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Stage Fright was the third story in the audio anthology The Sixth Doctor: The Last Adventure, produced by Big Finish Productions. It was written by Matt Fitton and featured Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor, Lisa Greenwood as Flip Jackson, Christopher Benjamin as Henry Gordon Jago and Trevor Baxter as George Litefoot.

Publisher's summary[]

The Doctor and Flip visit Victorian London, where investigators Jago and Litefoot explore theatrical performances that have echoes of the Doctor's past lives...

Plot[]

At the New Regency Theatre, the Valeyard is staging a show, with the help of three actors. The show represents the Fourth Doctor's death, with the three actors standing as Adric, Nyssa and Tegan. As the scene reaches the climax, and the actors try their best, a machine the Valeyard put on stage starts working.

A while later, the Sixth Doctor brings Flip to the theatre, as part of her education, but they find it closed. They then reach Jago and Litefoot to the Red Lion, where Jago explains to them that a generous patron, Mr. Yalevard, has rented the theatre to put on a private show of its own composition. The Doctor proceeds to introduce Jago and Litefoot to Flip; as the conversation goes on, Litefoot mentions the arrival of some corpses at the morgue, whose identification has proved to be impossible due to their condition. The Doctor offers to take a look and help, and he and Litefoot leave; as for Flip, Jago offers her a visit to the theatre under his guidance, and the Doctor leaves her with him.

Jago and Flip arrive to the theatre just as the Valeyard, together with two young actors, is about to perform another scene of his "show", this time a reenactment of the First Doctor's death (the two actors stand for Ben and Polly). The Valeyard offers Flip to join the show as an understudy, but Flip refuses, saying she suffers from stage fright, due to a traumatic childhood experience. Flip and Jago stay to watch the show, and they too fall prey of the mysterious machine as it starts working, feeling dizzy and sleepy.

At the mortuary, the Doctor recognises the clothes the three corpses wear as a poor imitation of what Adric, Nyssa and Tegan wore at the moment of his fourth regeneration. He also notices that all three of them were aged to death. Litefoot shows him a pendant found with the bodies, with a writing on one side he couldn't read. The Doctor recognises the writing as Ancient Gallifreyan, and understands not only this is the Valeyard's doing, but also that he is leaving these corpses and traces for him to find. Worried for Flip and Jago, he and Litefoot rush to the theatre, where they find only Flip asleep; the two actors and the mysterious machine are vanished. Unbeknownst to them, a recovered Jago is taking the Valeyard to the Red Lion, where the latter one intends to do a casting call.

Investigating what remains of the stage, the Doctor, Flip and Litefoot finds countless pages of a script, titled "Death of a Prydonian", who forces the Doctor to tell Flip about regeneration and his previous lives. They also find the address of a costume shop, a propriety of the Valeyard; when they reach him, they find it closed, but Flip accidentally find an entry through the force field it shields. The shop is actually the Valeyard's TARDIS, and the Doctor sees various dresses, including a copy of his coat.

Meanwhile, the Valeyard has cast a young Scot actor, Drew McDonald, for his next show, and had persuaded Jago and Ellie Highson to star in its next rehearsal: a reenactment of the Third Doctor's death (Jago stands for the Brigadier and Ellie for Sarah Jane). The Doctor, Litefoot and Flip arrive in the nick of time to stop the rehearsal, managing to save Ellie and Jago's life. The machine the Valeyard is using absorbs emotions from the actors, and the Valeyard is using it to sustain himself; Ellie and Jago were able to resist because of her strong psychic abilities and his "familiarity" with alcohol. The Valeyard escapes through a trap door, and Flip pursues him, only to find herself trapped in the Valeyard's TARDIS and "enlisted" for his next show, together with Drew.

At the Red Lion, the Doctor receives an invitation from the Valeyard to attend the new show, now called "Death of the Doctor"; despite Litefoot and Ellie offering to come with him, he refuses their help. He reaches the theatre, when the Valeyard is reenacting the Second Doctor's trial, with the hypnotised Drew and Flip standing for Jamie and Zoe; as soon as he tries to stop the show, the Valeyard reverses the polarity of the machine so that it now absorbs the Doctor's negative emotions. This was his plan all along: infuriating and taunting the Doctor, so that his anger and indignation may be his source of sustainance. Awoken from the Valeyard's hypnosis, Flip distracts the Doctor by reciting some nursery rhymes. Seeing her try to ignore her stage fright to help him fills the Doctor with pride and joy for having friends, breaking the connection with the Valeyard.

At that moment, a mob of actors Ellie and Jago gathered breaks into the theatre and assaults the Valeyard and its machine, out of anger for what he did to their fellows. The Valeyard, through, manages to escape, rejoicing for the fact he winned in having the Doctor's energy; as for the machine, it explodes.

The next morning, the Doctor bids goodbye to Jago and Litefoot, refusing their offer to stay a bit longer: the confrontation with the Valeyard let him shaken and depressed, not to mention worried about the chance he may one day become him. Flip tries to comfort him the best she can, as they leave in the TARDIS, while Jago says he would be interested in putting on a show about a man fighting with his negative side.

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