The Girl Who Never Was was the one hundred and third story in Big Finish's monthly range. It was written by Alan Barnes and featured Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor and India Fisher as Charlotte Pollard.
This was the last full-cast audio story to feature the Eighth Doctor and Charlotte Pollard travelling together until the release of The Light at the End and The End of the Beginning. However it is not the final appearance for Charlotte Pollard, who goes on to travel with the Sixth Doctor beginning with The Condemned and later appeared in her own self-titled spin-off.
"Dot dot dot, dash dash dash, dot dot dot. Someone's listening. Somewhere."
A ghost ship.
A girl with no memory, adrift in time.
An old enemy.
This could be Charlotte Pollard's finest hour — or her last.
Still grieving the death of C'rizz, the Doctor unhappily sets the controls to take Charley back to her own place and time. The TARDIS lands and the Doctor makes one more plea to Charley to reconsider her decision to leave, but she refuses to be dissuaded. She asks for confirmation that they are back where she requested, which the Doctor obliges. He reminds her that the R101 would have been completely destroyed by this time, but she still doesn't listen and ignores the Doctor's further pleads to be rational. The Doctor opens the doors after Charley ensures him that she isn't planning on going back home. The Doctor reveals that he had instead directed the TARDIS to Singapore, 1930, where Charley was headed when she met him; they've arrived on New Years Day, 1931.
Charley is elated about this, and requests that the Doctor leave once she's turned her back so they can leave on good terms. As Charley is counting, the Doctor takes note that the skyline is incorrect and the technology around them isn't from the 1930s. The fireworks in the sky reveal that they had instead arrived in 2008. Charley accuses the Doctor of bringing them here deliberately, so as to minimise the risk of her presence damaging the Web of Time. She refuses to listen to his defence and storms off angrily after the Doctor had gone back inside to TARDIS to confirm that something was wrong.
In the control room, the Doctor checks the reading on the controls and the scanner. Charley finds her way to a hotel where she writes a note for the Doctor to find and leaves it with the receptionist. After leaving her name with the receptionist, another guest who had been on the phone and overheard the discussion, follows her out. The Doctor comes out of the TARDIS to discover Charley gone and goes in search of her. Charley is approached by the guest from the reception and introduces himself as Byron. He suggests that she come away with him on his boat, to which she heartily accepts, and Byron hails a taxi. The Doctor finally catches up with Charley as they are driving away and tries to convince Charley that he found what drove the TARDIS off course and that it still exists out at sea, having originated in 1942, but she still refuses to listen to him. Byron, on the other hand, shows a remarkable degree of interest, to Charley's irritation. Suddenly, Byron pulls a gun on the pair and orders the Doctor come with them.
Before the car can leave, a detective pulls it over and calls Byron out for a number of explosives placed under the car. The Doctor convinces the detective that he is a fugitive from Interpol and that Charley is a police officer sent to bring him in, with Byron being her informant. When everyone is clear of the car, the Doctor detonates the explosives with his sonic screwdriver and Byron flees, while the Doctor and Charley make for the TARDIS. In the control room, the Doctor tries to establish the mystery surrounding who Byron is and how he knew about the temporal hump that drew the TARDIS there. Charley finally gives in and agrees to accompany the Doctor for 'one last lap of glory', before the Doctor sets course for the location of the hump.
Elsewhere, a woman receives a call from Byron, who tells about the Doctor and Charley and their interest in the Karimata Strait, and that a car has been sent to collect her. The TARDIS lands aboard a wrecked boat and Charley notes the ball room. She also notes that the boat is empty, and the Doctor suggests that there hasn't been anyone there for 66 years; the TARDIS wouldn't go to 1942 because of the temporal hump. He identifies the boat as the SS Batavia. The pair of them make their way through the boat and the Doctor theories that the boat was sank in 1942 while Singapore was at siege, and that it was the last ship out of the harbour. Charley burns her hand on a rail on what she assumes to be acid, but the Doctor concludes it's temporal corrosion, a condition found in the time vortex.
