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.



Sympathy for the Devil was the second Doctor Who Unbound audio story produced by Big Finish Productions. It featured David Warner as the Unbound Doctor with Nicholas Courtney as the retired Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.

This story was set post-The War Games, though in an alternate universe where the Doctor was exiled to Earth in 1997 instead of the 1970s. The universe of this story and its sequel, Masters of War, crossed over with the "mainstream" Doctor Who universe in the later release The Unbound Universe.

Publisher's summary[]

What if...the Doctor had not been UNIT's scientific advisor?

1997... and a lone exile arrives on Earth, years later than planned.

On the eve of the Handover, an advanced Chinese stealth bomber crashes in the hills above Hong Kong. The discredited United Nations Intelligence Taskforce has just 24 hours to steal the technology, rescue the passenger and flee to international waters.

Down by the harbour, there's big trouble in Little England — a bar owned by an old soldier who simply wants to forget the past. But an ancient evil is stirring in a place of peace.

The Doctor finds a world on the brink of terror. A world that has lived without him for years. A world that is frighteningly like our own...


After being put on trial by the Time Lords, the Doctor was exiled to Earth. He was meant to arrive in England in the 1970s but instead, he finds himself in 1997 Hong Kong, on the night of the handover to Chinese control.

Finding his old friend, the Brigadier, the Doctor discovers the dark turn Earth has taken as a result of his absence since 1968. Without the Doctor's expertise to deal with the many extra-normal attacks over the decades, the U.N.I.T. project failed, and the Brigadier was discharged due to resorting to destructive means to stop the various disasters, means that erased any evidence he could have provided to his superiors. As the two talk, an invisible plane crashes into the nearby mountain.

The Doctor and the Brigadier approach the mountain, looking for Ling, one of Alistair's employees. Trekking up the hill, Ling and Adam arrive in time to see the plane's cloaking device fail and its delirious pilot stumble out. The Brigadier and the Doctor then arrive, and the Doctor tends to the pilot's wounds. Translating, the Doctor learns that there was a passenger on the plane, sending Ling and Adam to find them. With the pilot needing medical attention, the Doctor renders him unconscious. When the Brigadier voices his confusion over a Chinese plane trying to sneak in a day early, the Doctor voices his own belief that the passenger may have been trying to sneak out of Chinese territory. Elsewhere on the hill, Ling and Adam find the barely alive passenger.

U.N.I.T. then arrives, much to the Brigadier's chagrin, led by Colonel Brimmicombe-Wood. Brimmicombe-Wood seals off the area and takes the pilot in for questioning. A local Buddhist monastery is used as U.N.I.T. field headquarters.

As Ling goes off to collect the Doctor, the dying passenger, before Adam's shocked eyes, changes into a new man. Stunned, Adam runs off after Ling. Searching for Adam, Ling finds his corpse and lets out a scream heard across the mountain. As the group makes for the temple, Brimmicombe-Wood reveals a photo of the passenger, a genius Western defector named Ke Le, the Brigadier explaining the namesake Ke Le Divisions and the machine used to create them. The Divisions are a Chinese group, presumed to be mind-controlled ex-convicts who work for the government, who function as either as security forces or suicide troopers. With it being believed that Ke Le now wishes to defect back to the West, U.N.I.T. has been sent to collect him.

In the monastery, the Brigadier visits the abbot, who tells him about the "soul jar" of which the monks have chanted, non-stop for 147 years. Meanwhile, the Doctor translates the pilot's speech, saying that Ke Le had threatened to kill him and ordered him to fly him to the temple, only for the plane's jump jets to fail, causing the crash. As the pilot is taken away by U.N.I.T., the Doctor muses on his warning of something that could "drains souls". The Brigadier then tells the Doctor about the soul jar with Ling recalling the passenger "changing". With this information, the Doctor works out that Ke Le is a Renegade Time Lord, narrowing it down to three that he is familiar with.

Adam's body is taken back to the monastery, as the soldiers assume he is Ke Le. Elsewhere, the real Ke Le turns himself in. Brought to the monastery, Ke Le identifies himself as the Master, pulling a gun on the abbot and forcing him to turn over the soul jar. After Ling identifies Adam, Brimmicombe-Wood's callous attitudes earn him the ire of the Brigadier, the two coming to verbal blows, Brimmicombe-Wood chastising the Brigadier for his failures, criticising him for failing to stop the Probe 7 disaster, and the plastic purges, amongst other invasions. As the Doctor is ready to give up, Ling notes that the chanting has stopped. Forcing the abbot to open the jar, the Master notes that its contents are alive before the Doctor and U.N.I.T. arrive. As Ling rages at the Master, the Time Lord reveals that within the jar is a psychic parasite, one that feeds on strong emotions, the chanting having kept its powers from reaching the city. When the abbot warns the Doctor of the parasite's reinvigoration, the Master greets his old friend before shooting the abbot and another monk, allowing the parasite to take command of the U.N.I.T. guards, Ling and the monks, the Master taking the Doctor, the Brigadier and Brimmicombe-Wood prisoner.

