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The Poison of Peladon was the second story in the Peladon audio anthology, produced by Big Finish Productions. It was written by Lizzie Hopley and featured Alex Kingston as River Song, Jane Goddard as Alpha Centauri and introduced Deborah Findlay as Queen Thalira.

Publisher's summary[]

River Song has infiltrated the court of Queen Thalira in the guise of a high priestess. With rumours swirling that Peladon is on the brink of a republican uprising, River joins forces with her new best friend, Alpha Centauri, to get to the bottom of the mystery


Queen Thalira is praying to Aggedor to heal her ill granddaughter, Solana, whom she is keeping hidden away from the Galactic Federation delegates after a galactic alert was sent to all of Peladon's neighbours. Her chancellor, Gobran, informs her that the Federation, who have failed Peladon in its recent inspections, are going to want stability and a male leader for the planet, offering himself as regent. River Song arrives, known to them as the High Priestess Cantica, and says that the mountain's rumbles are because it is angry with Gobran.

Alpha Centauri and Arcturan Ribble are heading to Peladon and are aware of Father Mendica, a member of the clergy, being sent there by Earth. Ribble, whose people have passed sanctions against Peladon, is concerned about the alleged plague and has had his dome reinforced.

Thalira sends Gobran ahead of her and River, allowing them to talk privately. River says that Gobran feels pressured because he is not used to being outnumbered by women but that he is right to be worried, believing that somebody is indeed trying to ruin Peladon's image. Whilst the Thalira reminds her that it is not River's responsibility to find out who it is, she says that a dear friend was fond of the planet and that she decided to stay to help after visiting to pray for the planet and Thalira. She encourages Thalira and, leaving Solana with the acolytes, they head to meet the delegates.

Present at court are Ribble, Father Mendica and Alpha Centauri, who seems to take an immediate liking to River. The inspection is to begin tomorrow so Gobran escorts Ribble and Father Mendica to their rooms; Alpha Centauri, however, asks River to escort them. The pair flirt. Meanwhile, Thalira returns to Solana at the temple and anoints her with water.

At dinner, Ribble complains of the shuddering of the mountain, which has been occurring for some time due to mining and storms, and suggests that it is recoiling from a republican future, referring to rumours of a republican uprising. River fills Ribble's imbibing tube with an excessive amount of wine and suggests that off-worlders are exploiting Peladon. This is, Father Mendica says, one of the reasons for the inspection. Alpha Centauri suggests to River that Father Mendica is interested in her.

Gobran tells Thalira that River should not be allowed to join the delegates' tour of the mines due to her outspokenness, but Thalira insists that she needs somebody to be "a thorn in Ribble's side". He does not like that River, a woman, had done background checks on the delegates, had accessed his own records and had risen so highly in such a short time. Her father, he says, never mixed politics with religion, something that she admonishes him for bringing up. She reminds him that she is the Thalira and tells him that he and River will both report to her after the tour.

Gobran leads the tour through the mine towards Peladon Dam but, River notes, they are going the wrong way and suggests that she take over, angering him. River and Alpha Centauri discuss the supposed troubles with the people, troubles with River has seen no sign of. At the dam, River, Alpha Centauri and Father Mendica hear voices which River recognises. On the walk back, River correctly determines that Father Mendica was once with Earth Protection Corps and tells him that she knows that he is aware of the blaster strapped to her leg.

The group arrive at the Arch of the Temple of Aggedor and admire carvings of Aggedors. Gobran confirms that there is no need to worry about the Aggedors wandering around the tunnels, only for an Aggedor's growl to frighten the delegates. He shows them a cage containing two Aggedors and tells them that the growls are recordings used as "symbolic tribute". River is concerned about the size of the cage and how the Pels had managed to tame them.

River reports back to Thalira and notes that there is something wrong with each of the symbols of the royal house, i.e. the Aggedors and the heir to the throne. Thalira remembers all of the promises that she made to her father on his deathbed, to trust in herself and to go on to thrive, and believes that she is being punished. River, however, says that the problem is not the gods or the mountain but people.

At dinner, Ribble says that he will have Arcturan geologists visit Peladon to overhaul the Pels' systems, a plan which Alpha Centauri suggests is a front so that the Arcturans might take inventory of Peladon's minerals. Father Mendica suggests that Peladon will need to get rid of the traditional monarchy for its relationship with Earth in its new industrial age, a change which Alpha Centauri insists must come as a result of the people and not be forced upon them. There is, they say, no sign that Thalira is losing popularity.