Charley surmises that the boat has been in the vortex, when they notice that the corrosion is eating it's way over their footsteps, heading back towards the TARDIS. The Doctor and Charley race back through the boat, trying to get to the TARDIS before the corrosion kills it. Charley trips and falls on the floor, the wood having been rotted by the temporal corrosion. When the Doctor returns to bring her to her feet, the floor gives way beneath him and he falls into the water. He sends Charley back to the TARDIS to get some cable from the console. The corrosion is already affecting the outer shell and the Doctor warns her that the HADS may soon activate, but Charley doesn't hear him. Before she can bring the cable outside, the TARDIS closes the doors and takes off without the Doctor.
In a ship's cabin, the crew is discussing the lack of light, when Byron comes in and berates their ill-enthusiasm. One of the crew members starts playing something on the piano, and the rest of crew join in with the singing. Suddenly, Charley wanders into the cabin, and asks if the year in 1942. Byron finds her presence quite amusing, while Charley finds his startling. Back in 2008, Byron nears the sunken boat and calls back to the woman at the back in celebration of it's discovery. The woman spots the Doctor on the bottom deck and Byron has the helicopter head down to collect. In 1942, Byron takes Charley to another cabin, and is confused that she knows who he is already. Charley makes an effort to convince him that she's armed, but Byron sees through her ruse almost instantly and then threatens her. He releases her when she spots fighter planes approaching. In 2008, Byron has his men point their arms at the Doctor, while he helps the woman, his mother, off the helicopter. To the Doctor's shock, the woman identifies herself as Charlotte Pollard...
The Doctor is instantly taken aback by the woman's claimed and tries to confirm her claims (receiving a slap in the process), but still struggles to concede that she is, in fact, Charlotte Pollard. Byron continues to insist on carrying on with the business in hand. He orders his men to start shifting cargo from below the deck. The Doctor continues to question Miss Pollard, who tells him about the disappearance of the boat in 1942, when her 21st birthday was. The Doctor, stunned, admits that she may be Charley after all.
In 1942, the fighter planes have flown overhead, while Byron finally releases Charley. A crewman calls for Byron to come to the captain, while Charley opts to follow him to the bridge. In 2008, the Doctor asks Ms. Pollard about her loss of memory in 1942 and Byron sends the helicopter away. Having had enough of the Doctor's claims, he has one of his men search his pockets and he sets off a mouse trap the Doctor had primed in them, which Ms. Pollard finds most amusing. Byron accuses the Doctor of trying to pirate the SS Batavia for whatever was still there and Miss Pollard is insistent that the only thing that would have been on the ship when it sank was the valuable possessions of passengers from the main ships.
Byron and Charley are brought in front of the captain, who takes an immediate dislike to Charley's presence, but Byron vouches for her. They examine the remains of an operator who was killed in the fighter planes' assault. Byron explains he was a defector with top secret plans for a machine which blocks radar detection by making the ship allegedly invisible. Charley claims that the only thing the machine needs is powering up, and suggests using the lightning of the storm rolling over to do so. In 2008, Byron is attempting to break into a vault on the ship's lower decks, to no avail and the Doctor's smugness. Byron orders his men to bring down a plastic explosive to open the vault door, which the Doctor is sceptical of as it could just as easily sink the ship; he also continues questions the mystery of the boat and of Miss Pollard's history. Byron continues to get more and more pent up when Miss Pollard hits him over the head with a wrench, knocking him unconscious. She and the Doctor proceed further into the ship to investigate.
In 1942, Charley and the captain have the crew of the Batavia raise a conductor up to mast in order to attempt Charley's plan. In 2008, Byron's men find him unconscious and wake him up. They find the Doctor and Miss Pollard gone and go in search of them. The Doctor and Ms. Pollard make their way into the bridge when the Doctor finds the operator's pulse generator and theorises that whenever there was a storm, the machine would power up and make the whole ship invisible, much like Charley's principle would enable in 1942.
