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The Chimes of Midnight was the twenty-ninth story in Big Finish's monthly range. It was written by Robert Shearman and featured Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor and India Fisher as Charlotte Pollard.

It was the second in a series of 6 audio stories featuring the Eighth Doctor.

Publisher's summary[edit | edit source]

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house not a creature was stirring...

But something must be stirring. Something hidden in the shadows. Something which kills the servants of an old Edwardian mansion in the most brutal and macabre manner possible. Exactly on the chiming of the hour, every hour, as the grandfather clock ticks on towards midnight.

Trapped and afraid, the Doctor and Charley are forced to play detective to murders with no motive, where the victims don't stay dead. Time is running out.

And time itself might well be the killer...

Plot[edit | edit source]


Part one[edit | edit source]

The Doctor and Charley land somewhere that the TARDIS cannot even identify and they decide to explore (the Doctor is trying to get her to Singapore). The home resembles Charlie's old home and they discover that their interactions with the house undo themselves after a while. Charlie accidentally knocked over a jar of jam and when the Doctor returns to the TARDIS to get some tools and exits, he notices that the jar is back on the table, having reset itself and the stain on Charlie's dress has disappeared, among other strange happenings in the house including Charlie writing her name in the dust, only for it to immediately disappear.

Meanwhile, a scullery maid named Edith is ordered around the house to do menial chores and is treated poorly by all the household, including her master Mr Shaughnessy and kitchen maid Mrs Baddeley.

The Doctor and Charlie discover they've arrived on Christmas but the house is abandoned. Charlie hears a faint voice singing Heark the Herald Angels Sing while Edith hears Charlie's faint voice alerting the Doctor to a freshly prepared turkey. The two continue to explore only to discover that it's very difficult to make impressions on the surrounding environment. They manage to find a way to interact with it, but to the Doctor's disturbance, the house's environment begins to taunt them. Frederick finds and calls off his relationship with Mary after being forced to by Mrs Baddeley but Mary has other plans. Charlie, who seems to be able to hear Edith, is prompted by the Doctor to find the source of the voice when she suddenly stumbles onto Edith taking a bath. They converse and find themselves getting along well when suddenly Charlie hears another Edith say that she (Edith) is going to die soon. Charlie, frightened, calls out for the Doctor and finds she can talk to him and he reveals they need to return to the TARDIS. She comments he's scared which he acknowledges, claiming some mysteries are best left alone, however, they hear a scream, a clock chime and the Doctor realises they are now trapped...

Part two[edit | edit source]

They find Edith drowning and while the Doctor tries to save her, she dies. The household come to investigate the commotion and think she died by accidental suicide but the Doctor suspects otherwise, as he suspects it was murder. They then reveal they were expecting the Doctor, claiming he's Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard, to arrive and investigate. Mr Shaughnessy tells the Doctor he has access to anywhere he likes and can question whomever he wants and tells the household staff they are to answer every one of his questions except those concerning the going-ons of the house. The Doctor tells Charley he has an unnerving feeling but they ought to play along, saying he suspects the murder and the time anomaly are linked when Charley asks which task they should be focusing on. He and Charlie split up, and he interviews Shaughnessy while Charlie interviews Mrs. Baddeley. Baddeley refuses to help Charlie since she won't taste her plum pudding while the Doctor learns about the residents of the house from him and Shaughnessy says he suspects Mrs Baddeley.

Charlie relents and tries some pudding but ends up behaving strangely and catching herself, excuses herself after asking Baddeley who she suspects and Baddeley reveals she suspects Shaughnessy because he has "shifty eyes" (the same reason given by Shaughnessy to the Doctor). The Doctor interviews Frederick, the chauffeur, and Charley interviews Mary, both claiming their accused of also having "shifty eyes". Suddenly Charley hears Edith again who reveals she needs to find out who murdered her, to not forget her, that another murder will occur and finally Edward Grove is alive. Charley yells for the Doctor who finds her but they discover that Mrs. Baddeley has been the next victim, and has been stuffed with her own pudding. The household believe it another suicide and the Doctor asks them to leave so he can consult with Charley. He reveals that he suspects they are playing a game and they know a few things, that the murders occur on the hour and something strange occurs each time, such as Mrs Baddeley being stuffed with her own pudding. Charley realises that the murders are occurring too quickly to be an hour apart and an impressed Doctor reasons that the killer must be speeding up time and they set off to find a clock. Frederick and Mary meet and their warped perception of the events begins to take hold as they forget about Edith and reaffirm their devotion to each other.

