The Holy Terror was the fourteenth story in Big Finish's monthly range. It was written by Robert Shearman and featured Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor and Robert Jezek as Frobisher, a character who first appeared in the 1984 Doctor Who Magazine comic story The Shape Shifter.
It was the second of Big Finish's "Side Steps", a series devoted to exploring other "takes" of the Doctor Who universe than the one Big Finish themselves had been developing. In this case, the story, advertised as a side-step into "a 2D universe", was intended to slot into the "world" developed by the Doctor Who Magazine Sixth Doctor comic strip, featuring Frobisher instead of one of Big Finish's usual Sixth Doctor companions.
This story was also notable as Robert Shearman's first contribution to official audio-based Doctor Who — although he'd previously contributed the audio Punchline, which had no legal connection to the DWU but was all but stated to feature an amnesiac Seventh Doctor as its main character, to BBV Productions.
The TARDIS lands in a forbidding castle in a time of religious upheaval. The old god has been overthrown, and all heretics are to be slaughtered. Obviously it isn't the sort of thing which would happen there every day — just every few years or so.
Soon after the Doctor and Frobisher are hailed as messengers from heaven, they become vital to opposing factions in their struggle for power. But will they be merely the acolytes of the new order — or will they be made gods themselves?
Evil is growing deep within the crypt. And the pair soon find out that they will be lucky to escape their new immortality with their lives.
The Doctor's companion Frobisher, a shapeshifting mesomorph in the shape of a penguin, decides to use the TARDIS' dimensional stabilisers to create a gumblejack fish. This weakens the TARDIS' interior dimensions and prompts an emergency landing in a medieval castle.
As the TARDIS materializes, Pepin VI - newly crowned as his people's emperor and God - finds he lacks the stomach to rule and disavows his divinity. Eugene Tacitus notes all events down, albeit glamorizing them, in a 'Bible'. The people of the kingdom interpret the arrival of the TARDIS as a sign from Heaven and disregard his claims of not being divine. Pepin is left in his office with the Doctor and Frobisher, whom are dubbed his 'angels'.
To learn more about the society, the Doctor visits the scribe Eugene Tacitus. He notices mysterious things in all the bibles of past 'Gods', notably that they are all in Eugene's handwriting (despite the kings having lived long lives) and that each book is exactly as long as it needs to be to fit all of the King's life in.
Soon after, the Doctor and Eugene find a secret chamber beneath the castle, where Childeric, Pepin's illegitimate half brother, keeps his five-year-old son hidden from all human contact. Childric hopes to usurp the throne by preserving his son's purity and evolving him into the people's all-powerful messiah. However when the boy is released, he demonstrates horrifying reality warping powers and an insatiable desire to kill.
Eugene grows unhinged, claiming he has seen the boy before, and flees with the Doctor. The boy mentally scans Childric, learning that he is not his father and telekinetically tears him apart. Using it's abilities, the child teleports around the castle searching for it's real father and individually kills each inhabitant of the castle until only the Doctor, Frobisher, and Eugene are left. Eugene swears the child has repeatedly murdered the castle's residents for centuries, but the Doctor, noticing the child's mannerisms, identifies Eugene as the boy's father.
The Doctor realizes that the castle, and everyone in it, is part of a fictional reality created by Eugene as a means of self-torturing escapism. It is revealed that in real life, Eugene murdered his sleeping son. He then constructed the castle reality and seeded it with stereotypical characters to escape his inner guilt. However, a sub-routine in the reality's make-up continually called forward the child to slaughter the other characters. Every time the cycle repeated, Eugene would kill the child - reliving his crime. This would restore all the characters to life and the fiction would start anew.
The Doctor convinces Eugene that the cycle of violence must be broken and resists the urge to kill the child, placing the handle of his knife in the child's hands. As the Doctor and Frobisher protest, the child skewers Eugene through the heart. As Eugene dies, the castle's reality fades into a featureless void, leaving only the Doctor, Frobisher, and the TARDIS behind.
Saddened by the deaths they've witnessed, the Doctor reminds Frobisher that the gumblejack fish he used the TARDIS to create at the start of the story is similar to all the characters they witnessed die. They board the healed TARDIS and depart.
- The Doctor - Colin Baker
- Frobisher - Robert Jezek
- Eugene Tacitus / The Child - Sam Kelly
- Berengaria - Roberta Taylor
- Childeric - Peter Guinness
- Captain Sejanus - Daniel Hogarth
- Livilla - Helen Punt
- Pepin VII - Stefan Atkinson
- Clovis - Peter Sowerbutts
- Arnulf - Bruce Mann
- Sculptor / Guard - Robert Shearman
- Guard - Gary Russell
- Woman - Jacqueline Rayner
- Frobisher hunts for a gumblejack that he creates in the TARDIS. He prefers to hunt live fish rather than eat the canned tuna the Doctor stores for him.
- The dimensional stabilisers gives the TARDIS its form and supplies the interior with gravity and oxygen.
- An illustrated preview for this story featured in Doctor Who Magazine issue 298 with art by Lee Sullivan.
- This is the first audio appearance of Frobisher as well as his only appearance in the main range to date; Jezek would reprise the role for the subscriber special The Maltese Penguin. It is also one of Big Finish's Side Steps. Another of the Doctor's magazine companions, Izzy, would appear in The Company of Friends.
- The CD case describes it as "A Side Step...into a 2D universe."
- This story was released on both CD and cassette. Both are now unavailable and the story is now available as a digital download only.
- The final thirty seconds of the second disc (the end of the Coming Soon track of trailers) contains an easter egg of the "All Hail Frobisher!" line put to rhythm.
- This audio drama was recorded on 5 and 6 August 2000 at The Moat Studios.
- This is one of a few stories in which all the characters except for the Doctor and his companions die. The first such story was the television story Horror of Fang Rock.
- Bob Brooker performed the lute music for this production.
- Russell Stone's score was released on Music from the New Audio Adventures Volume 3, alongside the soundtracks for Red Dawn and Winter for the Adept.
- The story takes place between the comic strips The World Shapers and The Age of Chaos.
- The Second Doctor visited another realm populated by fictional characters, namely the Land of Fiction. (TV: The Mind Robber) He would return to the Land of Fiction later in his sixth incarnation (AUDIO: City of Spires, Night's Black Agents, The Wreck of the Titan, Legend of the Cybermen) and during his seventh incarnation. (PROSE: Conundrum, Head Games)
- Official The Holy Terror page at bigfinish.com
- DisContinuity for The Holy Terror at Tetrapyriarbus - The DisContinuity Guide