The Feast of Axos was the one hundred and forty-fourth story in Big Finish's monthly range. It was written by Mike Maddox and featured Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor, Maggie Stables as Evelyn Smythe and John Pickard as Thomas Brewster.
Released in February 2011, it was the second in a series of three Sixth Doctor audio stories from Big Finish during that year. This was the first appearance of Axos in performed Doctor Who since their introduction in the 1971 story The Claws of Axos. Notably, Axos was played by Bernard Holley, who previously provided its voice in the 1971 story.
"Axos calling Earth. Fuel system exhausted. Request immediate assistance."
Many years ago, the vast space parasite Axos attempted to suck the planet Earth of its energy. Now it's all but forgotten — a dried-up husk, marooned in orbit, still stuck in the time loop it was placed in by Earth's defender, the Doctor.
Forgotten, that is, except by space tourism billionaire Campbell Irons — who's hatched a plan to solve the world's energy crisis by reviving Axos, and transmitting its power back to Earth. But the crew of the spaceship Windermere aren't alone aboard the parasite. The Doctor has returned, to correct an error of decades past...
And Axos is waiting.
Thomas Brewster has snuck aboard the TARDIS and demands the Doctor take him back to his time, having grown dissonant with the 21st century. Meanwhile the spaceship Windermere with its crew-members Joanna Slade, David Brock, Craig Swanson and others enters Earth's orbit on its historic flight towards Axos which has been stuck in a time loop for the last 50 years on a mission for billionaire Campbell Irons. Irons wants to use Axos to supply unlimited energy to the world to solve the energy crisis and make money. After hitting a rough patch and making their way through the time distortion, they prepare to enter Axos, just as the Doctor, Evelyn and Thomas Brewster arrive in the TARDIS, as the Doctor was on his way to bring Brewster to DI Menzies to be locked up but they were drawn off course by the same time distortion that effected the crew of the Windermere. The three decide to go out and investigate and the Doctor sends Evelyn to get spacesuits for them while he comes to an agreement with Thomas regarding Brewster's future. Once settled, Brewster helps Evelyn in the wardrobe and makes amends with her and apologises for kidnapping her to another planet. They go out to investigate.
The crew of the Windermere make contact with Axos and exit the ship, and prepare to enter by drilling inside. The three make their way to the central chamber of Axos and the Doctor explains that they're looking for the source of what made Axos "cry out", the thing that effected the TARDIS earlier. Just then, they realise drilling going on outside and are attacked by Axos, and the Doctor leaves Evelyn and Thomas to go find and stop the drilling. He stumbles through a membrane and accidentally awakens Axos, which attempts to read his mind. Axos recognises the Doctor from their last encounter and attempts to kill him...
Axos makes the Doctor sleep and takes a body print of him, creating an axon duplicate of the Doctor. The Windermere crew manage to drill through Axos, causing it damage and pain and it prepares to react. Brewster, with no sign of the Doctor, decides to head back to the TARDIS against Evelyn's wishes, but she follows him anyway. They hear the drilling making its way inside. Evelyn meets Joanna and Craig but before she can introduce Thomas Brewster they discover he has disappeared. The two are sceptical of Evelyn but are intrigued once she mentions she arrived with the Doctor and she convinces them to help her get out of Axos' tendrils so she can explain to them what happened. Meanwhile, Brewster finds the Axonite Doctor who offers him a proposition which piques his interest.
Evelyn, Joanna and Craig eventually locate the TARDIS, which Joanna and Craig, awestruck, immediately recognise from having read the UNIT files and realise they can trust Evelyn as she is telling the truth. Just as Joanna attempts to remove Axos' tendrils which are engulfing the TARDIS, she is warned by the Doctor, who appears on the scene, and explains that Axos has absorbed and replicated his brain, putting them all in immediate danger. They get acquainted and explain to the Doctor they're here on a private mission to Axos for corporate interests, much to the Doctor's annoyance. The Axonite Doctor takes Thomas to the eye of Axos (Axos central control) and he strikes up a deal with Axos, if he helps them, they promise to use Axonite to copy the TARDIS once they safely secure it and give him the copy.
