Bedtime Story was the third story in the audio anthology, 100, which comprised the hundredth release in Big Finish's monthly range. It was written by Joseph Lidster and featured Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor and Maggie Stables as "Evelyn".
Once upon a time...
It's a tale of love and death and a family with a terrifying secret...
An old man, Jacob Williams, is putting his grandson to bed and decides to tell him about how he met the Doctor saying that, “without him, we wouldn’t be here at all”.
Years earlier, the Doctor and Evelyn arrive at the Williams’ household just after Jacob’s father, Frank’s, passing. Jacob was Evelyn’s former student. Evelyn explains how she and the Doctor were having tea at a nearby café and Evelyn had left to find a paper. Reading it, she found out about Frank’s death, told the Doctor, and the two arrived to offer their condolences. Jacob lets them in, and Evelyn meets Mary, Jacob’s mother, and gets friendly with her. Jacob tells the Doctor that him and his fiancé, Talia, have had a baby son and he is the reason Frank is dead and that Mary is going to die soon too. The Doctor is confused so Jacob takes him next door.
Jacob starts up his computer and shows the Doctor his family history. Everytime a son is born in the Williams’ family, the new grandparents are killed. This supernatural chain started in the 17th century and has been repeated in the family.
In the living room, Mary gets angry at Talia, calling her a “dirty, little trout“. Julia, Mary’s sister, and her husband, Patrick, who is sleeping, do nothing to help. Evelyn tells Mary to calm down, giving her some tea. Mary drinks the tea but continues yelling at Talia before choking, falling over and dying. Evelyn rushes to help but finds no pulse or heartbeat. The Doctor runs into the room, announcing he‘s solved the mystery but stops after being told Mary is dead. Jacob comes in and is shocked. The baby begins crying from upstairs and Talia goes to check on him. The Doctor examines Mary but discovers she’s not dead. She’s just been frozen in time. Jacob wonders if this is what has happened to his whole family from the 17th century onwards. He then worries about Frank, who has been buried alive. The Doctor orders Julia and Patrick to go to the graveyard and dig up Frank and bring him back to the house. They quickly leave.
The Doctor suggests that an alien shapeshifter has got its way into the family since the 17th century. He wonders how Mary, Frank and all the other Williams’ family members were frozen in time. He suggests it was a poison but wonders how it could have been administered. Evelyn offers the Doctor some cake and he finally catches on. The Doctor turns to “Evelyn” and demands to know where the real Evelyn is. It turns out “Evelyn” has been the shapeshifter the entire time.
The shapeshifter had crashed to Earth in the 17th century and met a man called Thomas and fell in love with him. It revealed its true disguise and Thomas accused the shapeshifter of being a witch. It was burnt at the stake but had managed to survive. It watched Thomas fall in love with someone else and have children. It disguised itself as a maid and listened one night as Thomas’ wife told her children a story about Sleeping Beauty. It had an idea to freeze the family in time with a poison to get revenge on Thomas and all the children that should have belonged to it. Everytime a new son was born, the shapeshifter would disguise itself as a friend and poison the grandparents. It then explains how it saw Evelyn get the newspaper from the shop, befriended her and then froze her in time in a field. It then returned to the café and told the Doctor about Frank’s death.
Jacob and Talia run into the living room. Talia explains how the shapeshifter has made a mistake and says to Jacob that the baby doesn’t belong to him. In shock, Jacob drinks the tea the shapeshifter made and freezes in time. The Doctor tells the shapeshifter that that’s the end of the Williams’ family and there’s nothing for it to do now. The shapeshifter screams in panic and evaporates. Talia, through tears, explains to the Doctor how she was lying: the baby does belong to Jacob. She just said that to confuse the shapeshifter. The police are called and they bring the real Evelyn back to the house; then Julia and Patrick return with Frank. The Doctor takes them, Jacob and Mary into the TARDIS for 100 years to see the universe. 100 years later, the Doctor returns Evelyn, Jacob, Mary and Frank back to the house only a few seconds after they left.
Back in the present, the older Jacob has finished explaining that to his grandson before he falls asleep. Afterwards, “Jacob” reveals that he is the shapeshifter. It had survived Talia’s confusion as easily as it had survived burning at the stake. It had run back to a café, found a waiter called Elliot, told him its story, froze him in time and took his form. And now it had returned and had frozen Jacob again. It concludes by saying, “there’s no one to help you now; the Doctor’s not here; so there’s no happy ending”.
- The Doctor - Colin Baker
- Shapeshifter - Maggie Stables/Frank Finlay
- Jacob - Will Thorp
- Talia - Martha Cope
- Mary - Susan Brown
- Julia - Lucy Paterson
- Patrick - Alex Mallinson
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