Seasons of Fear was the thirtieth story in Big Finish's monthly range. It was written by Paul Cornell and Caroline Symcox and featured Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor and India Fisher as Charlotte Pollard.
On New Year's Eve, 1930, the Eighth Doctor lets Charley keep her appointment at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. But his unease at what he's done to time by saving her life soon turns into fear. Sebastian Grayle: immortal, obsessed, ruthless, has come to the city to meet the Time Lord. To the Doctor, he's a complete stranger, but to Grayle, the Doctor is an old enemy.
An enemy that, many years ago, he finally succeeded in killing. And this is his only chance to gloat.
The Doctor and Charley desperately search human history for the secret of Grayle's power and immortality. Their quest takes in four different time periods, the Hellfire Club, the court of Edward the Confessor, and the Time Vortex itself. And when the monsters arrive, the stakes are raised from the life of one Time Lord to the existence of all humanity.
The Doctor recounts how he met Sebastian Grayle after keeping his promise to Charley and taking her back to Singapore on the eve of December 31st, 1930. Sebastian gloats to the Doctor that his master's have taken control of the world and created an alternative timeline and further explains that he is from the Doctor's future where he, Grayle, has killed him and walks off. Charley finds him and after explaining to her whom he just met, they return to the TARDIS to figure out what is going on. They hatch a plan to stop Grayle by preventing him from ever meeting his so-called "masters". They arrive at his old family home and rummage through his stuff, finding evidence to support the Doctor's theory of why Sebastian approached Alex earlier in the day.
The Doctor and Charley arrive in 305 AD during the Roman empire on the advice that this was the first recorded instance of the surname Grayle throughout human history. They meet Decurian Graylisle (Grayle's earliest life) and after questioning him the Doctor decides to investigate this "temple" that he is so desperate to get to and they depart. The Doctor discovers it is a cult while Charley is contacted by a mysterious voice. She finds the Doctor and informs him and they investigate it, in the process discovering that they have arrived at a point before Grayle became the man they met. A ceremony begins in the temple and Charley and the Doctor discovers that Grayle had made a deal with the voice from the device Charley heard earlier commanding him to gather the people in the temple as a sacrifice to them in order for them to grant him immortality. The Doctor tells the men to leave while he attempts to investigate the strange lights in the sky.
The Doctor attempts to talk Graylisle out of what he's doing by bargaining with him but he refuses. Charley manages to save him but Graylisle escapes and the Doctor and Charley are seemingly trapped...
The Doctor and Charley manage to get into the TARDIS and escape. The Doctor deduces that Grayle will attempt to gain immortality again but seems to only be able to do so at certain times and the Doctor surmises that the ones offering him this power must be inhibited by something due to their location, hence the long waits between times. He finds that the beam attempting to get to Grayle originated in the Ordinand system, a system surrounded by black holes and planetary disturbances making it possible to only contact Earth every 750 years. They decide they need to stop his next attempt and next visit London in 1055 and visit the court of Edward the Confessor. They find a radioactive source in the court and suspect it is Grayle. After meeting Edward (who is already acquainted with the Doctor from another time) they quietly confront Grayle at his table in the court but he is still bent on executing his plan. Just then Charley is poisoned from a drink she was having (orchestrated by Grayle secretly), and the Doctor rushes to treat her back in the TARDIS but is followed in by Grayle. They are arrested by Edward though after being tricked by Grayle and chained up in the dungeon. However, upon revealing his plan to take over Edward's throne and use holy metal (which the Doctor identifies as plutnoium) and bring his masters to Earth and gain immortality, Edward reveals that they were suspicious of him and attempt to stop him but it is too late and Grayle attempts to summon his masters. The Doctor, however, manages to stop Grayle again but Grayle sends him to his death...
The Doctor barely manages to escape and Grayle falls into the river near the castle and they watch him escape. The Doctor explains his suspicions to Charley and says they must go forward in time again to stop him. Then he and Charley have a heart-to-heart chat about his actions and Grayle's intents and Charley tries to reassure him over his actions of trying to kill Grayle but the Doctor is still suspicious. They land in 19th century Buckinghamshire as the TARDIS detects Grayle's presence there. After doing some exploring, they find themselves in Wickham caves, home of the Hellfire club whom they have encountered before although earlier in their time stream and later for the members. They are discovered by Richard Martin who reveals that they are in the club founded by sir Sebastian Grayle. He takes them to meet Sebastian. The Doctor, Charley and Grayle are reunited but in a strange gesture Grayle invites them to stay as guests and the Doctor accepts, and once alone, explains to Charley that Grayle must be in a good mood because he feels invulnerable as his goal is probably close to fruition, which is the perfect time to start asking him questions, perhaps maybe being able to find out who his masters are.
