The Auntie Matter was the first story in the second series of The Fourth Doctor Adventures, produced by Big Finish Productions. It was written by Jonathan Morris and featured Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor and Mary Tamm as Romana I.
It was the first full-cast audio story to feature Tamm reprising her role as Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor companion Romana. For much of this story's narrative the Doctor and Romana have separate, though linked narratives each interacting with the characters in the story but just missing one another during the action.
Whilst K9 is off in the TARDIS leading the Black Guardian on a wild goose chase, the Doctor and Romana are enjoying a leisurely lifestyle as the Lord and Lady of a London townhouse. But trouble never stays away from them for long, and before they know it a chance discovery of alien technology leads them deep into the heart of the English countryside where a malign presence lurks.
As the Doctor dodges deadly butlers and ferocious gamekeepers, Romana is faced with a malevolent Aunt and an even deadlier peril — marriage.
Reginald "Reggie" Bassett drives his fiance Florence Wickham to his aunt Lady Florence Bassett's mansion at Bassett hall where they are introduced. However, Florence has been hoodwinked and is zapped by a machine that has Lady Florence Bassett transferred into her body. Elsewhere, Mr. Meadows orders Mabel Dobbs to prepare the lord and lady's kippers, and when she questions him about them he evades answering.
The Doctor explains to Romana that the TARDIS is gone, currently leading the Black Guardian on a wild chase through time and space, with K-9 inside helping. The two remain on earth in the meantime in the 1920s. Mabel interrupts them, saying she has prepared the Doctor's kippers, but the Doctor decides he's not hungry. Lady Florence Basset, after memory-wiping Reginald, tasks him with finding himself a wife in London. The Doctor meanwhile tells Romana to go keep herself busy while he works on repairing a mysterious machine and she decides to go out into the city to find some mathematical and scientific books to read. She comes across a bookstore asking for such literature where she meets Reginald, who also claims to be interested in the same subjects, and asks her to join him for lunch so they can discuss more. The Doctor gets his machine working and discovers there is alien technology operating on Earth in the roaring twenties. He decides to go investigate and takes Mabel with him. Grenville drops in while Romana goes off to tell the Doctor by phone that she's heading with Reginald back to his country estate (however she isn't able to reach him) and he advises Reginald on the next steps. The Doctor and Mabel head towards the source of the alien signal, Bassett hall, when they are passed by Romana, Reginald and Grenville also in car, unbeknownst to each other that they are headed to the same destination. The Doctor and Mabel are found and threatened by Gamekeeper Diggery in the field who is alerted to help Grenville track down Romana, who had escaped after Reginald and Grenville revealed their plans to have Reginald marry Romana and Reginald startlingly discovered Grenville is actually an android. The Doctor and Mabel evade Diggery and discover a spaceship while investigating further but become trapped in it while Romana is brought before Reginald's aunt Florence who attempts to take her body using her machine...
The body-taking process is interrupted as the Doctor and Mabel managed to cut the power supply from the spaceship and Lady Florence begins to destabilize. She orders Diggery to track them down and kill them, which he almost does but the Doctor and Mabel manage to get away. Meanwhile, Grenville pursues Romana and Reginald. While on the run, Romana turns Reginald's marriage proposal down, explaining she is uninterested and that they're not compatible either. Reginald is distraught but before he can contemplate and regain his senses, Romana quickly explains her plan and they put it into action. The Doctor is cornered by Diggery but disables him using his sonic screwdriver by unscrewing the screws in his frame causing him to fall apart. Mabel, in the thick of the action, ends up in a rosebush but is found by Reginald. He explains his utter confusion at the situation but is slightly comforted by Mabel. The Doctor is cornered next by Grenville but escapes.
Lady Florence, close to death, contacts Grenville and instructs him to go after Romana rather than the Doctor so she can secure a body before she perishes. Romana is cornered by Grenville who takes her to see Lady Florence. Mabel and Reginald watch the stars when they are found by the Doctor and he explains to the Doctor about the strangeness of his aunt and everything going on. The Doctor tells Mabel to go back to the village and tells Reginald they have to find his aunt. Mabel kisses Reginald goodbye and runs off but instead ends up saving Romana while Reginald and the Doctor are off to Bassett hall to confront Reginald's aunt.
The Doctor and Reginald arrive in the hall and after Reginald explains his past succession of upbringing under different aunts the Doctor realises it's the same aunt in different bodies and realises the control lodged in Reginald's lobe that his "aunt" has been using to successively wipe his memory thus tricking him into "securing" a new "bride", which for her meant a new body each time. Romana and Mabel find a deactivated android and attempt to reprogram it but are cornered by Grenville while inside the ship who threatens to kill Mabel and he is instructed by Lady Florence to reactivate the power. Lady Florence is found by the Doctor and Reginald but is at their mercy for the moment. She explains how she came to be, how Reginald plays into the situation and with Grenville having successfully activated the power, she rejuvenates and attempts to kill the Doctor. Romana, in the meantime, reveals she had reprogrammed one of the devices to effect Grenville rather than organic matter, destroying Grenville.
