Destination: Nerva was the first story in the first series of the Fourth Doctor Adventures, produced by Big Finish Productions. It was written by Nicholas Briggs and featured Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor and Louise Jameson as Leela.
After saying their goodbyes to Professor Litefoot and Henry Gordon Jago, the Doctor and Leela respond to an alien distress call beamed direct from Victorian England. It is the beginning of a journey that will take them to the newly built Space Dock Nerva... where a long overdue homecoming is expected.
A homecoming that could bring about the end of the human race.
Leaving London and the company of Henry Gordon Jago and George Litefoot, the Doctor and Leela barely have time to dematerialise before the TARDIS receives an alien distress call…from the year 1895?! They follow the signal to a house in England, where a battle has taken place. Human and alien dead can be found; the Doctor identifies the aliens as Drellerans—and they were not the aggressors. He also finds a Drelleran stardrive, which is faulty and therefore potentially deadly. They flee in the TARDIS and try to track the drive to the ship it belongs to, but the drive’s effect on the TARDIS nearly knocks them off course.
They arrive on a transport ship, the Chandler, some centuries in the future. The ship is carrying a construction crew to a space station under construction… and the Doctor is thrilled to discover that the station is Nerva Beacon, which he has visited before (here called Nerva Dock). With Leela, he has a brief run-in with the crew’s foreman and shop steward, Jim Hooley, who decides they are new workers. The Chandler is forced to divert to a different airlock, as their expected lock is unexpectedly occupied by a space pod from another ship called the Aeolus. Upon arrival, he orders the Doctor and Leela into spacesuits and onto the station hull with the rest of the work crew.
The Aeolus pod is of Drelleran design, as is its parent ship; but it’s a human aboard, one Sergeant Henry McMullan. He enters the airlock without authorisation, and demands to be let in. Chief Technician Laura Craske calls her acting supervisor, Dr. Alison Foster for permission to let him in. Foster realises something is not right, and declines, but her signal is cut off, and Laura lets Henry in. He shakes her hand, and she suddenly becomes compliant to him. She takes him to the Control Centre, and introduces him to the station commander, Commodore Giles Moreau; Moreau declines to shake his hand. Moreau orders McMullan to medical quarantine as per standard procedure, but is interrupted by a system fault alert. Elsewhere, Hooley has escorted the Doctor and Leela back inside, and called for security; security arrives in the form of a hovering, robotic Drudger, and takes them (using mild force) to the Control Centre. Hooley returns to the hull. Moreau, meanwhile, traces the fault to the airlock where the pod is docked. McMullan tries to control the situation, and appears to mesmerise Leela, but the Doctor breaks her free of it. McMullan wants to shake hands with everyone, but Leela realises he is not what he seems. Moreau orders the Drudger to arrest them all, but it collapses in system failure. Laura, meanwhile, becomes suddenly weak and incoherent. On the hull, Hooley is behaving similarly to Laura; Foster orders him back inside.
The Doctor realises McMullan is wearing the same uniform under his spacesuit as the dead soldiers they saw in 1895. He realises the Aeolus is a Drelleran ship, and confronts McMullan about stealing it. A proximity alert sounds; the Aeolus has arrived, and will soon dock. Henry, it seems, is an advance troop, carrying some kind of fast-moving infection that affects not only people, but the station systems; it is carried on the skin, in the form of a separate, independently-acting epidermis; the Doctor dubs it an “Epiderm”. Laura quickly becomes a similarly-mutated creature. The commander of the Aeolus, Lord Jack Corrigan, contacts them. The Doctor, Leela, and the Commodore are forced to run.
Corrigan communicates with the Epiderms forming on the station, and says he and the crew will join them for the final unification of humankind.
As the Aeolus docks, the Doctor warns the others not to let the creatures touch them. Hooley enters the airlock, but the inner door won’t secure. He insists something is wrong with him, and Foster tries to intervene—but she is stopped just short of touching him by the Doctor and the Commodore. Hooley dies while they argue, and Foster is outraged; Leela is forced to hold her back. She sees Hooley begin to transform, and she flees with the others. Elsewhere, Corrigan comes aboard, and meets a security team—and absorbs them into the Epiderm entity. The Doctor’s group flees to the Chandler, but Moreau is touched by one of the creatures as the airlock closes; unknown to anyone, he is infected. They cast off from the station, breaking the airlock in the process. The Doctor sees, to his delight, that Nerva is orbiting Jupiter, as he once guessed.
Moreau sends a distress signal to the nearby supply ship from whence the Chandler originated, and requests a quarantine of Nerva, but is unsuccessful, as Jack blocks the signal. Jack tries to entice them back, and explains how he took the Aeolus in the nineteenth century and used it to try to build a British empire in the stars. The group discovers that the supply ship is already infected. With nowhere to go, Leela suggests using the TARDIS to get to Earth, but the Doctor thinks it won’t work—and it becomes moot, as Moreau transforms and blocks their way to the TARDIS. The Doctor locates spacesuits and gets himself, Leela, and Foster onto the hull. Outside, they see a huge ship coming—a Drelleran ship, centuries more advanced than the Aeolus. It teleports them aboard.
Two Drellerans meet them. They show the group a video of Jack’s initial conquest of a Drelleran expedition, and explain how he conquered the peaceful Drelleran society afterward. They explain that, in revolt, the Drellerans unleashed a virus which creates the Epiderm creatures. The infected Jack was compelled to return to Earth and infect the rest of humanity; it’s sheer chance that he landed on Nerva first. The Doctor argues that humanity has matured since then; Foster and Leela convince them of his trustworthiness. However, they have made up their minds, and they infect the trio with the virus. They then return them to the station, where the Epiderms wait.
