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The Land of the Dead was the fourth story in Big Finish's main range. It was written by Stephen Cole and featured Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor and Sarah Sutton as Nyssa.

Publisher's summary[]

Landing in Alaska, the Doctor and Nyssa encounter a group of people in a most unusual house, cut off not only by the harsh climate but by their individual secrets and obsessions.

Millionaire Shaun Brett is utilising chunks of the local area to construct a shrine to his dead father. But when deadly creatures start roaming outside, and a terrifying discovery is made inside the house, the Doctor realises that Brett has unleashed an unimaginably ancient force.


It's 1964, briefly at least, and the Fifth Doctor has just recently left Tegan Jovanka at Heathrow Airport in the wake of Adric's untimely death. Travelling alone with Nyssa, he materialises the TARDIS in the icy north of Alaska. The TARDIS seems to have a mind of its own, locking in on an odd energy source and disappearing back into the time vortex; it rematerialises in the same location, but thirty years in the future, in 1994. Here it does land, and the Doctor and Nyssa find themselves chased by a dangerous creature across the tundra to an unusual house and an odd group of individuals.

Multi-millionaire Shaun Brett has made a fortune in Alaskan oil, but at a price: the death of his father in 1964. He is now building and furnishing the house—sourced from local materials, which is a desecration in the eyes of the local natives—as a shrine to his father's memory. He is matched with Tulung, a half-Koyukon native hired by Brett to liaise with the locals, whose father died in the same incident as Brett's father. Each blames the other's father for the tragedy. Brett is assisted by Gaborik, another Kolyukon, who is secretly sabotaging the work so as to ensure his own continued employment and is also stealing pelts from the house to sell. Also on site is Monica Lewis, an interior designer who has been working at the site for three years, crafting the interior of the house.

The creatures—for there are more than one—are found to consist of only bone, and ancient, mostly-fossilised bone at that. They are held together by a bio-electric field, which seems also to be their weapon, as it exerts damaging effects on the minds of those around it—especially Nyssa, who seems to be particularly harmed, although not controlled by the effect. The Doctor determines that the creatures are much older than the dinosaurs, although still somehow living; they date, in fact, to the Permian era, and thus he nicknames them "Permians". Further, they consume sources of energy, including living beings, as revealed when one of them manages to kill and devour Gaborik.

The situation devolves, as Brett and Tulung each try to confirm their own version of history—and discover that Nyssa, somehow, was there, when she identifies the plane she witnessed in 1964. With the Permians' electric field affecting his mind, Tulung decides that Nyssa is supernaturally powerful, and kidnaps her to protect himself and Brett from the creatures as they make their way to the site of their fathers' deaths. Once there, Tulung discovers the truth: That their fathers unearthed a Permian and were attacked—but that Brett's father fled in the plane Nyssa witnessed and left Tulung's father to die. He defeated the Permian but died in the process, and his remains are still on the ground inside the dig site. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Monica are forced to battle the monsters in the house and escape via a shortcut, arriving at the dig site.

Brett refuses to believe the truth about his father and attempts to destroy the Permians with dynamite, sacrificing himself in the process. However, the attempt reveals that they are vulnerable to fire. The Doctor and the others rig the house to burn, then trap the creatures inside and burn it to the ground. With the threat eliminated, Monica and Tulung—now free of the field's influence—leave in the site's transport, and the Doctor and Nyssa depart in the TARDIS.



  • The Doctor notes, a little defensively, that several elements of the TARDIS are not working quite as well as they should, particularly the visual sensors and audio circuits.
  • Tulung was born in Alaska in 1954 to an archaeologist from Colorado and a Koyukon woman.
  • Shaun Brett has stocked his artificial habitat with sea lions.


Map of Brett's Monument ground floor featured in the CD inlay.

  • The cover image shows an adapted image of Joseph Merrick's skull.
  • The inner pamphlet includes a map of the base, designed to help the listener to follow the action.
  • This is one of the few Big Finish Productions audios to be originally released on cassette tape as well as on CD. It is now available as a download only.
  • This audio drama was recorded on 24 and 25 July 1999.
  • This is the first Big Finish audio release of the 21st century.
  • It is further notable for being one of only two performed Doctor Who stories set in Alaska, the other being the audio story Lurkers at Sunlight's Edge.
  • This story is set between Time-Flight and Arc of Infinity. Dialogue suggests it takes place shortly after the events of Time-Flight.
  • Unusually for a Fifth Doctor story, this uses the Delia Derbyshire arrangement of the theme music rather than the Peter Howell arrangement.

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