State of Emergency was the fourth and final audio story in Big Finish Productions' first series of Counter-Measures. Commissioned as a "war movie," writer Justin Richards changed it to a political thriller, stating that a war movie was difficult to show scope, even with the few limitations associated with audio production.
Publisher's summary[edit | edit source]
There are creatures from another dimension on the streets, and traitors in the halls of Westminster. When the government is in jeopardy, Rachel, Allison and Gilmore take on a faction staging a very un-British coup...
Plot[edit | edit source]
In the wake of the recent general election, Harold Wilson of the Labour Party has replaced Sir Alec Douglas-Home as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom while the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, James Callaghan, plans to reduce the budget of the Ministry of Defence as a cost cutting measure.
Rachel has worked out the equations which will allow Counter-Measures to operate Professor Heinrich Schumann's matter transfer device with no repercussions. However, the device has seemingly disappeared from secure storage. Sir Toby orders Rachel and Allison to keep this information to themselves as he does not want Callaghan to learn of this and withdraw Counter-Measures' funding.
Having been transferred to ordinary duty, Group Captain Gilmore's unit is one of several which has been assigned to various places around London in the event of civil unrest. He confides in Allison that the tense atmosphere reminds him of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
On Sir Toby's orders, Rachel and Allison investigate reports of ghosts in a ruined monastery in the village of Starnforth, which is located approximately 30 miles from London. The surrounding land is owned by the Ministry of War, which built an airbase outside of Starnforth. Reading between the lines, Allison believes that the ghosts may in fact be tramps or gypsies. Having requisitioned a tape recorder from the MoD, Allison records the locals' testimonies, which include references to cattle and sheep being mutilated in the last several days.
General Peters believes that the election of the new Labour government marks the end of the British Empire, coupled with the fact that many of its colonies are gaining independence. He speaks disdainfully of the French, particularly its president Charles de Gaulle, and the European Common Market. Peters tells Gilmore and Sir Toby that, when the Free France Army arrived in Britain in preparation for the Normandy landings, the first thing that they did was hold a memorial service for Joan of Arc. Furthermore, Peters notes that MI5 believes that Wilson may be a Soviet spy and that his predecessor Sir Alec Douglas-Home was ineffectual but had the right idea about Britain's place in the world.
Having broken into the Ministry of War airbase outside Starnforth, Rachel and Allison discover a secret laboratory which contains not only Schumann's matter transfer device but all of his research as well as the calculations which Rachel had given to Sir Toby the previous day. After Allison accidentally activates the device, a winged demon materialises on the reception pod which begins to attack her and Rachel. However, the creature is shot and killed by Allison's fiancé Julian St Stephen. He allows them to go but warns them to stay away from London for the next several days.
Following her return to London, Rachel learns from Gilmore that dozens of the winged demons have materialised at various places all over London and are attacking civilians. However, Gilmore cannot take any action until he is ordered to do so by General Peters. He tells Rachel that he has been assigned to 10 Downing Street to protect the Prime Minister. Rachel determines that General Peters and his forces were aware of the threat in advance and that it is therefore not an invasion but a military coup against Wilson's government.
Gilmore arrives at 10 Downing Street to find that General Peters and Sir Toby are already there. The former orders Gilmore to escort Wilson to the Cabinet Room and then demands that Wilson resigns as Prime Minister and temporarily sign over his power to General Peters due to the state of emergency. Given that the British people would never accept a general as Prime Minister, the plan is to have Lord Ballister, a war hero and a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II who enjoys much popular support, make a television broadcast in which he will announce that he will head an interim government. This will be followed by a new general election in 1965 in which Labour would most likely be removed from office due to their apparent inability to deal with the "invasion." However, as Wilson refuses to resign, General Peters intends to kill him and claim that he was a victim of the demons' attack. In actuality, Sir Toby was merely pretending to support the coup in order to flush out the traitors and determine their numbers.
In the secret base in Starnforth, Julian reveals to Allison is an agent of British Army intelligence who reports directly to General Peters. He was ordered to become involved in Counter-Measures and get close to Allison. He was never in love with her and only proposed to her in order to prevent him from killing her. Furious at this betrayal, Allison kills him to an attempt to prevent him from teleporting one of the winged demons to the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street. However, one of the creatures materialises in Wilson's office given that Rachel had slipped a control device into General Peters' pocket and proceeds to kill him.
Following Peters' death, the attempted coup comes to an end. Wilson, who had previously promised never to participate in a government cover-up, plans to announce to the British people that the chaos surrounding the demons' attacks was in fact a nuclear attack drill. In recognition for the organisation's role in saving his life as well as British democracy, Wilson intends to provide Counter-Measures with funding for a period of five years. He later orders that the matter transfer device and all research pertaining to it be destroyed.
Cast[edit | edit source]
- Group Captain Ian Gilmore - Simon Williams
- Professor Rachel Jensen - Pamela Salem
- Dr. Allison Williams - Karen Gledhill
- Sir Toby Kinsella - Hugh Ross
- Prime Minister Harold Wilson - Duncan Wisbey
- General Peters - Shaun Scott
- Julian St Stephen - Alastair Mackenzie
- Marcia Williams - Helen Goldwyn
References[edit | edit source]
Politics[edit | edit source]
- The Labour Party defeated the Conservative Party in the recent general election.
- General Peters intends to appoint Lord Ballister, a war hero and a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, as head of the interim government.
- Peters is disgruntled with the increasing number of British Empire colonies that are becoming independent.
Transport technology[edit | edit source]
- Julian St Stephen and General Peters use the matter transfer device to bring creatures from the Outside into London to institute a period of panic so they can bring about their coup.
Weapons[edit | edit source]
- The military in London quickly run out of ammunition when battling the creatures.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- This audio drama's storyline was inspired by a real life conspiracy theory which alleges that, in 1968, Cecil Harmsworth King, the head of the International Publishing Corporation, plotted to overthrow Wilson and install Lord Mountbatten, the great-uncle and mentor of Prince Charles, as the interim Prime Minister. Like the fictional Lord Ballister, Mountbatten was a relative of the British Royal Family who served with distinction during World War II and was held in a high regard by the British public.
- Although it is not stated in the story itself, the 1964 general election took place on 15 October of that year while Wilson took office as Prime Minister the following day.
Continuity[edit | edit source]
- Allison and Julian have not yet set a date for their wedding. (AUDIO: Artificial Intelligence)
- General Peters refers to the evacuation of the British Army from Dunkirk between 27 May and 4 June 1940. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Exodus) The First and Eighth Doctors were both present at the evacuation. (PROSE: Just War, PROSE: Byzantium!; AUDIO: Fugitives)
- Using the pseudonym "John Rutherford," the Seventh Doctor served as an independent member of Parliament from May 1963 until the 1964 general election. (AUDIO: 1963: The Assassination Games)
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Footnotes[edit | edit source]
- Counter-Measures 1.5 Bonus Documentary CD