Night of the Vashta Nerada was the first story in Classic Doctors, New Monsters: Volume Two, produced by Big Finish Productions. It was written by John Dorney and featured Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor.
Funworld was set to be the happiest planet in the galaxy. A planet of joy, of euphoria, of laughter and delight. Except construction was marred by reports of a predator and then, a few days before opening, all communication ceased.
In search of life after the disappearance of her employees on Funworld, Georgia Donnelly and her hired muscle in the form of Amanda Steele's hunting team find only the Fourth Doctor. They determine he is not the predator they are searching for. The Doctor joins them as they search the fair's control tower, cast in darkness with the power having been cut. The missing employees are all found, but all of them are dead, and their corpses nothing but skeletons.
Bennetto restores the power and Phelan, a psychic, uses her abilities to commune with the dead. She discovers they were attacked by a creature they were unable to describe - it was merely black and darkness in itself. The investigation continues until Bennetto is devoured by a swarm of blackness after entering a room that should have been lit.
Outside, Phelan is able to communicate with the entity. Her description, the Doctor realises, matches that of the Vashta Nerada, a species not known for their aggression and normally bound to their native forests. When Donnelley explains the planetwide forest was cut down to build Funworld, the Doctor realises that the Vashta Nerada's whole ecosystem was destroyed and they attacked Donnelley's staff in order to survive. Suddenly, Phelan developes a second shadow. She warns the team that the Vashta Nerada have developed a taste for human meat and are out for revenge, and then she is eaten alive.
The Doctor urges the rest of the team to abandon the planet forever, but Steele is determined to carry on the hunt. Donnelley, though reluctant to lose her investment, decides it is best to leave and departs the planet for Earth in Steele's ship. Steele and Grosta arm themselves with flamethrowers and attempt to lure the Vashta Nerada out of hiding. However, they are outflanked and the swarm begins tearing Grosta's stone body apart. At his urging, Steele mercy kills him with a grenade.
Steele is rescued by the Doctor in the TARDIS after he activates some of the funfair robots to buy a couple of minutes' distraction. Though they are safe in the Doctor's ship, the Doctor reveals that half the Vashta Nerada population has stowed away on Donnelley's ship. If they are allowed to land on Earth, they may cause their passive Earthbound cousins to become far more aggressive and deadly. In flight, Donnelley herself is killed as the Vashta Nerada catch up with her, shortly before the Doctor and Steele land on the ship.
The pair have no way of destroying the ship, but when the Vashta Nerada latch onto Steele, casting a second shadow, she hatches an idea. She acquires some poison, killing herself as the Vashta Nerada devour her and poisoning them as well. The Doctor confirms there are no more lifeforms aboard the ship and returns it to orbit around Funworld. He records a message, warning others that an environmental disaster has rendered the planet uninhabitable and that it should be avoided. He then leaves, lamenting how he was unable to save even one person.
- The Doctor - Tom Baker
- Amanda Steele - Pam Ferris
- Georgia Donnelly - Lorelei King
- Phelan - Emma Lowndes
- Bennetto - Matt Devitt
- The Doctor says that his previous companion has just departed for "Pastures New."
- Phelan is a psychic.
- Georgia Donnelly is the owner of Funworld.
- The Doctor describes humans as intelligent predators.
- Steele once killed an entire Sontaran assassination squad.
- Steele describes the Doctor as "a right wuss".
- The Vashta Nerada on Earth are peaceful, living on carrion and vermin rather than humans.
- Light slows the Vashta Nerada down. They are described as "insect-piranha."
- This is one of the few instances in a Big Finish anthology release in which the Fourth Doctor is present in a story set alongside stories featuring other incarnations. In this case, the Fourth Doctor took the place of the Seventh Doctor, who had featured in Volume One.
- The Doctor describes Donnelly as a "frumious Bandersnatch", a reference to a creature from the 1872 novel Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll.
- Phelan is offered a chance to travel in the TARDIS but dies before she has the opportunity to do so. The same fate also befell several characters in the revived series including Lynda Moss, Madame de Pompadour, Astrid Peth, Rita and Zygon Osgood.
- As part of the Classic Doctors, New Monsters boxset, Night of the Vashta Nerada was also bundled with Day of the Vashta Nerada, featuring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor. Day makes reference to the events of Night.
- Phelan refers to the fact that the Vashta Nerada exist on many planets, including Earth. (TV: Silence in the Library, COMIC: Untitled)
- The Doctor describes the Vashta Nerada as the piranhas of the air. (TV: Silence in the Library; COMIC: Untitled)
- The Doctor would later encounter the Vashta Nerada in his eighth, (AUDIO: Day of the Vashta Nerada) tenth (TV: Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead; COMIC: Untitled) and eleventh incarnations. (GAME: Shadows of the Vashta Nerada; COMIC: Space Oddity)
- The Gorlan Civil War is being fought. (AUDIO: The Two Masters)
- Following the deaths of Donnelly and the skeleton crew, the Funworld project was abandoned and the world became known as Theta 49. (AUDIO: Day of the Vashta Nerada)