The delegates meet with Thalira, who asks for their thoughts and questions before the Citadel visit the following day. River arrives with water for Thalira which Alpha Centauri takes and drinks. They collapse, saying that something is wrong with the water, and the delegates accuse River of attempting to poison Thalira. Gobran has River arrested and Alpha Centauri returned to their ship. Ribble points out that River is armed and has her blaster taken away before returning to his ship. Gobran suggests that River has been poisoning Solana with the water at the temple, something that Thalira believes.

Alpha Centauri visits River in her cell, revealing that their constitution is so strong that the poison did little harm; they dropped to the floor deliberately in an attempt to flush out the traitor. River insists that she is innocent and admits that her name is not actually Cantica but Professor River Song. She suggests that somebody is keeping Solana ill to manipulate Thalira and that somebody who once helped Thalira might now be working against her. Using an Alpha Centauri lockpick, Alpha Centauri frees River, who refuses to hide in Alpha Centauri's ship and heads back to the tunnels, telling them to take Thalira to the temple.

River finds that Father Mendica is following her and tells him to come out, revealing that she scanned his Federation credentials and found that they belong to a sixty-five-year-old man. He says that Earth have sent him as he is more capable of dealing with any messy situations that might arise and that his mission is to lessen the Arcturans' hold on Peladon. River still does not trust Father Mendica, but decides to go with him to the tunnel that Gobran had not wanted them to go down.

Thalira refuses Gobran's insistence that she retire to her chambers for her own safety, saying that to leave the throne would be to decrease stability. Gobran again suggests that she make him regent in order to strengthen the monarchy when they are interrupted by Alpha Centauri, who says that Thalira should return to Solana in the temple. Ribble arrives and hears about Thalira's granddaughter for the first time.

River and Father Mendica smell something strange in the tunnels and find that the wailing belongs to the telepathic Subsumers, beings who absorb poison and chemical waste and who have been supplied as slaves by the Arcturans. River decides to drink some of the water to see if it is toxic.

River returns to the throne room with Father Mendica and confronts Thalira about the Subsumers, whom Thalira says she knows nothing about. Ribble too denies any knowledge, although River has learnt that the Subsumers have been used by the Arcturans as slaves for years. Gobran confirms that Ribble had supplied them, but had been shown permits and believed that they were a willing workforce. The water that leaves the dam is taming the Peladonians and was used to tame the Aggedors, who burst into the throne room, wounding Gobran, Father Mendica and Ribble before leaving. The three delegates head back to the ships.

Gobran is dying and tells Thalira and River that the substance in the water is something that his mother gave him to help with sleep and which he wanted River to be blamed for. He dies, telling River to protect the Queen. They head to the temple and find Alpha Centauri there; Alpha Centauri gives Solana dollemberry juice rather than water. River goes to speak to Ribble, who would have the most to gain from a republican uprising on Peladon. Ribble denies releasing the Aggedors and suggests that Thalira might be responsible for the poison; River gives him a head start before she has him imprisoned, having hidden a tracking device in his system.

Father Mendica's ship has departed. Alpha Centauri contacts River from the zoo, where the Aggedors are now in a larger cage and are no longer docile. River finds Father Mendica, having sent his ship off without him, and has him remove his short, revealing that he has the clan tattoos of the Karg Mafia, dissolutionists who wish to spread chaos.

Alpha Centauri informs Thalira that there was an alien trace on the Aggedors' lock, a trace belonging to Father Mendica. Following River's instructions, Alpha Centauri arrives and uses their lockpick to free the Subsumers. The Subsumers kill and absorb Father Mendica.

The inspection is at an end and Alpha Centauri says that she will write a favourable report, including the fact that Thalira will be installing a new chancellor with diverse contacts among the people of Peladon. Thalira plans to be honest with her people and tell them about Gobran poisoning them. River invites Alpha Centauri to join her in hunting down Ribble, but they turn it down, choosing to stay on Peladon. They say goodbye, River telling them to think of her when she hears the sound of bells. There will be, Alpha Centauri says, rather a Pavlovian response.


Uncredited cast[]


  • Gobran is Queen Thalira's chancellor.
  • River is aware of Sarah Jane Smith.
  • References are made to Aggedor.
  • Harangan fowl, which is native to the mountains, is served at dinner. It was King Peladon's favourite dish.
  • The Arcturans have helped Peladon with the water purifier technology for the Peladon Dam.
  • Father Mendica is covered in tattoos.
  • Father Mendica was once with Earth Protection Corps.
  • Alpha Centauri enjoys the dollemberry juice.
  • The lock in River's cell is made of kerazsine.
  • Ribble mentions the Council of Arcturus.
  • Alpha Centauri has a secondary oesophagus which they can close at will.
  • Father Mendica belongs to the Karg Mafia.



External links[]