Protect and Survive was the one hundred and sixty-second story in Big Finish's monthly range. It was written by Jonathan Morris and featured Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor, Sophie Aldred as Ace and Philip Olivier as Hex.
If an attack with nuclear weapons is expected, you will hear the air attack warning. If you are not at home, but can get there within two minutes, do so. If you are in the open, take cover in the nearest building. If you cannot reach a building, lie flat on the ground and cover your head and your hands.
Meanwhile, the Doctor is missing. Will there be anyone left for him to rescue, when the bombs begin to fall?
After being awoken by turbulence in the Time Vortex, Hex arrives in the console room to finding that all of the console warning lights are flashing at once. While Ace arrived there before him, the Doctor is nowhere to be seen. Given that he does not respond to the Cloister Bell, Ace determines that the Doctor is no longer in the TARDIS. This is confirmed by the fact that the internal sensors are only detecting two life signs aboard: Ace and Hex. Having been piloted by Ace, the TARDIS materialises in the north of England on 9 November 1989, where they meet Albert Marsden. He and his wife Peggy have a son named Raymond, who lives in London and is married to a woman named Joanna. Peggy is concerned that she cannot contact him over the telephone.
Upon examining the TARDIS, Albert comments that he has never seen a white police box before. After pretending to be lost hikers, Hex claims that he was on his stag night and, after he passed out from too much drink, his friends placed him in the TARDIS as a prank. Ace tells Albert that she was likewise a victim of the prank and that she had never met Hex before waking up that morning.
The Marsdens are digging up the garden as the emergency broadcasts are advising people to fill cardboard boxes with any materials which are to the hand so as to prop up the doors of their fallout shelters in order to keep out the radiation. Via the radio, the emergency broadcast announcer advises people to construct a fallout shelter in the room furthest away from the exterior walls and roof and to use thick dense materials to reinforce the walls to keep out radiation. The announcer also states that flammable materials such as newspapers and magazines should be removed from the house.
Albert and Peggy tell Ace and Hex that the international tensions began following the democratic uprisings in the Eastern Bloc countries. Vladimir Kryuchkov, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union instructed the protestors to disperse and, when they refused to do so, he sent in the tanks. The Red Army fired on the protesters, even the children, resulting in a massacre. Following the massacre, there were protests on the Berlin Wall in East Berlin, which resulted in the Soviet Union entering West Berlin on the pretext of restoring order. This meant that the American airbases fell into the possession of the Soviet Union. In response, the United States issued an ultimatum to the Soviets. The Western powers' satellites detected a Soviet army amassing on the border of West Germany, which was destroyed by an American tactical nuclear weapon on 6 November 1989, three days earlier.
Having procured the Marsdens' newspapers for the last several days, Ace and Hex learn the reasons behind the impending nuclear war. The 5 November 1989 newspaper states that following widespread panic buying of petrol, 10 Downing Street announced that the remaining supplies are to be restricted to official vehicles while stocks of tinned foods are at a critical level. The following issue states that Parliament passed the Emergency Powers Act, which resulted in all airports being closed and all hospitals being cleared of non-critical patients to make room for expected casualties. Anti-war protests took place in London, Manchester and Liverpool, which led to rioting and looting and the imposition of a curfew in all cities in the United Kingdom. On 8 November 1989, the Archbishop of Canterbury appealed for calm and prayers for peace as the British government placed all emergency services on standby. The following day's newspaper states that Margaret Thatcher, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, is flying to Paris for an emergency meeting with NATO but is confident that a diplomatic solution can be reached. However, the Foreign Office is refusing to confirm reports of nuclear explosions in the Middle East. While Hex believes that they may have accidentally travelled to a parallel universe, Ace raises the possibility that they have remained in their own universe but the established course of history has been altered.
Before leaving Albert and Peggy's cottage, Ace stole the keys and attempts to steal their Morris Minor. While she and Hex are caught in the act by Albert, an air attack warning is sounded. World War III has begun. The radio is almost immediately knocked out by a warhead in the atmosphere, which generates an electromagnetic pulse which disrupted all communication. As Hex's eyes were open during the initial blast, he is able to see the bones in his hand as if he were looking at an X-ray. After he, Ace, Albert and Peggy retreat to the fallout shelter, Hex discovers that he has been blinded.
On investigating the state of the house after the blast, Ace and Albert discover that the wallpaper has been blackened and various items made from metal and plastic have fused together. Ace sees a mushroom cloud of approximately a mile high emanating from what had been the site of the Royal Air Force base located 20 miles away. Radioactive fallout begins to fall on the area, which the emergency broadcast announcer warns states cannot be seen but exposure to which for even a few minutes can result in death. The announcer advises people not to leave their fallout shelters under any circumstances during the first two days after the atomic blast.
