Spoilers are precisely defined here. Rules vary by the story's medium. Info from television stories can't be added here until after the top or bottom of the hour, British time, closest to the end credits roll on BBC One. Therefore, fans in the Americas who are sensitive to spoilers should avoid Tardis on Sundays until they've seen the episode.



Of the Mermaid and Jupiter was the twelfth short story in the Short Trips anthology Short Trips: Past Tense. It was written by Ian Mond and Danny Heap. It featured the Seventh Doctor and Bernice Summerfield.


It is 16 October 1829. Captain Samuel Nolbrow and his crew of the Mermaid await their last passengers before setting sail. The captain is impatient by the delay, but soon the Doctor and Bernice arrive. They set sail from Sydney. During the voyage, the Doctor makes the acquaintance of Professor Burroughs.

On the third day, the ship is becalmed. On the fourth day, a storm approaches. Benny and the Professor take refuge below deck, while the Doctor helps the sailors. Despite their best efforts, the ship smashes onto a coral reef. Crewman Peter Richley helps Benny to the reef, and all hands survive the wreck, though the Doctor has to convince Captain Nolbrow not to go down with his ship.

After three days, they are rescued by the Swiftsure. Captain McIntyre refuses Captain Nolbrow's offer of help and makes them his guests. Benny begins to enjoy herself, but on the third day she notices wet footprints on the deck. The next day, the Swiftsure is headed for rocks. Benny wakes the Mermaid crew, most of whom are below deck. Once again, the ship crashes, and once again, all hands are saved. This time, however, their stay on the rocks is short — the Governor Ready rescues them after only five hours.

On board the Governor Ready, Benny notices the Doctor sneaking into the cargo hold. Half an hour later, she notices him sneaking out and confronts him. She realises he is the one responsible for the wreck of the Mermaid and the Swiftsure, and he is about to do the same to the Governor Ready. He has set the ship on fire, and promises to explain later. All three crews take to the boats.

The next day, they are rescued by the Comet. Captain Scott of the Governor Ready spreads rumours that the crew of the Mermaid were jinxed. Tensions run high, and the Doctor is busy keeping the four crews from fighting.

Two days later, he asks Benny to help sabotage the Comet, as he is too busy keeping the peace. He tells her the wrecks are necessary to preserve the Web of Time. When a storm hits and the mast breaks, the Comet's crew takes to the boat, leaving the other three crews behind. Scott is shocked, but Nolbrow tells him it's his fault for spreading the rumours. The three crews clutch onto pieces of wreckage.

Benny is horrified to discover sharks nearby. Professor Burroughs is terrified, and begins splashing wildly. Crewman Hussey of the Mermaid tries to quiet him. The Doctor hypnotises Burroughs into calmness, and he and Hussey, who was accidentally hypnotised, play quietly in the water. The Doctor keeps the sharks away with a sonic pulse.

The next day, the three crews are rescued by the Jupiter. Benny notices the Doctor sneak away and follows him. He goes to the cabin of a sick woman who wants to see her son one last time before she dies. The Doctor sends Benny to fetch Peter, who is about the same age. When he tells Peter the woman's name, Peter realises it's his mother and goes to her.

Benny realises that the Doctor set up this reunion, and the Web of Time was never at stake. She is angry that he risked four crews' lives for a dying woman, but he explains that Sarah Richley's health improves from this moment, and she lives another twenty years. She helped the Doctor once, and he wanted to thank her.

The Doctor tells Benny that the TARDIS is currently in the Jupiter's cargo hold, the Doctor having preset the coordinates. When Benny asks him why they didn't just pick up Sarah in the TARDIS and bring her to Peter, the Doctor hems and haws, and Benny realises that he didn't think of it.




  • The epilogue to the story states that this is a true story. In the real world, Peter Richley really did reunite with his mother after several shipwrecks, though the Jupiter was one of the wrecks.


to be added