The Sirens of Time was the first in the series of Doctor Who audio dramas produced by Big Finish Productions. Written and directed by Nicholas Briggs, the four-part story features the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors, with Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy each reprising their roles from the original television series.
Gallifrey is in crisis, facing destruction at the hands of an overwhelming enemy. And the Doctor is involved in three different incarnations — each caught up in a deadly adventure, scattered across time and space. The web of time is threatened — and someone wants the Doctor dead.
The three incarnations of the Doctor must join to set time back on the right track — but in doing so, will they unleash a still greater threat?
A TARDIS arrives on Gallifrey, flown by Coordinator Vansell. He is confronted by security forces, but claims the planet is in terrible danger and demands to see the Lord President, who learns that he is right. Their planet is under siege by an unknown species. Vansell also informs the Lord President that traces of Artron energy have been detected in some form of time distortion - that of the Doctor.
In the Seventh Doctor's TARDIS, things seem to be running normally when suddenly the Cloister Bell goes off. A strange, almost hypnotic sound is heard and the Doctor alters the ship's co-ordinates, immediately wondering why he has done so as the ship lands. A Time Lord tries to communicate with the Doctor, but the signal is cut off before he can reveal his message. The Doctor hears the sound again, coming from outside the TARDIS.
Leaving the TARDIS, the Doctor hears a distant voice calling for help. A girl called Elenya is trapped in quicksand. He tells her not to struggle as he hacks his way through the undergrowth with his umbrella. A mysterious woman appears and laughs at the Doctor. He ignores her and goes to the aid of Elenya. Using his umbrella, he pulls her out of the bog and onto a safe patch of land.
Sancroff, who is a prisoner in the home of the woman, Ruthley, is waiting for her return. She tells him that she hates her job, which is to tend to him and prevent him from leaving. Ruthley reluctantly helps Sancroff into his bed. Speaking through a communicator with guards hovering above the planet, she then lies and tells the guards that there are no visitors on the surface. Meanwhile, The Doctor finds himself locked out of his TARDIS. Elenya explains about her arrival; she is a geologist and her friends, her tutor and her pilot have been killed in a crash on the planet. A ship suddenly breaks through the planet's atmosphere and crashes into the surface.
The Doctor and Elenya walk across the surface to try to find some kind of civilisation. The Doctor spots light from a window, and the two begin to head towards it. More ships come bursting through the planet's atmosphere, including one which crashes very close to where they are walking. Back at Ruthley's house, she communicates with another life form through her communicator, who confirm that they are deploying themselves to the planet's surface.
More ships are crashing down all around the Doctor and Elenya. They investigate one ship's fiery wreckage and find what they initially believe are the remains of the crew. The Doctor deciphers that the creatures are actually in the process of being born. Meanwhile, a security Drudger reports back to Ruthley that they have extinguished the fires from one crashed ship and located two survivors (the Doctor and Elenya). She asks them to kill the two, but the Drudger responds that such a procedure is "not permitted".
The Doctor and Elenya meet up with several Drudgers, who ask them to surrender any weaponry and identify themselves. They then begin a mind scan of the two, which is extremely painful and knocks the Doctor and Elenya out cold. When they awake, they are at Ruthley's house and Sancroff is with them. The Drudgers encounter bio-engineered life forms (the assassins) emerging from the wreckage that the Doctor and Elenya encountered earlier. A Drudger confronts the assassins, who open fire and destroy it. Ruthley gloats to Sancroff that the assassins are here to kill him, as they destroy more Drudgers. Sancroff realises that Ruthley has done a deal with the assassins; he tells the Doctor and Elenya to leave, but the Doctor responds that there is no way for them to leave the planet.
The Drudgers return fire, but nothing seems to be working; they retreat. The assassins are converging on the main building. The Doctor, Elenya and Sancroff enter Ruthley's room, as she goes to tell the assassins where they are; they find live footage of Ruthley speaking to the assassins. They kill her because she would be a "witness". The others learn that Sancroff is (or was) First Knight of Velyshaa; the Doctor tries to create a forcefield, but the creatures find them before he has the chance.
One of the assassins plays a message which brands Sancroff a war criminal, and sentences him to execution. The Doctor informs the assassins that he and Elenya are there by accident; they respond that they have no quarrel with either of them, but that there must be no witnesses, and open fire...