At dinner, the Doctor accidentally insults Grayle's latest fiancee, Lucy, and Grayle challenges him to a duel, which he accepts. The Doctor and Grayle begin their duel and Grayle manages to injure him but the Doctor reveals his sword is a special one that is able to suck out alien energy, the one keeping Grayle young and immortal. Disgraced in loss, Grayle kidnaps Lucy and makes a getaway, planning to use her as a sacrifice for his masters as part of the final part of his plan because they need organic matter to feed on as passing through the black hole starves them. The Doctor, Charley and Richard give chase and find Grayle but it is too late as the gate has opened. A giant metal egg appears and the Doctor recognises them as Grayle frees them, and Grayle's masters are revealed to be the Nimon, come to feast on the Earth...
The Nimon's require the psyionic oscillator, a gold coin that Grayle cannot find, when Lucy reveals that she and her father are thieves and the marriage was a ruse to knab Grayle's fortune and with any luck, Lucy's father, who was merely posing as Richard Martin, has made his getaway with the fortune. Grayle runs back to the house and encounters Lucy's father who begs for her safe release, while the Doctor investigates the weak Nimon's plan. Discovering what to do, and being joined by Lucy's father who was thrown back into the lair by Grayle, they escape to the TARDIS to enact the Doctor's plan while Grayle finds the oscillator and frees the Nimon. The Doctor gives Lucy instructions while inside the TARDIS but Grayle manages to get inside, and the Doctor seemingly sacrifices himself by flinging himself and the Nimon accompanying Grayle into the time vortex. Grayle continues his plan but Lucy delivers the Doctor's message to Charley: "Fast return switch, three times fast". Knowing what to do, Charley instructs Lucy to distract Grayle while she enacts a plan.
The Doctor carries out his plan and ends up in the third century in Rome again. He first talks to the cult that opposes the demon bull Mithras that he and Charley met earlier and tells them that the very demon bulls they had sworn to destroy will be arriving shortly and to prepare for battle and finds Graylisle again. He discovers that all Graylisle really wanted was money to have an inheritance so that he could marry his beloved Julia and the Doctor gives him an inheritance. Just then the TARDIS arrives and Grayle steps out and confronts the Doctor but sees himself and the Doctor explains to Graylisle that this is who he becomes. The Nimon arrive but are immediately killed by the warriors with the Doctor having provided them with special weapons. Grayle attempts to kill the Doctor but Graylisle kills himself (Grayle), disgusted with his future self and fearing what it is he had become. The Doctor gives Graylisle quick instructions on how to finish off the machine to stop the Nimon from landing while he explains to Charley that the timeline will then be corrected and they will drop off Lucy soon enough.
The Doctor and Charley return to Singapore on New Year's Eve 1930 but the Doctor still has a strange feeling that something isn't right.
Back in the present the Doctor explains everything that happened to Rassilon.
Lucy returns home to find her father despite him supposedly dying and suddenly sees a spectral image of what appears to be Charley, but it reveals itself to be something else and feeds on her and her father before declaring its intent to find the Doctor and Charley....
- The Doctor - Paul McGann
- Charley Pollard - India Fisher
- Sebastian Grayle - Stephen Perring
- Lucillius / Richard Martin - Stephen Fewell
- Edward the Confessor - Lennox Greaves
- Edith - Sue Wallace
- Marcus / Nimon Voice - Robert Curbishley
- Lucy Martin - Justine Mitchell
- Rassilon - Don Warrington
- Waiter / Prisoner - Gareth Jenkins
- According to Charley, the Doctor smells of honey.
- The Doctor acquires various aliases such as Ambrosius Clemensis and Sir Peter Pollard.
- Charley thinks that the Doctor lets her win when they play Scrabble.
- Charley has read a lot of Jane Austen novels.
- When questioned by Sebastian Grayle, the Doctor wonders whether Sebastian has mixed him up with another Timelord, as he doesn't say "You will obey me" (a reference to the Master), he doesn't meddle (a reference to the Meddling Monk) and that he's "not a glamorous woman" (a reference to the Rani).
- The Doctor uses a genetic sampler to get a sample of Alex Grayle's DNA out of Charley's mouth after she had been kissing him in order to trace him back to his family home.
- The Nimons use psyionic technology.
- The Abott of Felsicar is the greatest expert on human genealogy in the milky way.
- A man named "Jesus" is mentioned as being hanged on a cross a few days ago although his fate is unknown.
- This story marks the first appearance of the Nimon in an audio drama.
- This audio drama was recorded on 19 and 20 January 2001 and 27 February 2002 in Bristol and London.
- Although the publisher's summary states that the story begins at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, this is incorrect, as the Doctor's opening monologue in Part 1 states that he had taken Charley to the Singapore Hilton hotel.
