The Home Guard was the first story of the sixth series of The Early Adventures, produced by Big Finish Productions. It was written by Simon Guerrier, narrated by Anneke Wills and featured the Second Doctor, Jamie McCrimmon, Ben Jackson and Polly Wright. James Dreyfus also features as the Master, returning after his encounter with the First Doctor in The Destination Wars.
Guerrier was inspired by Dominic Sandbrook's history of 1960s Britain, White Heat, and the BBC wartime sitcom, Dad's Army. Originally the story was a pastiche of Dad's Army but Guerrier was dissatisfied with it and rewrote it, incorporating a tone similar to the 1945 film Brief Encounter.
A number of references remain to the sources of inspiration: the cover's Union Flag arrows are identical to those seen in the Dad's Army opening credits, the character of Robert Collins was based on Private Godfrey, and the Doctor also calls Jamie "stupid boy". Additionally, Sandbrook lends his surname to the character Jill Sandbrook. (BFX: The Home Guard)
It’s the middle of the Second World War and Ben Jackson has returned to visit his married friends Polly and Jamie in their quiet English village. But they can't quite shake the feeling that something's not right...
A battered and bruised soldier, with a broken arm, flees through a field of ruth. He finally reaches a bus stop, just as a bus is approaching; but as he is waving his healthy arm to tell the driver to stop, a dark figure reaches him and kills him with a cubic object he holds in his hand. From that same bus, Ben Jackson, a sailor from the Royal Navy, comes down just a second later, and goes off his way, without noticing the tiny, doll-size corpse of the soldier.
Ben reaches the cottage of two old friends, a married couple: Jamie McCrimmon and Polly Wright, finding them dressed in uniform, with a rifle, and ready to leave. They welcome him warmly, and offer to take him in with them, but they also tell him they must be leaving now, or they are going to be late. Jamie invites him to come along with them, and Ben accepts. They all go off together, oblivious to the presence of a little camera on the enclosure of the cottage, turning to follow them.
Polly, Jamie and Ben reach the village, seemingly ignoring the cameras following their steps. As they approach, they are seen from Jamie and Polly’s superior officer to the local Home Guard, corporal Jill Sandbrook, to which they both belong. She moves to reach them, and inform Jamie and Polly they shall be punished for being late at the drill. The four of them proceed (passing near a police box surrounded by square blocks and with a sign deeming it DANGEROUS) and join the rest of the Guard in the church hall, where Ben looks at Jill scraping the names of some people from the list of the corps. She informs him they are men sent to the front; the last one, Jack Shannon, departed that same morning. Jill expresses relief to that, because he was a troublemaker, asking question he shouldn’t ask.
From a side-door, the commander of the Guard, the Doctor, joins the troop. Jill informs him that Jamie and Polly were late, but the Doctor dismisses it, thinking they had a good reason. He is then introduced to Ben, whom he asks whether he’s seen him before. After asking the soldiers to repeat the reasons they are fighting for (which includes friendship, playing cricket on the green, leaving your gate open at night and so on), he dismisses them all without giving them any kind of drill. Ben is puzzled, and openly tells Jamie and Polly his conviction the Doctor is unsuited for command; they agree to talk to the other soldiers about relieving him of his position. As they go away, Jill comes out from the shadow and through an earpiece informs someone of “sedition in the ranks”.
Polly, Ben and Jamie come back to the couple’s cottage, but as they enter it, they found themselves in an empty space with no furniture; they are also paralyzed, and stand unconscious as the electronic device on the gate start spraying artificial smoke. So also do all the other devices set around the village, until all the town is covered in fog. A man in a black suit enters the garden of the McCrimmons’ cottage, and uses a reel of magnetic tape and a box attached to the walls of the cottage to simulate the noises of an air raid; he then says to the unconscious Jamie, Ben and Polly that they will hear the raid and go hiding in their shelter. He snaps his fingers, and this is exactly what happens. The man knocks on the shelter’s door and Polly and Jamie welcome him inside. Polly apologizes to him for not being able to enter the Doctor’s office, but he accepts her apologies. To an astounded Ben, the man reveals that the Doctor is actually a spy, working for the enemy: Polly and Jamie are helping him to find evidence of his betrayal. Though doubtful, Ben agrees to join. The man then orders him to look into his eyes and tells him he will do what he says, because he is “the Master”.
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- Polly / Narrator - Anneke Wills
- Jamie / The Doctor - Frazer Hines
- Ben Jackson - Elliot Chapman
- The Master - James Dreyfus
- Jill Sandbrook - Molly Hanson
- Robert Collins - Brian Murphy
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- Elliot Chapman confirmed that this story would be his last in the role of Ben Jackson as he did not wish to play the role in more stories than the original actor Michael Craze. Elliot donated his fee for acting in this story to Transgender Youth Charity Mermaids after controversy from James Dreyfus's anti-transgender tweets.
- This is the fourth audio story to place this TARDIS team in a Second World War setting after Resistance, The Forsaken and The Night Witches. However, in the case of The Home Guard, this connection to the conflict is much more tenuous.
- Polly is described as still having short hair, after her haircut in The Macra Terror, but the cover still depicts her with long hair.
- The story was released the same day as the other Series 6 installment, Daughter of the Gods. When the upcoming releases were announced by Big Finish on 18 May 2019, Daughter of the Gods was stated to be the first story in Series 6 while The Home Guard was presented as the second. Vortex magazine presented them in the same way upon publication of #125 on 1 July. However, neither their respective production codes nor the ultimate release order reflect this. Upon release, the Big Finish website listed The Home Guard above Daughter of the Gods while also numbering the former as 6.1 in the range and the latter as 6.2.
- This story was recorded on 8 and 9 August 2017 at The Moat Studios.
- This story was originally released on CD and download.
- The Master uses the Tissue Compressor Eliminator for what is chronologically the first time in the continuity of the series. That weapon will become a significant part of his arsenal in later years. (TV: Terror of the Autons et al.)
- The Doctor mentions the encounter with the Macra. Polly still has short hair. (TV: The Macra Terror)
- The Doctor recalls facing the Master on Destination. He thought the Master was dead. (AUDIO: The Destination Wars)
- The Doctor tries to remind Ben about past adventures, mentioning WOTAN, (TV: The War Machines) the Moon, (TV: The Moonbase) the Macra, who had previously used brainwashing on them, (TV: The Macra Terror) the fish people (TV: The Underwater Menace) and the Yes Men. (AUDIO: The Yes Men)
- By the end of the story, the Master is put on trial for the first time in his life; he will later also be put on trial by the Daleks (TV: Doctor Who). He tries to appeal to an independent court, only for him to be answered that, if he wants, he can be judged by his own people, as it will eventually happen to the Doctor himself. (TV: The War Games)