After the Doctor theorises on the parasite's limits, that it can only affect young minds, the Master calls him away for a talk, telling his old friend that his new plan is "perfectly honorable", explaining that the parasites arrived in a starship crash 150 years ago. Twenty years ago, the Master was in the employ of the United Nations who sent him to aid the Chinese at peace conference when Chairman Mao's actions caused China to lose control of the creatures. Discovering the parasites, the Master saw more practical application for them among the communists and defected. But now, the Master's use is coming to an end as he had never considered that the parasites might one day be sated and the machines are now inert. With the exception of the one in the temple, the parasites will be destroyed via a nuclear weapon at midnight. With the last parasite, the Master intends to rule the world to cause world peace. As the two Time Lords furiously debate their philsophies about intervention, the Master beings to rant that he had to live through the decades that the Doctor missed, listing off the chaos that the Doctor failed to prevent only to reveal that he is stuck on Earth. With his TARDIS placed "beyond [his] reach", the Master has been waiting for the Doctor for the last twenty years. The two strike a deal. The Master will aid in the destruction of the last parasite and override the TARDIS inhibitor. In exchange, the Doctor will give the Master passage off the planet.

With the monks chanting to keep the parasite's powers at bay, the group makes for the harbour, with only minutes to spare before the handover. As the soldiers prepare to evacuate, the Master reneges on the deal and demands the keys to the Doctor's TARDIS. Having anticipated this, the Doctor tricks the Master into the Little England pub. With his foe occupied, the Doctor has the last parasite loaded aboard his ship, taking the Brigadier with him as he flies off to Mongolia to dispose of it. Having discovered the ruse, the Master runs out of the pub in time to see the TARDIS take off, shouting for the Doctor to come back. Arriving in Mongolia, the Doctor and the Brigadier quickly unload their cargo, placing the soul jar with the other parasites and retreat back to the safety of the TARDIS.

In Hong Kong, as the soldiers prepare to leave, the Master begs Brimmicombe-Wood for passage back to England who refuses. With seconds until midnight, the evacuation boats turn back without the U.N.I.T. force. In Mongolia, the nuclear weapon drops, destroying the parasites.

Revealing that the destruction of the parasites will cause the Ke Le Divisions to go mad, something he didn't say earlier as he'd planned to be off-planet, the Master identifies a decloaking helicopter as belonging to the divisions. As the pilots go mad and open fire into the crowd, Brimmicombe-Wood frantically tries to report this to U.N.I.T. command while the Master laughs.

With the shockwave of the bomb's detonation having disabled the TARDIS' inhibitor, the ship lands on another world in another time. Eager to resume his travels, the Doctor invites the Brigadier to be his new companion who accepts a new lease on retirement. As they explore though, the Doctor quickly realises that he needs to find new footwear. His current shoes don't fit him at all.


Uncredited cast[]


The Doctor[]


Alternate timeline[]

  • The Brigadier ordered the saturation bombing of Surrey.
  • The Mars Probe 7 affair ended with a "line of mile-wide craters across America".
  • Stahlman Gas is a hot stock market option.
  • The battle against the Silurians has resulted in a hole in the middle of London, which has turned into a lake because UNIT sent a suicide mission back into the past with nuclear warheads to end the threat.

The Master[]

  • The Master briefly worked as a United Nations advisor before defecting to China.
  • Separated from his own TARDIS for twenty years, the Master has been trying to attract the Doctor's attention.
  • The Master, badly injured after the plane crash, regenerates. He steals clothes from Adam after killing him.


  • Clements has stated TV: The Mind of Evil is "the critical moment" in the alternate timeline[1] The Master defected to China after the (alternate) events of that story, the Mind parasites are the same creatures used in the Keller Machine, and the Master's alias of "Ke Le" is a Chinese version of his "Emil Keller" one.
  • The dying Master regenerating into the "Kisgart incarnation" was intended to be the one protrayed by Roger Delgado.[1]
  • This story has the first regeneration in audio.
  • This story marks the first appearance of the mind parasites from the television story The Mind of Evil in an audio drama.
  • The original idea was drastically different: "My first idea was to do something that capitalised on the world over-run with Silurians and dinosaurs, with no plastics available; a kind of post-holocaust situation. I had this idea for an opening sequence inspired by Aliens, with a UNIT squad decimated by shrieking raptors, and a group of medics dragging a mortally wounded Brigadier to safety while an officer screams: "Somebody get me a doctor!" And then you hear the TARDIS materialising, and the theme music kicks in." [1]
  • Ling being mistaken for a Hong Kong local, despite being from Slough, is loosely based on a real incident Clements saw. The real girls were from Colchester, but Clements thought Slough sounded funnier.[1]
  • This audio drama was recorded on 24 March 2003 at the Moat Studios.
  • Allusions are made to an alternate Invasion of the Dinosaurs, this time run by the Silurians. UNIT prevented it from ever happening by sending Mike Yates on a suicide mission with nuclear warheads to kill the Silurians before they ever woke up, but there's now a crater in the middle of London, where a lake has formed.
  • The Auton invasion in Terror of the Autons was stopped, but with UNIT disgraced. The Daily Mail ran a headline of "Barmy Brig in Fake Flower Fiasco."


External links[]