After two days in the fallout shelter, Hex is increasingly bitter about not only his blindness but the fact that the Doctor has not arrived to rescue the two of them. He tells Albert and Peggy that he is from the future and that in his version of history, Mikhail Gorbachev was the General Secretary of the Soviet Union, the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s. Peggy begins to cough up blood, which Hex describes as being the first symptom of radiation poisoning. He determines that all four of them have absorbed a lethal dose of radiation.
After five days, Peggy and Albert are near death while Ace and Hex's symptoms, though serious, are less advanced. Following the Marsdens' deaths four days later, the time travellers go outside and prepare to bury them. While outside, they hear the emergency broadcast announcements. Ace realises that they have been hearing them for the last nine days in spite of the fact that all communication was disrupted by the electromagnetic blast on the day of the atomic blast.
Ace and Hex then witness time reversing to the point where they first arrived. Consequently, Albert and Peggy are brought back to life and Hex's eyesight is restored. They discover that they are not on Earth but in a pocket universe in which Albert and Peggy have been forced to experience the same ten days (8 to 18 November 1989) over and over again for over 100 years, possibly 200. They were placed in their prison by a malevolent entity. Ace and Hex attempt to break the pattern and break out of the time loop.
As the radio broadcasts are occurring earlier in this loop than in the previous one, Ace determines that the radio is not a warning system but is causing these events to happen. As Ace attempts to destroy the radio, she and Hex hear the Doctor's voice saying that that their actions will not alter or delay the course of events and the time loop will continue until he returns to deactivates. He claims that they must learn what it feels like for a human to suffer, to fear and to die.
While Albert is tending to his garden in the original timeline, the TARDIS materialises nearby and the Doctor claims to be an agent of the government named "Dr. John Smith". Upon examining the TARDIS, Albert comments that he has never seen a black police box before. The Doctor warns them that of the impending nuclear war, which he has already seen happen as he is a time traveller. He is investigating the cause of the alteration of history in the hope of averting the outbreak of World War III.
On 9 November 1989, the Soviet radar and satellite networks have detected over 100 American and British ICMBs being launched at various targets throughout the Soviet Union. In response, the Soviet General-Secretary orders a full retaliatory strike on NATO targets. In Moscow, the Doctor advises General Petrov not to launch the weapons. He then travels to the White House war room in Washington DC on the same day and attempts to persuade General Mitchell from launching a preemptive strike on the Soviet Union. However, his efforts are unsuccessful. The Doctor then travels to East Berlin, posing as an agent of the Politburo named Major Johann Schmidt. He attempts to convince Sgt. Schumacher to disobey the General-Secretary's orders to shoot the protesters who are attempting to cross the Berlin Wall into West Berlin as he knows in his heart that they are not enemies of the Revolution.
Following the death of the General-Secretary Konstantin Chernenko in 1985, two of the Elder Gods, who have the ability to possess the bodies of humans at different points throughout history, are plotting to alter history by having Kryuchkov rather than Gorbachev succeed Chernenko as General-Secretary. However, the Doctor informs them that he knows that their plan will fail as he has already taken steps to ensure that it does. The Elder Gods tell him that they can alter human history without the creation of a temporal paradox by maintaining Earth's proper timeline in a pocket universe. However, the Doctor reveals that he was bluffing and traps the Elder Gods in Albert and Peggy's bodies in the pocket universe which contains the alternative timeline that they created. The real Albert and Peggy are safe and sound in the original timeline.
The Elder Gods reveal to Ace and Hex that, while they are unable to break free of the time loop, they can alter the flow of time within the pocket universe at will. They had hoped to drag the Doctor into the pocket universe but their efforts were unsuccessful.
Having sent the Doctor a message through the radio, Ace and Hex hear the voice of another Elder God. Albert and Peggy rejoice as their master, Moloch, has come to set them free.
Although Ace is able to destroy the radio, Peggy states that it is too late as Moloch has already arrived. However, he cannot enter the pocket universe as it has begun to deteriorate over the centuries. This is what has allowed Albert and Peggy to gain control of the pocket universe. Moloch informs them that the pocket universe will collapse if they attempt to leave it unless there are other prisoners there to take their place. In Albert and Peggy's absence, it will exist for more than a few hours before collapsing into a singularity.
After Moloch orders Albert to kill Ace, Hex agrees to remain in the pocket universe while Ace refuses to abandon him. After the Elder Gods escape from the pocket universe, Ace and Hex briefly assume the identities of the real Albert and Peggy before their own personalities reassert themselves.