Joanna contacts Axos to negotiate a deal with them and reveals that Campbell Ironside will do the negotiating. Axos agrees but will be negotiating through Brewster, and they begin, but Evelyn notices Craig Swanson sneak off and with the Doctor's agreement, follows him. Campbell explains he wants to use Axos' energy to end the energy crisis on earth and that he will detonate the nuclear reactor drive in the Windermere aimed at Axos and since it is stuck in a time loop, the blast will occur over and over, causing it unending pain, with Campbell explaining that the Windermere crew is expendable and he is fine sacrificing them to get what he wants. He continues, saying that in exchange for Axos' energy, he will permit it to come down and feed off an entire country in Africa for example every ten years, thereby providing it with the energy source it needs. He gives Axos time to decide and Axos plans to "agree", but only after first sucking the Earth completely dry of energy...
Evelyn finds Craig communicating with someone in French and she deduces he's a spy so he takes her hostage after failing to convince her otherwise. It is discovered that he's working on behalf of the Eurozone Space Agency who believe that the energy source from Axos should be used and shared with everyone worldwide. Craig demands to speak with Campbell Irons. The Eurozone sends two ships to attack Axos, the Jules Verne and the Johannes Kepler. They pass through the time threshold and hear a possible message from the future saying they've failed which worries them, but they proceed anyway, dismissing it as a potentiality. The Doctor, in the meantime, takes the others with him to shut off the nuclear drive in the Windermere so Campbell Irons cannot use it as he claimed. Axos, preparing for battle with the ships, absorbs Craig, killing him in the process, and preapares to absorb the Windermere. The Doctor, Evelyn and Joanna arrive in the Windermere where they meet David who explains he's discovered the nuclear reactors have been booby trapped, and if they break the dials it will detonate. Just then they discover that Axos has killed and absorbed Craig, giving it an energy boost which it is using to wrap its tendrils around the Windermere. The Doctor refuses to kill Axos since it is still a living thing and suggests that they escape using his TARDIS. Evelyn only allows the Doctor to enact his risky plan that will put Thomas in danger only if he promises to return him to his own time as he requested earlier and the Doctor reluctantly agrees. Axos, eavesdropping on their conversation along with Brewster, cuts off the transmission before Brewster hears that last part and conivnces him that the Doctor is not interested in saving him, and he pledges his allegiance to Axos.
The four manage to escape the Windermere while the Jules Verne continues to try to get to Axos. Meanwhile Axos has Brewster activate the negotiator and they contact Campbell Irons, where they pretend to "accept" his proposal but reveal they have modified the microwave transmitter that was sent with the crew using axonite and absorb Campbell Irons and the rest of the control center in Devesham using it. It prepares to feast on Earth as it slowly regains energy. The Jules Verne arrives and its crew recognise the four on the outside of Axos. They manage to contact the Doctor who begins to explain the situation but suddenly contact is cut. The ship attempts to come closer, seeming like it will collect them, but in the confusion, Evelyn accidentally lets go of the safety line before the Doctor gives the command and begins to float away, despite the Doctor's desperate attempts to find a way to get her back...
The Doctor promises Evelyn he will find her and bring her back. Joanna, meanwhile, notices the microwave transmitter on the Windermere is activated and realises that someone is using it. The Jules Verne disappears and the three manage to get inside one of Axos' "gills". The Doctor realises that the ship was effected by the time loop but matters at hand are worse, as the Doctor realises that Axos is going to use the Axon duplicate it made of the Doctor, with his memories, knowledge and abilities, to use the TARDIS to escape the time loop.
Evelyn manages to board the Jules Verne and meets Philippe Lefevre and Svenni Nilson, and they try think of a plan to save everyone. Axos, through Brewster, contacts them, and he tries to trick Evelyn but she sees through his deception. Axos threatens to kill Brewster but he promises he can get them the key to the TARDIS so they can finally get inside. Brewster finds the Doctor and catches them up on what's going on while the Doctor makes a plan. Joanna heads out back to the Windermere with David to prepare the nuclear reactor despite the Doctor's wishes. Just as he prepares to leave, Brewster reveals he stole the TARDIS key from the Doctor's pocket and how he resents the Doctor for his attitude towards him. He then leaves with the Axons. On the Jules Verne, they plan to use the bomb they brought but are contacted by the Windermere who explains for them to wait. Joanna, aboard the Windermere, realises through the time loop and the messages echoing through it that they keep hearing are that they're successful but it means activating the reactor and sacrificing themselves.
