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The Peterloo Massacre was the two hundred and tenth story in Big Finish's monthly range. It was written by Paul Magrs and featured Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor, Janet Fielding as Tegan and Sarah Sutton as Nyssa.

Publisher's summary[]

"They say there'll be thousands pouring into Manchester tomorrow. From all over the county, north and south. It'll be a piece of history. People will remember this!"

Lost in the smog of the Industrial Revolution, the TARDIS crashes four miles south of Manchester, in the grounds of Hurley Hall – a grand mansion belonging to a local factory owner, a proudly self-made man. But while Hurley dreams of growing richer still on the wealth of secret knowledge locked up in the Doctor's time and space machine, his servants hope only for a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. His young maid Cathy, for instance, whom Nyssa learns is looking forward to joining the working people's march to St Peter's Field, in the heart of the city. There'll be speeches and banners and music. It'll be like one big jamboree...

Or so she thinks. For the city's establishment have called in their own private militia, to control the crowd. One of the darkest days in Manchester's history is about to unfold – and the Doctor, Nyssa and Jovanka are right in the thick of it.


Part one[]

The TARDIS, carrying the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa, gets taken off course after a heavy dose of smog interferes with its systems during travel and crash-lands near Manchester. They are found by Cathy Roberts, William Hurley and his father Hurley. Cathy discusses the event with her father Roberts and he forbids her from going to the protest tomorrow, citing behaviour like this is leading her to strange and dangerous situations.

After getting some rest, they wake up and meet industrialist and engineer Mr Hurley, who learns about the TARDIS (which he is told is a ship) and gets some men to bring it back to his estate, interested in it for his own ends though. The TARDIS is heavily damaged and the Doctor informs Tegan and Nyssa privately that the self-repair will take a day before they're ready to go.

Hurley offers the Doctor a tour of his factory who, intrigued, agrees and brings Tegan along while he asks Nyssa to stay with the TARDIS in case it needs some assistance in its self-repair. Inside the factory they learn Hurley is employing children and one of them gets injured and trapped in one of the machines, and the Doctor, ignoring Hurley's warning, goes down to the factory floor to save him. Cathy meets Nyssa but is told off by Mrs. Hurley who then introduces herself to Nyssa.

The Doctor manages to save the boy much to Hurley's annoyance and attempts to treat him despite Hurley's insults and indifference, preferring to simply dismiss him. Tegan volunteers to head into town to look for medical supplies for the Doctor since Mr Hurley doesn't keep them around for his employees and she is unwillingly accompanied by William Hurley while the Doctor says that he and Mr Hurley need to discuss the way his factory is run.

Mrs Hurley finds out about the march that Cathy intends to go on tomorrow and dismisses her and while Nyssa tries to defend her and calm the situation, Mrs Hurley kicks her out as well. The Doctor, in his discussion with Hurley, discovers the chronometer was badly damaged and that they're not 1816 like he thought, but in 1819, on the eve of a very dark day in history...

Part two[]

The Doctor is dismayed to discover they've landed in the hours leading up to the Peterloo Massacre and his friends have gone out to wonder freely before the event is about to take place, putting themselves inadvertently in grave danger. Tegan and William Hurley argue about the state of the city and the poor people as their views are completely opposite. Cathy takes Nyssa back to her house and meets her baby brother Peter. Cathy talks about her hardships and they compare backgrounds after which she tells her that there will be a large gathering tomorrow and convinces her to come. It turns out William Hurley is an officer in the private defence force/militia, a force that is funded by his father's factory.

The Doctor meets Mrs Hurley who explains she has fired Cathy and dismissed Nyssa. Nyssa, after listening to Cathy, agrees to come out with her to the protest tomorrow. Tegan is locked up after being found by Captain Walton and accused of being a saboteur and that William Hurley lied about his position, being a lowly lieutenant.

The Doctor goes to Cathy's house and meets her father who tells him she's likely to be found at the big gathering taking place and he runs off. He bumps into William Hurley on his way with his friend, investigative journalist Thomas Tyler. He explains what happened to the Doctor and the Doctor joins him in the carriage back to the estate to check on Nyssa. Nyssa is gone and the Doctor demands that they go into town before something bad happens, despite being reassured by William Hurley nothing can and will.

Nyssa and Cathy join the protestors and as they walk, she learns that her baby "brother" Peter is actually her son and she was arrested the previous year for trying to give out advice to women about unwanted pregnancy, on charges that she was distributing propaganda. The Doctor manages to find and get to Tegan in time and explains to her that they need to leave immediately as they are about to witness the Peterloo Massacre...

Part three[]

Tegan and the Doctor encounter Reverend Small who explains he has come to quell the gathering protest by reading out the riot act. The Doctor explains to Tegan that this is how the event escalates, that if the protest doesn't disband after hearing the act then the cavalry can be called in to "handle the situation". Small begins reading in a place that no one can hear him. William Hurley, with his father, asks what Small is doing and Mr Hurley explains he's reading out the riot act. William argues that no one can hear and that it's not fair but Mr Hurley takes no notice, telling him he has to do his job.

