This was author Craig Hinton's last Doctor Who novel.
"We've been colonising planets for a thousand million years," she said, turning to the camera and giving her trademark smile. "All right, Mr. Matheson — I'm ready for my close-up."
In the 101st century, nostalgia is everything. Television from the 20th century is the new obsession, and Reef Station One is receiving broadcasts from a distant Earth of the past, transmitting them to a waiting audience.
When the Doctor and Peri arrive on Reef Station One, they find a fractured society, totally dependent on film and television. They also discover that the Republic's greatest entrepreneur Walter J. Matheson is in league with one of the Doctor's oldest enemies.
As the alien influence spreads its tentacles throughout the Republic, the Doctor and Peri must unravel the link between Walter J. Matheson's business empire and the invaders. Because, if they don't, they'll end up in the deadliest soap opera of all time.
to be added
- Sixth Doctor
- Peri Brown
- Walter J. Matheson
- August DeValle
- Charles Bruderbakker
- Claudia Bruderbakker
- Dominique Delacroix
- Joan Bruderbakker
- Marcus Brooks
- Sean Brady
- The Doctor has met Francis Bacon, Sigmund Freud, Geoffrey Chaucer and Samuel Johnson.
- Peri has shopped in a 25th century Wal-Mart.
- The Doctor recognises the TARDISes attacking the Nestene Homeworld as Type 70 War TARDISes.
- Some of the planets of the New Earth Republic include New California, Tranicula, New Regency, Bel Terra, Paxas, New Aspen and New Alaska.
- Polymos is the Nestene Homeworld.
- The Reverent Pentiarchs of Loorn were a species that was completely conquered by the Nestene Consciousness.
- Television programmes restored and broadcast from Reef Station One include Dixon of Dock Green, The Sweeney, The Bill, Dallas, Dynasty, Baywatch, Professor X, Babylon 5, Crossroads, Falcon Crest, Z-Cars, The Forsyte Saga, The Six Million Dollar Man, EastEnders, The Tomorrow People and Juliet Bravo.
- Original programs broadcast from Reef Station One include Dreams of Tomorrow, Executive Desires, As the Worlds Turn, Dusty the Fearless Monster Killer, Space Journey: Traveller, Star Traveller: The Motion Picture, The Secret Files, Confessions of a Monoid, The Rep, ReefEnders, Liberation Street, and This Evening With Phil and Bev.
Foods and beverages
- Whilst in the cinema, the Doctor demands popcorn, chocolates, a hot dog, nachos and dips, and a super-size fizzy drink. He eats toast with strawberry jam for breakfast, with a pot of Earl Grey tea. He drinks Glen Garioch whiskey offered by Matheson.
- The Doctor and Peri eat waffles, maple syrup, eggs-over-easy and coffee in the TARDIS.
- Peri eats avocado with prawns on Reef Station One, and drinks espresso crème brulee served with a single fig.
- An illustrated preview for this story appeared in DWM 345.
- The cover for this novel went through several modifications of its design.
- The first cover was created by James Gent for Craig Hinton as a proof of concept, intended to be "like Spearhead from Space crossed with Dynasty".
- Unfortunately, Black Sheep (the cover designers for BBC Books' range of PDAs) interpreted him literally, using copyrighted images of the cast of Dynasty but as Autons. This was technically illegal, necessitating the entire batch to be pulped.
- The third cover was approved for publishing, but featured mirroring on both the background and the two female Autons, prompting Black Sheep to make several modifications to it before publication.
- Peri and the Doctor have faced Cybermen, (TV: Attack of the Cybermen) giant slugs, (TV: The Twin Dilemma) Valethske, (PROSE: Superior Beings) Sil, (TV: Vengeance on Varos) Sharaz Jek, (TV: The Caves of Androzani) and Tablibik. (PROSE: Fascination)
- The Chen Dynasty has fallen since the founding of the New Earth Republic. (PROSE: The Crystal Bucephalus, TV: The Daleks' Master Plan)
- The group who were once the Cybermen are pacifist, and no longer call themselves "Cybermen". (PROSE: The Crystal Bucephalus, The Quantum Archangel)
- The Doctor tells Peri about Shub-Niggurath. (PROSE: Millennial Rites)
- Peri mentions that she's commanded armies and once was once a warlord. (PROSE: Warmonger)
- Peri's scar from her recent experience on Dorsill is healed. (PROSE: Grave Matter)
- The Doctor recalls a history of Earth in relation to extraterrestrial forces:
- In the 20th century, humanity hadn't heard of the Daleks, Cybermen, or Sontarans. Humans managed to miss the ancient civilisation of the Martians, despite many probes and landings. (TV: The Ice Warriors, et al.) They also hadn’t looked under the surface of their own world and discovered the Earth Reptiles in hibernation. (TV: Doctor Who and the Silurians)
- Aliens have encountered humanity throughout time, from beings such as the Eternals, who saw them as playthings, (TV: Enlightenment) to the Dæmons, who saw them as laboratory experiments. (TV: The Dæmons)
- The earliest alien incursion on Earth was possibly the Jagaroth, (TV: City of Death) but that was arguable: in 5720, in the aftermath of World War VI, (PROSE: Emotional Chemistry) deep-core archaeologists had discovered the crushed and near-fossilised remains of a Khorlthochloi starship. (PROSE: Superior Beings)
- Civil engineers excavating for a new runway at Heathrow Airport had quite a surprise when they discovered three-hundred-year-old metallic artefacts that defied analysis (TV: The Visitation) – and that was before they discovered Concorde Golf Victor Foxtrot. (TV: Time-Flight)