The Doctor is forced to set the TARDIS coordinates to help Axos escape. However, Brewster reveals the Doctor's trickery to them and that the Windermere is set to explode, taking out Axos with it. The Axon Doctor immediately dematerialises the TARDIS just as the Windermere explodes, taking out Axos and killing Joanna and David in the process, and because the two are stuck in the time loop, it happens over and over. However, it is of no consequence since the Axon Doctor brought Axos' conscience into the TARDIS and plans to escape using it to Earth and rebuild itself using Earth's material. It then reveals that it is disposing of Thomas Brewster, having read his mind, knew he would end up betraying it. Brewster begs for his life and just then the Doctor expresses his remorse for Axos, and with it momentarily distracted he instructs Brewster to grab it. They then risk their lives to deposit Axos back into the explosion using the TARDIS fast return switch as the Jules Verne watches from afar.
They manage to succeed and escape successfully while the Axon Doctor decomposes having been cut off from the main body and the Doctor retrieves Evelyn from the Jules Verne. She leaves Thomas and the Doctor to work something out while she goes to get changed and the Doctor after telling Brewster that Evelyn thinks they're very similar, agrees to take him back home, to planet Earth.
- The Doctor / Axos - Colin Baker
- Evelyn Smythe - Maggie Stables
- Thomas Brewster - John Pickard
- Voice of Axos / The Axons - Bernard Holley
- Campbell Irons / Svenni Nilson - John Banks
- Joanna Slade - Andree Bernard
- David Brock - Chook Sibtain
- Craig Swanson - Peter Forbes
- Philippe Lefevre - Duncan Wisbey
- Joanna describes Axos as being stuck as a figure eight in four dimensions.
- Craig mentions the global lottery.
- Evelyn calls the spare clothes in the wardrobe room "Barbarella's cast-offs".
- Evelyn is not sure if the TARDIS wradrobe is supposed to be sorted by planet, date, colour or chest size.
- Evelyn describes Axos' arteries as like a "bouncy castle".
- Evelyn describes the Central Chamber of Axos as like a cathedral made of jelly.
- The pressure inside the central chamber is measured by the Doctor as 1 atmosphere (unit).
- Brewster describes crawling around Axos as similar to Jonah crawling inside the belly of a whale.
- Joanna and Craig have read the UNIT files on the Doctor and the TARDIS.
- Joanna describes the TARDIS as a 1950s Metropolitan police box and asks if the doors open the wrong way.
- Joanna describes the TARDIS's dematerialisation noise as similar to "an elephant in labour".
- The Doctor says the race that built the arbitrator is more advanced compared to humans as humans are compared to nematodes.
- Campbell Irons wants to spread his influence beyond Britain and the Eurozone.
- Evelyn can recognise and speak French.
- When the Doctor, Evelyn, Joanna and David escape the Windermere, the Doctor reminds them of Newton's Third Law, saying "if you try to move anything, you'll only end up moving yourselves".
- Evelyn quotes Lord Byron's poem "England": "Oh the British Isles, for all thy faults, I love thee still".
- The Doctor, when comparing the human brain with his, says it is similar to comparing a parsley pig to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
- Axonite cannot replicate the TARDIS key.
Cultural references from the real world
- Evelyn mentions David Bowie.
- Whilst in their spacesuits, Evelyn calls the Doctor "Flash Gordon" and Thomas Brewster "Buck Rogers".
- Evelyn gets excited when they find out Craig is a spy, comparing him to James Bond.
- Brewster gives Evelyn the nicknames of "Old Mother Hubbard" and "Old Mum Smythe."
Food and Drink
- Alcohol is illegal on spaceships.
- The Doctor sarcastically claims that using the reverse thrusters to try and stop Axos from wrapping its tendrils around the ship would be like giving it a nice tonic drink and some glucose tablets.
- The Windermere crew is using technology that fell to Earth from orbit, including a time field generator and an alien displacement device found in Kent.
- Evelyn asks whether it's another Time Lord that is playing around with time technology when the TARDIS detects the time disturbance.
- Campbell wanted Axos to use the microwave transmitter to transmit the energy to Earth.
- Joanna uses a chainsaw to take out an Axonoid.
- This story marks the first audio appearance of Axos.
- This audio story was recorded on 15 and 16 July 2010 at The Moat Studios.
- Axos reveals its plan is to take the secret of time travel from the Doctor's brain and use it to freely travel through time and space in order to feed on all life. It claims that this act will be "The Feast of Axos". This is, of course, the title of the story.