Nyssa gets anxious but Cathy is excited. William Hurley finds and tells the Doctor what's going on, telling him he had no idea this was the plan and he refuses to take part in the yeoman's riot quelling. Thomas Tyler notices the yeoman gathering and tries to convince Walton that it's too dangerous to use horses as the crowd is too packed but he does not care. Cathy and Nyssa notice the gathering cavalry and become scared. The cavalry draw swords and charge the crowd. Nyssa and Cathy attempt to avoid them. The Doctor tries to find Tegan who has gotten lost in the crowd. He finds Thomas Tyler and berates him for believing the lies of the yeoman cavalry, justifying their "actions" in the most ridiculous means.

Roberts encounters Mr Hurley who berates him for "letting" Cathy attend the protest and tells him to go find the baby he was talking about before it's too late. William and Tegan try to find Nyssa with no luck and William decides that they need to help people escape and head to one of the exits.

The Doctor and Thomas hear field guns and the Doctor, caught up in the moment, is angered that they would fire on their own civilians. He remarks that it's a massacre like Waterloo. A second charge commences by the yeoman. Tegan and William find the Doctor and try to find Nyssa. Cathy is injured in the charge and her baby Peter is killed and Nyssa is dismayed. Walton informs Mr Hurley their job is done. Just then, Nyssa and the Doctor, having spotted and trying to reach her, approach Mr Hurley and she begins screaming at him about how thanks to him Cathy has been trampled and injured and her child is dead and he is to blame....

Part four[]

The Doctor demands a shocked Hurley give them his horse. Tegan finds Nyssa and the Doctor who says they're going to try get Cathy to a hospital on horseback. The Doctor berates Hurley who dismisses him and says they deserved it and walks away, his job done. The Doctor tells Thomas to write down the events and have them published back in London.

In the infirmary they discuss Cathy's recovery with the Sister on duty and when Nyssa remarks why there aren't more injured poor people from the protest there, Tegan explains it's because they can't pay the hospital fees. William, guilt-stricken, says that Cathy's treatment will be covered under the Hurleys' account and explains he's going back to the city to see if he can help anyone else. The Sister sadly explains to Nyssa that even if their costs were covered the poor won't come because the infirmary would be forced to take their names, and their involvement in the event would implicate them, then leaves to go about her duties. Nyssa explains to Tegan that a great change seems to have come over William Hurley, and she suspects it's not because of the events of today, but that Cathy mentioned the two were childhood friends and grew up together and she strongly suspects that her dead child, Peter, is William Hurley's son.

The Doctor and Thomas Tyler argue about how he will report the events and after a stalemate, the Doctor wishes him luck as he promises he will try to report what he can. Roberts arrives at the infirmary and bumps into William Hurley, who tells him he needs to settle "another" account, leaving a bewildered and confused Roberts. Roberts heads inside the infirmary and talks with Nyssa and Tegan, informing them of his recent encounter with William. Roberts takes over standing by for Cathy and Tegan and Nyssa run off to stop William Hurley, convinced he's going to murder his father.

Mr Hurley, distraught by his actions, talks and argues with Walton, explaining he is going home, fed up with the events and beginning to reconsider his stance on the recent events turning down the invitation to celebrate the "success" with the other cavalrymen.

Tegan and Nyssa find the Doctor and explain they need to stop William before something else happens. William encounters Thomas on his way home, and Thomas invites himself on William's horse since he was heading there to pick up his luggage before heading back to London. He says he also wants to give Mr Hurley his praise. They head off. Mr Hurley arrives home distraught over the massacre and talks to Mrs Hurley, explaining that Cathy's "brother" (unaware of the reality) was killed. Roberts talks with Cathy and she tearfully reveals his death, of which Roberts was already aware. He reinforces that they need to keep their head down and she must stop participating in these events, but Cathy feels differently, saying that there are other "Peters" in this world who need to be brought up in a better world and they need to fight for it.

William and Thomas arrive home and he confronts his father by drawing his sabre. The Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan arrive and see that the William Hurley has already got there first. They get inside just in time to stop William from stabbing his father. Thomas Tyler prepares to leave to report the falsified story and the Doctor tries to convince him otherwise, to no success. Nyssa, angered, reveals to Mr and Mrs Hurley that the child was William Hurley's and they were responsible for the baby and her, which William finally fesses up to. Mr Hurley breaks down but the trio slip out before they are drawn into the family conflict.

The Doctor explains to the two that this is a fixed point in time and its effects will ripple through history with lower class citizens fighting against the oppression by the rich to improve their living conditions. They arrive at the newly self-repaired TARDIS and an upset Nyssa goes inside without a word while Tegan and the Doctor reflect on the day's events.




  • This story was recorded on 6 and 7 July 2015 at The Moat Studios.
  • The music features vocals by Suzanne Procter.
  • The Doctor sprains his ankle, a reference to the cliché that companions would frequently twist their ankles in the classic series. Here, it is the Doctor who suffers this fate. The Eighth Doctor also sprained his ankle in Magrs' 1998 novel The Scarlet Empress.
  • This story was originally released on CD and download.
  • The Doctor uses the phrase "tempus fugit", which is Latin for "time flies".


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