It was also the first time the two actors had been back together playing these parts since 1993's Dimensions in Time. This story continues Ace's continuity developed in other mediums such as her surname where here, like in the Virgin New Adventures novel Set Piece, it is stated to be McShane.
One would-be assassin is in a mental ward. Another's on the run. Their intended victim is stirring up the mobs. Terrorists are planning a strike of their own. A talk-radio host is loving every minute of it. A Whitehall insider whispers about a mysterious UN operative, with a hidden agenda. Everyone's got someone they want to be afraid of. It'll only take a little push for the situation to erupt — and something is doing the pushing. But you can trust the Doctor to put things right. Can't you?
Stephen Keyser and Walter Jacobs attempt and fail to assassinate Sherilyn Harper, the head of the right-wing New Brittania political party; Keyser encounters something strange as he attempts to flee the scene. Days later, the Seventh Doctor and Ace already on the scene, investigating the situation, which has taken a turn for the weird. In so doing, the Doctor uses—abuses, really—the radio show of Mick Thompson, a talk show host and humourist. He’s trying to flush a monster into view, but Thompson is having none of it. Ace, meanwhile, is working with an old friend from Perivale, Paul Tanner, who is something of a hacker. He’s happy to see her, as she’s been missing for fifteen years, but not so thrilled at what he’s dragging her into.
With Paul’s help, Ace locates Walter, and through him, Keyser, who is now hospitalised. She and the Doctor attempt to enlist them to stop the monster, which they call the Fearmonger. It’s incorporeal, and parasitic, and it feeds on fear and related emotions; and it lives inside Harper. Walter, in fact, can hear it in the tones of Harper’s voice. However, his fear is too powerful, and is even directed toward the Doctor, about whom he has been warned; and Keyser is completely broken. Meanwhile, Harper has also been warned about the Doctor, via her PR consultant, Roderick Allingham. He is a former Ministry employee, and is familiar with the Doctor’s file, including his time with UNIT. He lays plans to bring the Doctor in, suspecting him of terrorist ties.
Walter attempts again to kill Harper, this time with a bomb at a rally, but the Doctor and Ace intervene and stop him.
They are forced to flee to avoid arrest, and return to Paul’s apartment, only to hear a broadcast message from Karadjic, the leader of a terrorist group called the United Front, announcing strikes against New Brittania. They discuss the Fearmonger, which is the real enemy here; and the Doctor builds a force field generator that can contain and destroy the monster without harming the host. They go to New Brittania headquarters to confront Harper, but are intercepted by Allingham, and allowed to escape. Back at Paul’s apartment, they discover the disembodied Fearmonger waiting for them; the Doctor tries to reason with it, but fails, and is forced to ground it out with a metal frying pan, temporarily delaying it. Using Walter, the Doctor arranges a meeting with the United Front, and attends with Ace; but Karadjic proves to be under the influence of the Fearmonger, and shoots Ace in the shoulder.
The Doctor persuades Karadjic to let them go, and gets Ace to a hospital. While there, he is confronted by the Fearmonger again, but it cannot harm him; his one fear—for Ace’s safety—has already happened.
Three weeks pass while Ace recovers, with the Doctor trying—mostly unsuccessfully—to slow down the United Front. At last he gets an opportunity to confront Harper again, during a live broadcast of Thompson’s show; but it does not go as planned, and Ace and Walter are revealed to be at the hospital. Worse, Ace hears something terrible: She hears the Fearmonger in the Doctor’s voice. The monster has jumped hosts. A mob is on its way to the hospital for Walter, and he and Ace are forced to flee.
They meet up with the Doctor and Thompson as the mob turns to a riot; the Doctor prods Thompson to attempt to take some control of the situation. Meanwhile, it’s revealed that Allingham himself has ties to the United Front, though he has been using the situation in New Brittania’s favour. He arrives onscene as Thompson interviews Karadjic, not realising that they are broadcasting live; and the entire house of cards tumbles down around Allingham. However, he has the decency to make it clear that Harper was unaware of the deal with the United Front. Karadjic and Allingham are arrested, and Walter is taken in for psychiatric treatment.
However, the Fearmonger is still at large. Ace sends Paul to obtain the bomb left behind by Walter, and places it near the range of the force field generator built by the Doctor. She then traps the Doctor in the field, and threatens to detonate the bomb if it doesn’t leave him, even though it would kill her as well. Slowly and gently, the Doctor persuades her to listen to his words, not his voice; and he makes her understand that the Fearmonger is not in him, nor in Harper, but in her—just as it was in Walter. This is why they are the ones who heard the voice—it was the Fearmonger working from inside, not outside. She turns the forcefield on herself, and the creature is destroyed.
- The Doctor - Sylvester McCoy
- Ace - Sophie Aldred
- Sherilyn Harper - Jacqueline Pearce
- Stephen Keyser - Mark Wright
- Walter Jacobs - Mark McDonnell
- Mick Thompson - Vince Henderson
- Paul Tanner - Jonathan Clarkson
- Roderick Allingham - Hugh Walters
- Alexsandr Karadjic - Jack Galagher
- Hospital Tannoy Voice - John Ainsworth
- Hospital Doctor / Heckler - Alistair Lock
- The Doctor muses at one point that he is so old he fears nothing now, apart from the fear of Ace's death — which nearly happens when she is shot by Alexsandr Karadjic of the United Front.
- Roderick Allingham, the New Britannia Party's media manager, worked for Department C19 for many years.
- Ethnic tensions are high: hate groups like Black Lightning and the White Wolves are committing terrorism and the New Britannia Party looked like it might win even before the United Front plot.
- The cover of The Fearmonger was the first to be designed by future Doctor Who Magazine editor and DVD cover designer Clayton Hickman. The "fist" motif was inspired by Tom Robinson's 1978 album Power in the Darkness.
- An illustrated preview for this story appeared in DWM 288 by Lee Sullivan.
- This is the first time that Ace's full name, Dorothy McShane, is mentioned in performed Doctor Who.
- This is the first Big Finish audio drama to take place entirely after the events of TV: Survival.
- This audio drama was recorded on 4 and 5 September 1999.
- In real life, the election was called for 2001 instead of 2002.
- Alistair Lock's soundtrack to the story was released on CD in Music from the New Audio Adventures - Volume 1, alongside the scores for Phantasmagoria, The Marian Conspiracy and The Spectre of Lanyon Moor.
- This story was originally released on CD and cassette. It is now available to download, as well as to stream on Spotify.
- Unusually for a Seventh Doctor story, this uses the Delia Derbyshire arrangement of the theme music rather than the Dominic Glynn arrangement used from 1987-89.
- It has been fifteen years since Ace left Perivale in 1987. (TV: Survival)
- Ace's full name is given as Dorothy McShane, the surname given to her in Kate Orman's PROSE: Set Piece.
- The Doctor again observes that at his age, "There's very little to be afraid of." (TV: The Five Doctors)
- Roderick Allingham is aware of Department C19. (PROSE: The Scales of Injustice, TV: Time-Flight, PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy)
- Ace recalls the "'No Coloured' signs in 1963" (TV: Remembrance of the Daleks) and "'Pakis Out' signs and petrol bombs" in her time. (TV: Ghost Light)
- Ace points out that the Doctor is constantly putting her in situations where she has to face her fears, but not on her own terms. (TV: Ghost Light, The Curse of Fenric)
- Official The Fearmonger page at bigfinish.com
- DisContinuity for The Fearmonger at Tetrapyriarbus - The DisContinuity Guide