Reginald, watching his "aunt" attempt to destroy the Doctor cannot bear it. Romana, meanwhile, finds Grenville's neutron cell and sets it to explode so that it can destroy the ship and Ligeia's (aunt Florence's) power supply. The Doctor warns her, having programmed the ship to detonate before-hand, but she ignores his advice. The ship explodes and the power supply is destroyed, causing Ligeia to crumble away, defeated. The Doctor bids Reginald goodbye and advises him to settle down with a girl then heads back into town to find Romana, unaware of her role in the events that had unfolded. Reginald finds Mabel and Romana, explaining what happened (but forgetting to mention the Doctor) and Romana bids them farewell. Reginald, before Mabel can set off with Romana, declares his love for her and the two walk away to plan their wedding as Reginald is the new lord of Bassett hall.
The Doctor returns to his and Romana's mansion when Romana arrives. They both explain to each other about their strange day of having stopped an alien menace, only to realise that they had both fought the same menace, unaware of the other's involvement and get into an argument over who really saved the day and stopped the alien menace. A bemused Romana offers to get the butler to make them some tea, claiming they both have "a spot of explaining to do".
- The Doctor - Tom Baker
- Romana - Mary Tamm
- Florence Wickham / Lady Florence Bassett - Julia McKenzie
- Reginald "Reggie" Bassett - Robert Portal
- Mabel Dobbs - Lucy Griffiths
- Grenville / Diggery - Alan Cox
- Lady Ligeia Bassett - Jane Slavin
- The Doctor refers to George and Ira Gershwin, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and flappers.
- Reggie refers to the Martian invasion from The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, asking if the invaders are "lads from Woking".
- Reginald claims to have the latest papers on the quantum theory by Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg.
- Bassett Hall was built in the late 18th century.
- Romana considers Earth to be "harmless, if a bit primitive" as humans have only recently developed the theory of relativity.
- The butler Grenville and the gameskeeper Diggery are identical androids.
- Lady Florence is a Valjax.
- The Doctor detects the alien technology and its disturbance using an etheric field disturbance detector.
- Romana asks for the latest literature on set theory, quantum theory, and the photoelectric effect among other things.
- The Doctor mentions the Second law of thermodynamics and that Leigia is trying to work against it, something that is impossible to do.
- Grenville quotes the Shakespearean soliloquy "If it were done when 'tis done then 'twere done..." from Macbeth.
- One of Lady Florence's lines is "Leave the man. It's the girl I want." This is a in-joke as the First Rani stated "Leave the girl. It's the man I want," referring to the Seventh Doctor and Melanie Bush, in TV: Time and the Rani.
- This story is unusual in that it does not feature the TARDIS.
- This audio drama was recorded on 18 July 2011 at Audio Sorcery and The Moat Studios.
- The structure and form of the story parodies the work of P. G. Wodehouse, especially the Jeeves and Wooster series. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster is "mentally negligible," has a number of aunts, and many of the stories revolve around proposals of marriage. Lady Florence Craye and Madeline Bassett are regular characters, and several stories are set in Bassett Hall. Grenville is very similar to Wooster's manservant Jeeves, and in one story it is revealed that Jeeves' Christian Name is "Reginald."
- The name "Lady Ligeia Bassett" is a reference to the Edgar Allen Poe story Ligeia. In the story, Ligeia is the name of the protagonist's long lost love who eventually comes back from the dead to possess the body of the protagonist's new wife.
- On the extras for this story is a short tribute by Big Finish and the cast to Mary Tamm who died 6 months before this story was released.
- This story takes place between The Armageddon Factor and Destiny of the Daleks.
- The Doctor tells Mabel to not scream, don't trip and ask questions when he asks her to come with him. This is an in-joke as this was often seen as the functional role of the companion in the classic series.
- In an attempt to evade the Black Guardian, the Doctor has activated the TARDIS' randomiser and programmed it to travel to approximately 1,000 planets, which could take up to a month. He left K9 aboard the TARDIS. (TV: The Armageddon Factor)
- Reggie asks Romana if her name is short for something. (TV: The Ribos Operation)
- The Doctor and Romana previously encountered androids on Tara. (TV: The Androids of Tara)
- In an earlier audio drama, the Doctor and Romana are described as being on holiday for several weeks in Anitebes, France, in 1929. This could plausibly take place during the period in which the Doctor and Romana are waiting for the TARDIS to return from distracting the Black Guardian. (AUDIO: The Stealers from Saiph)
- The process that keeps Lady Florence alive, as well as some of the Doctor's dialogue is similar to Magnus Greel's process in TV: The Talons of Weng-Chiang.
- K9 would later lead the Black Guardian on another wild goose chase across the universe. (AUDIO: Wave of Destruction)
- Romana makes mention of several scientific theories such as quantum theory, (TV: The Ark in Space, AUDIO: Ghostwalk et al)