Charley, Byron and the captain return to the bridge and wait for the lightning to hit the conduction and power the machine. The captain is impatient and uses the ship's instruments to detect a submarine in the vicinity. The Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to fix the telegraph machine, but neither he nor Ms. Pollard can understand the output. Byron and his men storm the bridge and hold the Doctor and Ms. Pollard at gunpoint. Byron tries to get in touch with one of his men, only to hear him scream and fire rapidly over the radio; they go to investigate the occurrence.
Charley's plan begins to work as lightning strikes the conductor and the machine powers up and begins to operate. No-one on the bridge can figure out the telegraph output either. The machine begins to overload and the captain is killed trying to turn it off. A crewman uses a fire axe to break the machine before it explodes, leaving the ship defenceless and in full view. The Doctor, Miss Pollard, Byron and his surviving men find the deceased crew members where he had been last heard. Curly, Byron's right hand, accuses the Doctor of having men aboard. The Doctor is insistent that he wasn't responsible, and deduces that they were killed by their own bullets being fired wildly in a confined area. Miss Pollard questions why they started firing in the first place.
In 1942, Byron broadcasts an S.O.S with their position, requesting assistance, but only hears a mild form of voice in response. The machine transmits an ear-splitting pulse which entrances Byron and voices on the radio declare their intention to board. In 2008, Byron remains cynical that there is anything aboard the ship for his men to fire at, but the Doctor is not dissuaded of the notion and wishes to investigate. Byron has Curly lock his mother up for her 'protection' and forces the Doctor to cooperate.
Byron, in 1942, begins to examine the pulse generator, whilst Charley and the crewman (whom Charley deduces from her own past form is really a girl in disguise) hide. The girl introduces herself as Madeleine Fairweather and Charley notices that Byron has stopped working on the machine. It begins to function differently, while Charley and Madeline go to warn the passengers. In 2008, Byron blows a hole in the vault and forces the Doctor, at gunpoint, into the vault first, in case of something being there. Charley and Madeleine make their way across the deck, when Charley hears the TARDIS taking off without her, stranding her on the ship in 1942. When she realises the HADS to have been the cause, she realises that the TARDIS foresaw an event in the near future which will have severe, fatal consequences. The crew detect torpedoes incoming, and Charley thinks it too late for them. Byron finally bring his mysterious contacts on board the ship.
In 2008, the Doctor and Byron search the crates in the hold, when Miss Pollard makes her way back to them. Echoey footsteps begin advancing on them, as a group of Cybermen swarm the vault and declare that they will be like them...
The Cybermen demand the surrender of the three of them, but Byron stubbornly stands his ground. They surround and apprehend them, wondering how they are known to them. Charley and Madeleine note that the torpedoes missed them but Charley observes the differences in the area around them. Finally understanding, Charley races for the bridge and Madeleine tails after her.
Byron again accuses the Doctor of knowing the Cybermen were aboard and he still refuses any such knowledge. The Doctor notes the shoddy condition of the Cybermen, explaining while they don't know him. The Cybermen decide the trio should be converted and they run. In 1942, Byron has overcome his trance and Charley wakes him up with a slap. Still dazed, Byron explains they and the boat have been translated. The radar starts picking up signals that aren't from submarines; Charley tries to warn the crew and witness the Cybermen begin to board the Batavia. Miss Pollard is tired out and has to stop, but Byron flees all the same. The Doctor and Miss Pollard stumble upon the TARDIS and hurry inside before the Cybermen advance on them.
Miss Pollard feels the TARDIS to be familiar but doesn't remember it clearly, only the noise it makes in flight. The Doctor is checks the console and finds the TARDIS recently left 1942 when the Batavia went missing and takes off in search of it. The Cybermen board the Batavia and take dominance over the passengers. Charley walks in and demands to address the Cyber-Leader about information concerning the Garazone System. The Cybermen escort Charley away from the passengers. In 2008, Curly demands to be let out, when he hears the Cybermen outside. They break into the room and drag him away for conversion.