The Doctor and Charley find Shaughnessy and ask for his pocket watch but he refuses. They decide that they will go upstairs to find the grandfather clock that keeps striking but Shaughnessy holds them at gunpoint. The Doctor then tricks Shaughnessy to give up his pocket watch and they end up not going upstairs. The Doctor explains to Charley that the entity sees them as a threat but cannot work out how to respond to them which is why he was able to convince Shaughnessy. They find the watch behaving strangely and call the house members together to see what will happen and who may be murdered only to find that they cannot remember Edith. They split up again despite the Doctor's warnings, claiming there is household work to return to and the grandfather clock strikes midnight...

Part three[edit | edit source]

The Doctor and Charley are returned to the scullery and find that things have reverted back, then find Edith dead, having been suffocated to death by a plunger. The household members find them, with Mrs. Baddeley still alive and the events of before have repeated themselves, seeming as if the two have gone back in time. This time the Doctor and Charley find a third scribble in the dust, with the name Edward Grove, and attempt to deduce what is happening. The two split up again to investigate. The Doctor questions Frederick and asks him to take him for a drive but Frederick refuses, then attempts to open the door to go outside the house but the two reveal that their master has instructed them to kill him if he attempts to leave. The Doctor decides to play along further and Frederick and Mary say they suspect that they killed Edith. Charley, in the meantime, questions Mrs Baddeley and discovers some of her more distrubing traits. The Doctor learns that Frederick and Mary were to kill Mrs. Baddeley but don't remember who Edith is. Mrs. Baddeley disturbs Charley, saying she had already died. A confused Charley is then contacted mentally by Edith who says she is forgetting her and mentions Edward Grove and finally doesn't understand why she had to die but Charley can live. Just then another death occurs, this time Frederick's. However, Mary is thought to be the scullery maid despite Charley trying to remind them of Edith and they all resume their work. The Doctor and Charley attempt to understand what they've misunderstood and Charley storms out when the Doctor tries to explain to her she's misremembering things. Charley goes to find Edith's dust signature but it has disappeared and Edith appears to Charley, saying she is forgetting her and they need to find Edward Grove.

The Doctor attempts to go to the forbidden upstairs and is stopped by Shaughnessy holding him at gunpoint, revealing that Shaughnessy was manipulated by the outside force as he himself reveals he doesn't feel in control. The Doctor then has Shaughnessy confirm his suspicions, that the name Edward Grove is actually the name of the house. The Doctor explains that it's the house doing the murders. The household are called to action to kill the Doctor and in the process, they call forth Charley who has also come under the control of the house. However, as the clock strikes twelve time is reversed and the Doctor reveals that it seems even the entity itself doesn't have complete control. They arrive back in the scullery where Edith has been clubbed to death this time and the household, forgetting the finer details, go back to their duties. The Doctor explains to Charley that the house is performing this and that it's slowly trying to make her and the Doctor part of its narrative. He reveals that all the traumatic memories that may have happened may have been absorbed by the house, causing its sentience.

The Doctor tells Charley they are to return to the TARDIS as they're in a trap and while the household tries to stop them, they manage to leave. Inside the TARDIS the Doctor reveals that if they'd brought any bit of paradox with them they'd be trapped. Just then Charley hears the grandfather clock striking again, the console disappears and the house begins to reform around them and the Doctor realises that they haven't escaped the house but instead brought it with them....

