunt for Lloyd emerged, and the two are going to live with her in Birmingham (Susan suspects this is River’s doing). River too says goodbye to Ian and Barbara, wishing them good luck on her “travels”. Susan and River walk together back to the TARDIS, where River gives the girl back the battery. Susan invites her to stay with her and the Doctor, but River refuses, saying Susan has to find her own way, and wishing her one day to come back home. As she exits the junkyard, she once again stumbles into the Doctor, which spotted her and Susan: he thanks her for her assistance, but invites for the future to “stay out of his business”. River jokingly flirts him for a little while, before going away.
Cast[edit | edit source]
- River Song - Alex Kingston
- Susan Foreman - Claudia Grant
- Ian Chesterton - Jamie Glover
- Barbara Wright - Jemma Powell
- Sheila Page / Nightstalker - Lizzie Stables
- Lloyd Walker - Edward Dede
- Mr Newbold / Mitchell - Owen Aaronovitch
- The Doctor - David Bradley
References[edit | edit source]
- River introduces herself as WPC Pond.
- River uses eau de forget on the constable.
- River teaches about the Medicis and Borgias as if she's met them.
- River claims to "get [her] Asimovs and Romanovs confused".
- Lloyd Walker is in Barbara's form.
- Students are just this week coming back from half-term.
- Ian thinks River's forename sounds Romany.
- River claims to be involved in supply teaching.
- Ian invites River to join the other teachers at The Red Lion.
- Barbara orders a tonic water.
- River drinks ginger ale.
- Susan finds the concept of playgrounds peculiar.
- The teachers regularly meet in the Coal Hill staff room.
- Susan is confused that people are "worried" about Lloyd's skin pigmentation.
- River's energy weapon fires photon blasts.
- River leads aerobics in PE class.
- Mr and Mrs Mitchell are foster parents.
- River teaches in Class C3, Ian's chemistry classroom.
- Barbara was inspired as a child by a book on Captain Cook.
- Elsie Fairbrother is a school governor who's also on the council.
- River uses her sonic screwdriver as a torch.
- River gives Ian two 10-pound notes, which he and Barbara agree is quite a lot of money on their salaries.
- The Nightstalker refers to Susan as a Time Lord.
- River's CV provided references to various colleges and universities when applying to work at Coal Hill.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- This story acts as a prequel to the first televised Doctor Who story, An Unearthly Child.
- This marks the first mention of the Ravenous outside the titular range.
- This story marks the first appearances of Claudia Grant and Jamie Glover as Susan Foreman and Ian Chesterton respectively outside of The First Doctor Adventures.
- The constable on Totter's Lane begins to sing the line "A policeman's lot is not an 'appy one", from Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera Pirates of Penzance.
- An instrumental section of "Oh, Won't You Please Love Me?", written for AUDIO: 1963: Fanfare for the Common Men as an early song by the Common Men, is clearly heard on the radio as Sheila enters the Johnsons' house. It clips off shortly before the vocals resume. Both Fanfare and An Unearthly Woman employed Howard Carter for music and sound. He was responsible for originally composing and recording that track, 6.5 years before this story's release.
- The headmaster, long established as H. Parson, is continually referred to in this story as Mr Parsons.
- A version of the Diary of River Song theme plays at the end, in the style of the Beatles, or rather, the Common Men.
Continuity[edit | edit source]
- River Song has previously visited Totter's Lane, hoping to catch a glimpse of the First Doctor. On that occasion, she quickly fled to avoid actually meeting him. (GAME: The Eternity Clock)
- River claims that the police officer uniform is from her mother. (TV: The Eleventh Hour, A Christmas Carol)
- The headmaster, Mr Parson, (TV: Remembrance of the Daleks, et al.) is unable to join the others at The Red Lion. It is mentioned that he still can't find a replacement for Okehurst. (PROSE: Time and Relative)
- The First Doctor doesn't want Susan to invite anyone back home to the TARDIS. Susan says he values his privacy. (PROSE: Time and Relative, TV: "An Unearthly Child")
- River's energy weapon is from Villengard. (TV: The Doctor Dances, et al.)
- Ian's chemistry classroom is referred to as Class C3. (PROSE: Nothing at the End of the Lane)
- A section of "Oh, Won't You Please Love Me?" by The Common Men plays on the radio at the Johnsons' place. (AUDIO: 1963: Fanfare for the Common Men)
- Barbara hopes to one day visit South America and get to see the temples there. River hints that she might one day be able to. In fact, Barbara would soon visit this area with the First Doctor, where she would be mistaken for an Aztec god. (TV: The Aztecs)
- Barbara said she had a book about Captain Cook when she was little. The Doctor and Ian will meet the Captain much later, but on that occasion Susan and Barbara won't have the occasion to know him. (AUDIO: The Transit of Venus)
- River knew to come to 1963 Shoreditch when she saw a bounty posted in Maldovar's. River is known to frequent the Maldovarium. (TV: The Pandorica Opens, et al.)
- The Nightstalker refers to the First Doctor "hiding in junkyards". (TV: "An Unearthly Child")
- The Nightstalker also says the Ravenous are trapped in another universe, and they are very hungry. (AUDIO: Day of the Master)
- The news on BBC One announces that a new science fiction series, Professor X, will be airing this Saturday. (PROSE: Conundrum, No Future, Escape Velocity, AUDIO: Klein's Story, The Crooked Man)
- River wishes Ian good luck on his own future travels, which Ian dismisses as impossible. (TV: An Unearthly Child, The Daleks, et al.)
- Susan claims once again to have invented the name TARDIS. (TV: "An Unearthly Child") River is surprised, and remarks that if this is true, the name "really catches on". (TV: The Brain of Morbius, Earthshock, Arc of Infinity, The Doctor's Wife, The Name of the Doctor, Hell Bent; AUDIO: Weapon of Choice, Intervention Earth, Songs of Love, Collision Course, et al.)
- Of Gallifrey, River says to Susan, "One day you may go back", echoing the Doctor's parting words to Susan when she would later leave his side on 22nd century Earth. (TV: The Dalek Invasion of Earth) She would eventually rejoin the Time Lords, far later in life, towards the beginning of the Last Great Time War. (AUDIO: All Hands on Deck) The Doctor himself would revisit Gallifrey many times, from the end of his second life onwards. (TV: The War Games, The Deadly Assassin, The Invasion of Time, et al.) Both the Doctor and Susan would also find themselves on Gallifrey, in the Death Zone, during the events of TV: The Five Doctors.
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