- When discussing Grayle's immortality with Charley, the Doctor notes that he considers his ability to regenerate superior to Grayle just living forever as regeneration allows him to change where Grayle remains stuck in his existing viewpoint; this is in sharp contrast to the Doctor's attitude towards regeneration in his tenth and twelfth incarnations, with these later Doctors initially reluctant to change out of fear of losing the men they were.
- Charlie jokes about the Doctor "always playing the fool to keep his enemies talking", a technique commonly used by the Doctor's other incarnations as well, for example, the fourth Doctor, in order to find out people's (often evil) plans.
- When Grayle attempts to sacrifice the men in the temple to appease the Nimons and gain immortality at the end of episode 1, Dalek voices can be heard in the background.
- This is one of the few main range Doctor Who audios in which a curse word is verbally spoken. When Charley and the Doctor arrive in Edward the Confessor's court and spot Grayle, the Doctor mentions seeing tension patterns on his head and says it's only something one picks up on when "you're used to the bitchiness of Timelord society". As Doctor Who is primarily a franchise aimed at children, cursing and rude words have typically not been a part of the program (although this has been relaxed somewhat in the revived series due to a shift in the demographic). Note that this does not include spinoffs such as "Torchwood" which are aimed at a more mature audience and do include the use of such words.
- Charley tells the Doctor that she stowed away on the R101 in order to meet a young man named Alex Grayle in the Singapore Hilton on New Year's Eve. (AUDIO: Storm Warning)
- Charley has been thinking about her survival since her encounter with Edith Thompson in Edward Grove on 24 December 1906. (AUDIO: The Chimes of Midnight)
- The Doctor previously encountered the Nimon on Skonnos during his fourth incarnation. (TV: The Horns of the Nimon)
- When the Nimon arrive on Earth, Grayle calls the Hellfire Club members who are to be consumed by the Nimon "weakling scum", a reference to the Co-Pilot calling the tributes from Aneth the same thing. (TV: The Horns of Nimon)
- The Doctor and Charley last encountered the Hellfire Club in Malebolgia in 2003. (AUDIO: Minuet in Hell)
- A Dalek appears in Roman times. This is explained in AUDIO: The Time of the Daleks.
- Felsecar (Monks and Abbeys) are mentioned in PROSE: Love and War and PROSE: Human Nature.
- The being that attacks Lucy and Richard Martin is revealed in AUDIO: Neverland.
- The Fourth Doctor previously visited Roman Britain in 60 AD in the company of Leela, where they encountered Boudica during her revolt against the Roman occupation. (AUDIO: The Wrath of the Iceni)
- Charley mentions to the Doctor that she attended an orgy before but did not stay for long. (AUDIO: Minuet in Hell)
- The Doctor once again recites the Zagreus nursery rhyme. (AUDIO: Project: Twilight)
- The Celestial Toymaker would later refer to the Nimon in a riddle while Charley was playing his games in the Celestial Toyroom. (AUDIO: Solitaire)
- The situation that the Doctor is in during his narration is revealed in AUDIO: Neverland.
- Alex Grayle would later tell Charley's parents Lady Louisa and Lord Richard Pollard that he danced with her in Singapore on 31 December 1930. (AUDIO: The Fall of the House of Pollard)
- The Doctor yells "Geronimo" which becomes a habit of his in his Eleventh incarnation. (TV: The End of Time et al.)
- The Doctor mentions that he rarely touches meat. He decided to become a vegetarian in his Sixth incarnation. (TV: The Two Doctors)
- The Doctor says that he "had his moments with swords". (TV: The Sea Devils, The Masque of Mandragora, The Androids of Tara, The King's Demons)
- The Doctor left Edith at the altar much like he would later do in his tenth incarnation. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)
- The Eighth Doctor had previously had a glimpse of this adventure when he looked into a Tomorrow Window. (PROSE: The Tomorrow Windows)
- After Charley escaped from the Ever-and-Ever Prolixity, a Viyran agent was stationed in Karachi to search for her. (AUDIO: The Fall of the House of Pollard)
- When questioned by Sebastian Grayle, the Doctor wonders whether Sebastian has mixed him up with another Time Lord, as he doesn't say "You will obey me" (a reference to the Master), he doesn't meddle (a reference to the Meddling Monk), and that he's "not a glamorous woman" (a reference to the Rani). (TV: The Time Meddler, Terror of the Autons, The Mark of the Rani, et al.)
- The Doctor uses the fast return switch as part of his plan. The TARDIS fast return returns the TARDIS to a previous destination where it had landed before. (TV: The Edge of Destruction, et al.)
- Official Seasons of Fear page at bigfinish.com; note that it is out of print and is available as download only.
- Seasons of Fear Transcript
- DisContinuity for Seasons of Fear at Tetrapyriarbus - The DisContinuity Guide