The Cradle of the Snake was the one hundred and thirty-eighth monthly Doctor Who audio story produced by Big Finish Productions. It was the third and final Big Finish audio story in the 2010 Fifth Doctor season. It continued a series of stories starring Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson, who were reunited as a TARDIS team for their first new Doctor Who stories since 1983. It was further notable for including the return of the Mara, a recurring enemy of the Fifth Doctor's era on television.
"The Mara is in all of us, deep in our minds. In our darkest thoughts, that’s where it started. Some people call it a demon, but that’s too simple. It’s about temptation."
Tegan's nightmares have returned. Seeking to banish the snake-like Mara from his companion's psyche, the Doctor sets course for Manussa, the creature's point of origin. But the TARDIS arrives instead in the heyday of the Manussan Empire, where infotainment impresario Rick ausGarten is preparing to turn dreams into reality.
The sun is setting on the Manussan Empire... and it's all the Doctor's fault.
Tegan has locked herself in her room, and the Doctor is worried. He tries to speak with her, but with no luck. Nyssa wants to try, so she sends the Doctor and Turlough away so she can talk to Tegan in private. They discuss the possibility of the Mara having come back into her. Tegan shows Nyssa the mark of the Mara on her arm, so Nyssa tells the Doctor.
The Doctor believes that the Mara has come back into Tegan, so he uses the Mind's Eye to delve into the depths of her mind with the intention of driving out the Mara. He gives Nyssa and Turlough orders not to wake him while he is sleeping. Just as the Doctor is at the climax of drawing the Mara from Tegan into himself, Nyssa wakes the Doctor, scared at the fitfulness of his sleep. He reprimands her and goes with her and Turlough for breakfast while Tegan gets some more sleep. He plans to go to Manussa, the once-great planet before the Mara took hold of it, to see if he really succeeded at driving the Mara from Tegan.
The four of them step out onto the planet, and discover that it is not the Manussa they remember: there are high-rise buildings and a more advanced society from the last time. Nyssa comments that they must be in the future, but the Doctor rebuffs this, noting that this is past, before the Mara took over. The Doctor asks which of them had touched the controls; they all deny it. He takes Tegan to a specialist to run some tests, leaving Nyssa and Turlough to wait for them in a park.
Meanwhile, an officer is set to come and inspect Sunset Studios, the broadcasting studio of one Rick AusGarten, a scientist who uses crystals to make dreams a reality. He tells his assistant Baarlaka - Barla, for short - to stop feeding the livestock and get on with cleaning the studio for them to pass inspection. He returns that it upsets the animals when their schedules are disturbed. AusGarten takes the officer - a woman by the name of - on a tour around the studio, to show her that everything is in order, for the demonstration later tonight. She nods and tells him that the people he uses for the demonstration will need thorough background and medical checks. He tells her that it is impossible; the people are chosen live.
He offers to let her try it out, let her mind fixate on an object, and the crystals will make the vision a reality - "think into existence" AusGarten calls it. As she images, the figure of a rose forms in the dream tank. "But that's not what I was imagining," she tells AusGarten. She then notices something in the petals, writhing, trying to get free. It's a tall, fair-haired man, she whispers.
Tegan gets settled in the chair and the specialist runs his tests, using crystals that Tegan notes are "like the Minds' Eye." He calls the Doctor back into the room - who had been sitting in a corner, muttering to himself - and tells them that Tegan's scans had come back clean. There was some scarring on the hypocampus, but that should be of no bother. The Doctor tells Tegan to wait outside, while he settles with the specialist. "You have money?" Tegan asks, bemused. "I'm sure we can come to some agreement," he says. Tegan leaves. The Doctor begins rooting around in the specialist's desk, all the while talking about having a recent affliction of his checked out. He then shows the specialist something on his arm: the mark of the Mara!
- The Doctor - Peter Davison
- Tegan Jovanka - Janet Fielding
- Nyssa - Sarah Sutton
- Turlough - Mark Strickson
- Rick ausGarten - Dan Stevens
- Dr. Hanri Kerrem - Hugh Fraser
- Yoanna Rayluss - Madeleine Potter
- Dadda Desaka - Vernon Dobtcheff
- Baalaka - Toby Sawyer
- Tegan's father owned a sheep farm with two thousand head of merino. He flew a Cessna Skyhawk. Flying the plane over the farm was one of Tegan's favourite memories.
- Turlough has never previously heard of the Mara.
- Nyssa says the goodness on Traken is more robust and less forced than on some other worlds.
- Manussa has roses, palm trees and tuk-tuks.
- This story takes place in the Manussan year 2215.
- This story marks the first appearance of the Mara in an audio story.
- This audio drama was recorded on 6 and 8 January 2010 at The Moat Studios.
- The Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan encountered the Mara on two previous occasions. (TV: Kinda, TV: Snakedance)
- The Doctor mentions that he plans to catch up with Dojjen at a later date. (TV: Snakedance)
- Official The Cradle of the Snake page at bigfinish.com
- DisContinuity for The Cradle of the Snake at Tetrapyriarbus - The DisContinuity Guide