In spite of the fact that Ace had destroyed it, the radio is still working. Ace determines that, as the announcer (who now speaks in the Doctor's voice) continually warns them to stay indoors, they should explore the outside world. Since the Doctor told them that the pocket universe consists of the five mile radius around the Marsdens' house, Ace hopes that they will be able to reach its edge. After marching for almost five miles in the nuclear fallout, Ace and Hex are suffering from acute radiation poisoning. However, before they can reach the edge, they are transported back to the fallout shelter and once again believes that they are the Marsdens.
After the beginning of the next loop, Ace and Hex remember who they are and steal the Marsdens' Morris Minor in another attempt to reach the edge of the pocket universe. However, they are killed by the atomic blast within minutes. In the next loop, they find themselves back in the fallout shelter, though a week appears to have passed over the course of several minutes. Ace and Hex determine that Albert and Peggy were able to summon the TARDIS to the pocket universe as they were acting in exactly the same manner as the real Albert and Peggy would have. Consequently, instead of breaking the pattern, they give themselves into the time loop and begin to pretend that they are actually the Marsdens.
After several loops, a holographic recording of the Doctor appears and congratulates them on learning what it means to be human and tells them that only one of them can leave. After both Ace and Hex tell the recording that they wish to sacrifice themselves so that the other can live, it is revealed to be the final test as only a true human would agree to sacrifice his/her life to save another.
As Ace and Hex have passed the final test, the TARDIS materialises in front of them, though it is now black rather than white. Upon entering the console room, Ace and Hex find that they are not alone. They are immediately held at gunpoint by two women: Captain Lysandra Aristedes and Private Sally Morgan. Hex demands to know what they have done with the Doctor.
- The Doctor - Sylvester McCoy
- Ace - Sophie Aldred
- Hex - Philip Olivier
- Albert / Albert Marsden / General Petrov / Sgt. Schumacher - Ian Hogg
- Peggy / Peggy Marsden / General Mitchell - Elizabeth Bennett
- Moloch / Announcer - Peter Egan
- Lysandra Aristedes - Maggie O'Neill
- Sally Morgan - Amy Pemberton
- Albert and Peggy Marsden own a Morris Minor. They have lived in the cottage since Albert's retirement in 1984.
- Margaret Thatcher is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1989 while Vladimir Kryuchkov is the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Albert tells Hex that he is only able to remember Kryuchkov's name as it makes him sound like a James Bond villain.
- After the audio story Day of the Cockroach, this is the second Doctor Who audio drama released in 2012 to feature the anachronistic outbreak of World War III in the 1980s.
- As he does not appear until the final scene of the second episode, the first episode is one of the very few not to feature the Doctor at all. Another example of this occurrence in a Big Finish audio drama is the second episode of The Eye of the Scorpion.
- Although the President of the United States is not named, it was George H. W. Bush during the time period in question. He served as the 41st President from 20 January 1989 to 20 January 1993. On a similar note, the Archbishop of Canterbury is not identified. In reality, the position was then held by Robert Runcie, who served as the 102nd Archbishop of Canterbury from 25 March 1980 to 31 January 1991.
- The Doctor only appears in this audio drama in flashbacks. The same is true of the audio story Black and White. This was because Sylvester McCoy was busy working on The Hobbit film trilogy.
- This audio drama was recorded on 9 and 10 January 2012 at The Moat Studios.
- This was one of four Big Finish stories to air on BBC Radio 4 Extra to celebrate its 50th anniversary in November 2013. The other stories were Lucie Miller / To the Death, Fanfare for the Common Men and Farewell, Great Macedon. The story was transmitted over the 17th and 18th November.
- This story was originally released on CD and download.
- The Cloister Bell sounds to warn Ace and Hex that the Doctor is not in the TARDIS. (TV: Logopolis, et. al)
- Ace tells Hex that she has a baseball bat in her room. (TV: Remembrance of the Daleks)
- Hex recalls visiting Antarctica in 2045. (AUDIO: The Word Lord)
- When her hair starts falling out, Ace claims that the skinhead look doesn't suit her. She lost her hair before, when it was shaved by the Chapter of Saint Anthony. (PROSE: St Anthony's Fire)
- Hex is feeling bitter towards the Doctor due to the fact that he never told him about his mother Cassandra Schofield's fate. (AUDIO: Project: Destiny)
- Ace previously visited 1989 in the primary universe on two occasions. (TV: Survival; AUDIO: Crime of the Century)
- Lysandra Aristedes recognises Ace and Hex from their encounter in the Forge's beta facility in London in April and May 2025. (AUDIO: Project: Destiny)