- Andree Bernard, who voices Joanna Slade, has a line in which she compares the TARDIS's dematerialisation noise to "an elephant in labour". Bernard also played the character of Dolly Bailey in the television episode TV: The Shakespeare Code, who owned an inn called the Elephant. It is unknown if this reference was intentional.
- Joanna describes the TARDIS as a 1950s Metropolitan police box but it's actually more often described as being from the 1960s. (TV: Meanwhile in the TARDIS, et al.) However, the Doctor did once describe it as being similar to phone boxes from the 1950s. (TV: Rose)
- The Eurozone ship Jules Verne is named after the French author and Science Fiction writer Jules Verne, while the Johannes Kepler is named after the scientist and astronomer Johannes Kepler. Thus making Craig French suggests the correlation earlier in the story.
- Evelyn refers to the clothes in the TARDIS wardrobe as "Barbarella's cast-offs". This may be an indirect reference to Peri Brown's clothes, or more specifically to the tight leotards, short skirts and low-cut shirts that Nicola Bryant had to wear while playing the character. (DOC: Doctor Who @40)
- The Doctor tells Evelyn that Brewster's pretending to be him is 'the second time [he's] pulled that particular stunt'. (AUDIO: Time Reef)
- Many years later, the Seventh Doctor and Evelyn would reminisce about spending time "in a spacesuit bouncing about Axos with that poor boy Brewster." (AUDIO: A Death in the Family)
- The events of TV: The Claws of Axos are mentioned, stated as being "nearly 50 years ago".
- The Doctor comments that his spacesuit is "the one with the fishbowl helmet". (TV: The Moonbase)
- Campbell Irons bought the British Rocket Group (TV: Remembrance of the Daleks, PROSE: The Dying Days) and runs his operation from the former Space Defence Station in Devesham. (TV: The Android Invasion)
- The Doctor says "if you want something doing, don't leave it to your former selves", mentioning how he trapped Axos in a time loop. (TV: The Claws of Axos) However, his TARDIS was disabled, half his memory was gone and he blames the Time Lords, who he explains exiled him on Earth. This resulted in the current predicament, or as Evelyn put it, "a botched job". (TV: The War Games, Spearhead from Space, et al. )
- The Doctor reminds Brewster of the various schemes he has pulled off in the past, such as "selling off his TARDIS bit by bit, kidnapping innocent people, running a criminal gang, pretending to be the Doctor..." (AUDIO: The Haunting of Thomas Brewster, The Crimes of Thomas Brewster et al.)
- Evelyn reminds Thomas he abducted her to another planet. (AUDIO: The Crimes of Thomas Brewster )
- Joanna and Craig have read the UNIT files on the Doctor and the TARDIS. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)
- Joanna describes the TARDIS as a 1950s Metropolitan police box and asks if the doors open the wrong way. (TV: An Unearthly Child, The Doctor's Wife et al.)
- The Doctor again wishes he had his sonic screwdriver, surprising Joanna that he doesn't have it on him. He explains it's on his 'to-do' list. The sonic screwdriver was destroyed on a visit to London in 1666 and the Doctor has forgotten to replace it since. (TV: The Visitation)
- The Doctor uses the TARDIS's fast return switch. (TV: The Edge of Destruction, AUDIO: The Destination Wars, Return to Skaro, The Sonomancer et al.)
- The Doctor says the time loop will decay naturally over the next six billion years but intelligent life in this galaxy and on the planet will cease to exist by then. The Earth is destroyed in the year five billion, an event that the Ninth Doctor takes Rose to see. (TV: The End of the World)
- Evelyn compares herself to Barbarella. The Ninth Doctor made this comparison with Rose, albeit due to the clothes she was wearing and how it would cause a riot in Victorian England if people saw her dressed like that. He then tells her to go get a better outfit from the TARDIS wardrobe, just as Evelyn used it earlier, with Evelyn even comparing the clothes in there to things Barbarella would wear. (TV: The Unquiet Dead)
- Evelyn asks whether it's another Time Lord that is playing around with time technology when the TARDIS detects the time disturbance. When the Doctor had previously encountered the Axons in his third incarnation, he found that rival Timelord the Master was in league with Axos. (TV: The Claws of Axos)
- Official The Feast of Axos page at bigfinish.com
- DisContinuity for The Feast of Axos at Tetrapyriarbus - The DisContinuity Guide