Part four[edit | edit source]

The Doctor explains that they're still in the TARDIS but they're stuck in a time loop. He then explains that the problem is them as they are the paradox and are trapped. The household finds them and reveals their master is coming to meet him and they transport Charley elsewhere despite the Doctor's protests. The Doctor meets Edward Grove who has taken over the body of Shaughnessy to serve as a communication vessel. Charley, meanwhile, finds Edith again and she asks Edith to show herself. Edith does and Charley, shocked, realises Edith was the cook in her family's old estate, having not recognised her earlier because when Edith worked as a scullery maid she looked different, younger, as it was her first job. She mysteriously explains that she died for Charley. The Doctor and Edward Grove chat and the Doctor condemns Edward's horrific treatment of the household. He further questions the point of Grove's existence but Grove reveals it is enough for him to simply exist, even if it means keeping the others enslaved and the paradox going. Edith explains to the Charley the horrible treatment she's had to endure her whole life and how Charley was always so kind to her, and explains that Grove has filled aspects of her life into the household. When Charley asks why there's so much death, Edith simply says she died for Charley even though she came back to life. The Doctor and Grove talk more and Grove reveals that the Doctor and Charley are what are giving him life, having arrived and created a paradox. Edith explains to Charley that when the news of her death in the R101 crash reached home, Edith was ignored by all as the mood of the house was depressed over Charley's death and yet she, Edith, was not allowed to mourn Charley, her best friend. Not wanting to live without Charley, she commits suicide in the kitchen on the night of Christmas eve. The Doctor tries to convince Grove to commit suicide, saying that he is not really alive but Grove declares that having tasted existence, he will keep the paradox going for a single moment, destroying everyone inside the loop to keep himself alive. The Doctor tries to stop him, volunteering to sacrifice himself and takes advantage of the household's commitment to serve him under Grove's earlier orders, first telling them to kill him, Grove trying his best to stop him. Edith tries to convince Charley to commit suicide since Charley was supposed to have died in the R101 in 1931 but is still alive here in 1906. Charley must make a choice: her life or Edith's.

The Doctor, however, managing to overcome Grove, reaches out to Charley and convinces her to live, and the two them convince Edith to live, ending the paradox. Everything returns to normal and as a final check, the Doctor lands the TARDIS in the moment they arrived before the paradox occurred, and when they find Edith, they disguise themselves, tell Shaughnessy that Edith has done a fine work as a scullery maid, Charley tells Edith that she's not nobody but a good person, and they leave, having resolved and broken the paradox.

Cast[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Real World[edit | edit source]

Books[edit | edit source]

Objects[edit | edit source]

Time travel[edit | edit source]

  • The Doctor and Charley experience several time loops.
  • The Doctor mentions travelling for centuries.

Individuals[edit | edit source]

  • Plum pudding has always been Charley's favourite. The Doctor also seems fond of it.

Food and drink[edit | edit source]

Songs[edit | edit source]

Vehicles[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

Art by Martin Geraghty featured in DWM 314

  • The Chimes of Midnight was the first time that a companion created specifically for the audio range had featured on the cover.
  • In 2016, this story was re-released on vinyl in a limited run of 500 copies. Tom Webster designed a new cover, and a new behind-the-scenes documentary was recorded.
  • The cook, Mrs Baddeley, is named after actress Angela Baddeley, who played Mrs Bridges in the ITV television series Upstairs, Downstairs which is also set in a large Edwardian house. Shaughnessy is named after the show's script editor, Alfred Shaughnessy.
  • This audio drama was recorded on 17 and 18 January 2001.
  • After AUDIO: Invaders from Mars, this is the second consecutive story in which the Doctor impersonates a detective.
  • This audio was streamed as part of the “lockdown” event.
  • There is an in-joke in the story when the Doctor mentions to Charley that it wouldn't be fair if the murderer is someone with whom they hadn't met yet, as was sometimes the case in the classic series.
  • Each cliffhanger was based on Shearman's favourite cliffhangers from the series [1]

Cover gallery[edit | edit source]

Continuity[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

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