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The Doctor's Tale was the second story of the first series of The Early Adventures, produced by Big Finish Productions. It was written by Marc Platt, narrated by William Russell and Maureen O'Brien and featured the First Doctor, Ian Chesterton, Barbara Wright and Vicki Pallister.

The Doctor and his TARDIS were the only science fiction elements that appeared in the story, making it a pure historical. The title was a play on those of the individual tales within The Canterbury Tales, whose author, Geoffrey Chaucer, featured prominently. In this adventure, to be treated as a nobleman, Ian used his title "Sir Ian of Jaffa" bestowed on him in the television story The Crusade.

Publisher's summary[]

England, 1400. Winter. Blood in the snow. Henry IV has usurped the throne, and deposed King Richard II languishes in Pomfret Castle.

Meanwhile the Doctor and his companions preside over New Year revels at Sonning Palace.

But Sonning is a prison, treachery is in the air and murderous Archbishop Thomas Arundel will stop at nothing to crush the rebellion.

As the Doctor and Barbara take the road to Canterbury, Vicki finds a royal friend and Ian is dragged into a dark web of conspiracy at whose heart sits that teller of tales, Geoffrey Chaucer.


The Lord of Misrule (1)[]

The First Doctor, Vicki Pallister, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright visit Sonning Palace. They learn from the bishop that Henry IV has recently deposed Richard II, so Barbara correctly identifies the date as 1400.

Vicki meets Isabella, Richard's queen, and the Doctor is appointed to be her tutor. Sir Robert de Wensley expresses empathy with Isabella's plight, being cut off from her husband who is imprisoned in Pomfret Castle.

The travellers attend an Epiphany feast, with the Doctor presiding as Lord of Misrule. However, their revelries are interrupted by Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury who — after being affronted by Barbara and the Doctor — declares them to be Lollard heretics. He tells them they must recant or be sent to God.

The White Hart (2)[]

Robert negotiates for the release of the Doctor and his companions. Barbara and the Doctor go to Canterbury, desiring to discover the fate of Geoffrey Chaucer. Ian and Robert, after learning that King Henry has been attacked at his tournament at Oxford, travel in their wake, hoping to warn them that troubles will soon consume London. They stop at the Black Oak, which is more a stable than an inn.

Vicki stays with Isabella and they meet Jud Hacker and acquire his services as a cart driver. A train of men goes part and Isabella and Vicki hide in the cart. They see a cartload of dead men — supporters of Richard II killed in Oxford. Arundel is with the party and, catching glimpse of a face in Hacker's cart, orders him to uncover it.

Sanctuary (3)[]

Vicki hides Isabella and pretends to be Hacker's daughter. Isabella pays him to take her to Oxford. When they arrive, Hacker asks for more payment, but Isabella steals his cart and rides off with Vicki for Pomfret Castle.

Meanwhile, Ian is invited to an abbey by Robert, into the company of a conspiratorial group, mostly composed of clergy. Among their number is Geoffrey Chaucer. They plan to depose King Henry. In Oxford, Isabella is found by the King, who tells her she is free from her confinement in Sonning Palace now that Richard's forces have been defeated.

Arundel interrupts Chaucer's meeting. After he leaves, they learn that there has been a murder outside — the gatekeeper — and Chaucer's home has been raided and his work is being burned. Robert pulls his sword on Ian and Chaucer and, revealing he has aligned himself with Arundel, has them taken prisoner.

Isabella learns from Henry that Richard is dead, but refuses to believe it. Chaucer tells Ian he gave the original manuscript of The Canterbury Tales to the Doctor and Barbara for safe keeping. They are shown the body of Richard and, when none of the conspirators agree to recognise Henry, are sentenced to death by Arundel. They are killed one by one.

When only Ian and Chaucer are left, Henry arrives and order proceedings to be halted while Isabella grieves over Richard's body. In a prison cell, Ian and Chaucer find the Doctor. He tells them that Barbara is safe and that Arundel cannot be defeated — he is a part of history.

The Empty Crown (4)[]

Henry berates Arundel for his actions, but he shows no remorse. Vicki comforts Isabella. Tom Chaucer, Geoffrey's son, manages to contact his father. The Doctor asks him to find out how Vicki is faring. In their conversation, Robert expresses to Arundel a desire to find Barbara, which the Archbishop takes to be his desired prize.

Vicki and Isabella discuss Richard, and the former queen says he had been dead along a while to her, having been separated for so long. Henry banishes Vicki and, as she exits, she meets Tom from whom she gets the idea to have the Doctor and his fellow prisoners pardoned.

The Doctor picks the lock of his cell and find Robert as they escape. After he makes a comment about Barbara, he and Ian fight. While Robert has his sword caught, the Doctor knocks him out with a chamber pot. Isabella rejects Henry's proposition that she marry Prince Hal. Vicki and Tom tell the King that Chaucer is not dead, as Arundel claims, that the Doctor and Ian are also being held, despite being innocent.

Ian gets into a fight in the street. As the guard moves to strike him, Isabella shoots him with an arrow. The Doctor's party escape and Henry sends Robert after them, to collect Chaucer. They travel by boat and pass London Bridge.

They go to the Tabard Inn to find Barbara and learn that she is performing recitations of The Canterbury Tales. Ian sees Robert with her, holding her hand. Robert stands before the crowd and declares Chaucer to be a traitor and asks them to put his head on the bridge. Instead, they cheer for him who brought the tales Barbara read. They lift the Doctor onto their shoulders and parade him. Robert pulls a knife, but Isabella aims an arrow at him. He flees.

Ian follows and confronts him. Robert says Barbara will never be Ian's, but as he does, he slips on the ice and falls into the Thames beneath London Bridge where the current drowns him. The Doctor tells Chaucer his tales have been sent to Wales where they will be copied. He stands up and tells the crowd he is Chaucer.

Arundel arrives and is isolated. They confuse him with multiple voices until he is frightened. They taunt him and he cries that he will banish them all. He runs away in panic. Chaucer is going to Wales. Isabella will return to Sonning Palace where the Doctor tells her she will be safe with the bishop before returning to France. She asks Vicki to stay, but she says she cannot leave the Doctor.

The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki walk back to the TARDIS. Barbara put her arm through Ian's and asks what became of Robert. He tells her that he ran away. The party find themselves back at the ship.



The Doctor[]

  • The Doctor has a cold.



  • Isabella is being held prisoner in Sonning Palace.
  • Isabella was born in France.
  • Arundel threatens to place Queen Isabella in the Tower of London.
  • Chaucer's tomb was placed in Westminster Abbey long after his death. Ian visited it prior to meeting the Doctor.
  • The Black Oak is "a roof with ale and pies".
  • Chaucer intends to flee to the Low Countries if the plot to assassinate Henry IV fails.
  • After Arundel's defeat, Chaucer goes into hiding in Wales under an assumed name.
  • Ian and Barbara first became friends while protesting against nuclear weapons on the Aldermaston marches.
  • Barbara performs recitals of The Canterbury Tales in Tabard Inn.
  • Isabella hunted in Fontainebleau.



Textless cover art

  • This story was recorded on 21 and 22 February 2013 at the Moat Studios.
  • Barbara does not appear in the third episode. This evokes the fact that during the William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton eras, the Doctor or a companion would be written out of an episode in a serial to account for holiday time, creating an authentic feel for a story from that era.
  • Maureen O'Brien watched The Space Museum in the days before the recording to help her better capture Barbara Wright's voice.


External links[]