The TARDIS lands on the bridge of the boat, in front of a stunned Byron. The Doctor wishes to use the TARDIS to take the boat a short distance through space, opting to sink the ship and the Cybermen with it. With this knowledge, Byron reveals his new arrangement with the Cybermen and calls them inside, where they swiftly apprehend the Doctor and Miss Pollard. The Cybermen demand the Doctor's assistance instead of converting him, much to his confusion. Byron orders all parties off of the bridge. In the past, the Cybermen bring Charley before the Cyber-Planner. It demands Charley's knowledge of operations in the Garazone System and reveals that the entire boat has been transported trough time by 500,000 years. Charley explains that she had travelled through time before the Cybermen moved the ship. The Cyber-Planner explains that a Cyberman Time Squad was launched into the future as a test in time travel and were subject to corruption and systems failure; to this end, they have brought the boat into the future, to a period where Earth has been vacated to convert the passengers, before returning them to 1942 to continue converting the population, thus changing history.
Byron is tended to by Madeleine, who also tries to comfort to other passengers. The Cybermen reveal that Byron will not survive having previously had the Cyber-Planner present in his now-deteriorating brain. In 2008, the Cybermen bring the Doctor and Miss Pollard into the brig and order him to reactivate the Cyber-Planner, threatening Miss Pollard's wellbeing should he not comply. Byron now orders the Cybermen to vacate the boat, but they don't listen and await instructions from the Cyber-Planner, but it's response is meaningless. Deciding to revert to a basic Cyberman protocol, the Doctor arms Byron and Miss Pollard with ingots of gold, which he'd taken from another crate, to defend themselves with. The Doctor and Miss Pollard make for the TARDIS; Byron tries to order the Cybermen to stop them, but they take him for conversion as soon as he drops the gold.
Madeleine tries to keep Byron conscious, but the Cybermen declare him dead. The boat starts undergoing signs of temporal corrosion, and the Cyber-Planner orders the Cybermen to coerce Charley into talking, when the Cybermen who held her back suffer from corrosion that Charley was carrying with her. The Cyber-Planner calls other units to protect it, but Charley infects it with corrosion and it downloads itself into Charley's brain.
The Cybermen place Byron in a Cyber-Conversion unit and Curly walks in, fully converted. Unable to stop it, Byron screams as his conversion begins. In the TARDIS, the Doctor slaves the pulse generator to the TARDIS' navigational systems and sets it to activate as soon as the TARDIS dematerialises. On take off, the boat is dragged through time with it, arriving on a collision course with an iceberg. The ship strikes and the hull is breached, forcing the Cybermen back into the hold. Retreating back into the TARDIS, Miss Pollard finds herself unable to grieve Byron, but the Doctor assures her that she will and offers to take her with him again. Remembering Curly was still locked in the brig, she requests the Doctor go back and find him. After he's gone under, the converted Byron emerges from the water and guns her down.
In the future, the passengers trick the Cybermen into looking into the piano and break the lid over it's head. The Doctor returns and finds Miss Pollard by the TARDIS wounded and dying. The Doctor tries to keep her awake, when she reveals that she isn't Charlotte Pollard but Madeleine Fairweather, before she can tell him about what happened to Charley, she dies. The young Madeleine stirs up the passengers who fight against the Cybermen but to no avail. The new Cyberleader walks into the room, Charley, who announces that they will all become like her...
To be added
- The Doctor - Paul McGann
- Charley Pollard - India Fisher
- Byron - Danny Webb
- Miss Pollard - Anna Massey
- Madeleine Fairweather - Amanda Root
- Curly - David Yip
- Borthwick - Robert Duncan
- Receptionist - Natalie Mendoza
- Colville - Tim Sutton
- Young Man - Jake McGann
- Cybermen/Soldier - Nicholas Briggs
- The Doctor mentions Casablanca.
- The Doctor references the Three Stooges, Curly, Larry and Moe.
- Byron and Charley exclaim 'Rabbits!', a phrase synonymous with Tegan Jovanka.
- The Doctor has had a room at the Singapore Hilton since 1872.
- Charley mentions C'rizz.
- The Doctor and Charley saw a form of radar-jamming device on Quaxan IV.
Theories and concepts
- Both the Doctor and Charley mention the Web of Time.
- The SS Batavia is transported through time to Earth after a solar flare.