When the Epiderm tries to merge with them, it begins to die. They realise they were infected with not the virus, but a cure. It spreads rapidly, and all over the station, people begin to recover and awaken. The exceptions are Jack and his crew; having used stolen Drelleran technology to extend their lives, they now cannot handle reversion to normal, and they die. The Doctor encourages Foster to take the opportunity to develop a serum against the Epiderm virus, because Moreau is still infected—and not only that, but his infection of the Chandler is separating them from the TARDIS.
Later, with the TARDIS recovered, Leela and the Doctor discuss their travels. He asks where she wants to go, and she takes him up on his previous offer to teach her about the universe. With that, they depart.
- The Doctor - Tom Baker
- Leela - Louise Jameson
- Dr. Alison Foster - Raquel Cassidy
- Giles Moreau / Jenkins / Construction Worker - Tim Bentinck
- Henry McMullan / Pilot / Construction Worker - Sam Graham
- Laura Craske / Construction Worker - Tilly Gaunt
- Jim Hooley / Drelleran 1 / Security Guard / Construction Worker - Kim Wall
- Lord Jack Corrigan / Drudgers / Drelleran 2 / Construction Worker - Tim Treloar
- Recording by - Paul Midcalf
- Assistant Engineer - Dale Nash
- Sound Design, Music, and CD Mastering by - Jamie Robertson
- CD Extras Interviews by - David Richardson
- CD Extras Edited by - Martin Montague
- Series Theme by - Ron Grainer
- Arranged by - Delia Derbyshire
- Theme Remastered by - David Darlington
- BFP Administration - Miles Haigh-Ellery, Catrin Hubbarde, and Alison Taylor
- Producer's Assistants - Paul Spragg and Frances Welsh
- Cover Illustration - Amazing15
- Booklet Design - Alex Mallinson
- Web Editor - Paul Wilson
- Producer - David Richardson
- Script Editor - David Richardson
- Executive Producers - Nicholas Briggs and Jason Haigh-Ellery
- Space Dock Nerva is in orbit of Jupiter in its early days on the "frontiers of space," and is equipped with Security Drudgers.
- It is several hundred years after 1895, after a data crash that happened in '24.
- Exactly twelve years earlier, Alison gave birth to a daughter whom she named Claire. However, she only lived for seven days.
- Leela describes "lights in [her] head" after being teleported.
- Security Drudger 5-5-Z-Alpha is equipped with a paralysis beam.
- The Epiderm is a virus that causes cellular mutation with one touch. It causes an uncontrollable division of cells that can bleed through metal hatches at the subatomic level and spread in space.
- Leela feels believing something can make it come true.
- Her knife cannot cut the Epiderm.
- Drelleran technology gave Corrigan longevity.
- The Drelleran civilization endured peace and harmony for millennium, having achieved enlightenment after their own ancient evil, which created the Epiderm.
- The anti-virus reverts the victims of the Epiderm who experience dehydration.
- The Doctor remarks that he could "travel in the TARDIS for a billion, billion years and not even scratch the surface of eternity."
- 1895 is "3 years ahead," dating The Talons of Weng-Chiang to 1892.
- The artificially intelligent Drudgers were previously featured in the Dalek Empire audio series, likewise written and directed by Nicholas Briggs.
- This audio drama was recorded on 12 September 2011 at Audio Sorcery Studios.
- The first part of this story was offered as a free download with DWM 467, along with a number of other "Part Ones".
- This story was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra on 16 May 2015 as an hour long compilation of the two episodes, with opening and closing credits read by presenter Toby Hadoke.
- This story is set immediately after The Talons of Weng-Chiang.
- This story was originally released on CD and download.
- The Doctor and Leela are still wearing the Victorian era clothing which they wore while battling Li H'sen Chang and Magnus Greel in London in 1889. (TV: The Talons of Weng-Chiang)
- Leela wonders if she and the Doctor will ever see Professor George Litefoot and Henry Gordon Jago again. Many years after she had left the TARDIS and taken up residence on Gallifrey, she would be reunited with Jago and Litefoot on being sent to the 1890s by Lady President Romana to investigate the time breaks manifesting in London during that era. (AUDIO: The Ruthven Inheritance, Dead Men's Tales) While travelling with Romana's first incarnation, the Fourth Doctor would later meet Jago and Litefoot in 1899. (AUDIO: The Justice of Jalxar) They would also travel with the Doctor for a brief period during his sixth incarnation. (AUDIO: Voyage to Venus)
- The Doctor uses a match from the box of Lucifers given to him by Professor Litefoot. (TV: The Talons of Weng-Chiang)
- The Doctor mentions that he once knew a butler whose name was Butler. (AUDIO: The Foe from the Future)
- The Doctor previously visited the Nerva Beacon on two occasions in the company of Sarah Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan. He tells Commodore Moreau that the Beacon will have "an interesting history." (TV: The Ark in Space, Revenge of the Cybermen)
- The Doctor's previous theory that the Beacon once orbited Jupiter is confirmed. (TV: Revenge of the Cybermen)
- The Doctor once again observes that, while it may be irrational, "human beings are quite [his] favourite species." (TV: The Ark in Space)
- The Nerva Beacon would remain in orbit of Earth until at least 16127. (AUDIO: Wirrn Isle)
- Official Destination: Nerva page at bigfinish.com
- DisContinuity for Destination: Nerva at Tetrapyriarbus - The DisContinuity Guide