- Temporal corrosion is a fungal organism which grows in the Time Vortex. The Doctor states that is fatal to TARDISes.
- Chronologically, this is the final Eighth Doctor audio drama to feature Charley Pollard. However, it was not the final Eighth Doctor/Charley audio. AUDIO: Solitaire, Enemy Aliens, The Light at the End, and The End of the Beginning' were released after this story. It remains possible for Big Finish to record more Eighth Doctor/Charley adventures set prior to The Girl Who Never Was, in the same way that there were more Evelyn Smythe adventures after her "final" story was released. For that matter, there was nothing preventing them from setting a story afterward as well.
- This is the first encounter between the Sixth Doctor and Charley. However, Colin Baker does not appear in this story. The cliffhanger resolves in AUDIO: The Condemned, where we understand that the TARDIS that landed at the end of this story in fact belonged to the earlier incarnation.
- The paradox of Charley meeting the Sixth Doctor was ultimately resolved in AUDIO: Blue Forgotten Planet. That story explained how it was possible for the Eighth Doctor to have no knowledge of Charley prior to his first encounter with her on the R101 (AUDIO: Storm Warning) — despite having had many adventures with her as the Sixth Doctor. Indeed, one of the central themes of the Sixth Doctor/Charley adventures, which began in the final seconds of The Girl Who Never Was, was the tension between her desire to avoid telling the Doctor too much and his need to fully trust her.
- The circumstances in which Charley meets the Sixth Doctor in this story are explicitly pertinent to understanding the resolution to the overall Sixth Doctor/Charley story arc in AUDIO: Blue Forgotten Planet.
- This story was voted as the readers' favourite audio in the Doctor Who Magazine 2008 survey.
- An illustrated preview appeared in DWM 390 by Anthony Dry.
- This audio drama was recorded on 27 and 28 June 2007 at The Moat Studios.
- It was released on 3 December 2007.
- This story was originally released on CD and download.
- Charley first met the Doctor aboard the British airship R101 on 5 October 1930. (AUDIO: Storm Warning)
- The Doctor tried to get Charley to the right Singapore in AUDIO: Seasons of Fear.
- The Doctor and Charley refer to their trip to Venice in 2294 (AUDIO: The Stones of Venice) and their encounter with Orson Welles on 30 October 1938 (AUDIO: Invader from Mars).
- Charley first encountered the Cybermen aboard a Telosian star destroyer in the Garazone system in 2503. (AUDIO: Sword of Orion)
- Charley mentions her uncle Jacques. (AUDIO: Memory Lane)
- The Doctor and Charley discuss Daleks boarding the Mary Celeste in 1872, and Charley guesses correctly that Daleks invaded it. (TV: The Chase)
- HADS kicks in and sends Charley, who's inside, away to 17 January 1942. (TV: The Krotons)
- The Doctor employs the technique of wiping Charley's mind but is unsuccessful as she almost immediately remembers everything. The Tenth Doctor later did the same thing to Donna Noble, though in her case the process was more successful. (TV: Journey's End)
- Upon entering the TARDIS and seeing the Sixth Doctor, Charley tells him that she was "expecting someone else." (TV: The Caves of Androzani)
- The Sixth Doctor will have a similar premature meeting with Jack Harkness, who was waiting for the Ninth Doctor. (AUDIO: Piece of Mind)
- Later in his personal timeline, the Doctor would meet Charley on one further occasion when he and Lucie Miller encountered his younger self while he was travelling with her and C'rizz in an American frontier town in the 1870s. This encounter was observed by the Sixth Doctor and his companion Evelyn Smythe. (AUDIO: The 100 Days of the Doctor)
- When the Doctor returns to the hotel, the receptionist says the clocks can't be wrong, because they all have beryllium chips. (TV: Doctor Who)
- The Australian Byron says Rabbits!, a frequent exclamation of Tegan Jovanka, another Australian. (TV: Logopolis, et al)
- The Girl Who Never Was Transcript
- DisContinuity for The Girl Who Never Was at Tetrapyriarbus - The DisContinuity Guide