On the merchant ship, the TARDIS arrives and the Fifth Doctor emerges. He's searching for a signal of some kind. It finally locks on and the Time Lords try to contact him. The message is unclear, but they apparently want him to re-enter the TARDIS because time is running out. The Doctor tries the lock, but the ship won't open, he calls for Turlough and Tegan Jovanka, but they don't open the door. A woman by the name of Helen appears. She asks what he is doing on board the ship. Suddenly, there's a large explosion as a gun from the U-Boat hits the side.
Aboard the U-Boat, the Captain sees two survivors, they bring them board. The Captain is surprised that the Doctor can speak German. They are both placed inside a cell. Helen is worried whether the Doctor is maybe a Hun spy. The Doctor is even more worried about his message from the Time Lords. He tries calling to the Germans to free him.
British destroyers are gathering on the surface and so the German Captain decides it is time to escape the area. The Doctor wishes to speak with him. He tries to persuade him that he is actually a German spy and has found secret documents aboard the ship, which is now reduced to wreckage. The Captain does not believe him. He orders Schmidt to return him to his cell.
Back in the cell, Helen watches as Schimdt suddenly become possessed by some force and tries to kill the Doctor, who deduces that it is the Time Lords who are trying to kill him for some strange reason. The Captain arrives and orders Schimdt to be tied to his bunk.
The Time Lord President is unsure of Vansell's actions to try and stop the Doctor. Using someone by time distortion wasn't the best idea. Vansell disagrees and counters that the Doctor must be stopped for the sake of time.
The German commandant can see smoke on the horizon, claiming it is British ships approaching.
In his cell, the Doctor is wondering why the Time Lords want to kill him. He tells Helen that he needs to return to his TARDIS. Helen can sense that it's important to him somehow.
Schmidt is now awake and can hear voices in his head. It is the voice of Vansell and he is telling him to grab a weapon and to kill the Doctor.
The Germans discover that the ship is large and is coming towards them at a speed that they wouldn't be able to match, let alone outrun.
Schmidt has now entered the cell with a gun pointed at the Doctor. The Doctor tries to reassure him that they do not know each other and reasons why he should kill him. The Lord President is still trying to stop Vansell, realising that the Doctor knows what he must do. There's a shot, which the Germans in the control room can hear. The Captain goes to see what has happened.
Helen has managed to take the gun, but Schmidt collapses, a side effect of the time distortion. The Captain and crew arrive, but Helen has them at gunpoint. The Doctor is hoping to discover his ship again.
The Doctor navigates the U-Boat to the position of the TARDIS. He escapes the ship and jumps into the water. The British ships are closing and the U-Boat goes back under.
The Doctor reaches his ship, but has no luck in opening the doors. He is trapped, floating at sea.
more to be added
- The Doctor - Peter Davison
- The Doctor - Colin Baker
- The Doctor - Sylvester McCoy
- Commander Raldeth / Schmidt - Andrew Fettes
- Coordinator Vansell - Anthony Keetch
- The President - Michael Wade
- Elenya / Helen / Ellie / Knight Commander Lyena - Sarah Mowat
- Ruthley - Maggie Stables
- Sancroff - Colin McIntyre
- Commandant / Lt Zentner / Pilot Azimendah / Sub-Commander Solanec - John Wadmore
- Captain Walther Schwieger / Edifice Captain / Knight 2 - Mark Gatiss
- The Temperon / Drudgers - Nicholas Briggs
- Delegate - Nicholas Pegg
- The Kurgon Wonder was created as a result of the Knights of Velyshaa attempting to capture the Temperon.
- The fifth, sixth and seventh incarnations of the Doctor make telepathic contact with one another to apprise all of them of the situation. They trigger it with the spoken command "Contact."
- Tegan Jovanka and Turlough are trapped in the Fifth Doctor's TARDIS when it materialises on the U-20.
- The Sixth Doctor mentions that he knows Hadene Lestrade.
- Coordinator Vansell is a member of the Celestial Intervention Agency.
- The Galactic Wonders Commission decides which objects are Wonders of the Universe.
- The Knights of Velyshaa appear.
- The Temperon is a legendary time beast. It is a "cousin" of the Chronovores.
Theories and concepts
- The Laws of Time (supposedly) stop the Doctor's incarnations from meeting.
Sirens' altered timeline
- The Fifth Doctor accidentally prevents the U-20 from sinking the RMS Lusitania in the Atlantic Ocean on 7 May 1915. Though the First World War was largely unchanged, this allowed Eric Charles Vincent to kill Alexander Fleming in a botched robbery attempt in December 1927 before the biologist discovered penicillin. Without the protection offered by penicillin, Earth fell prey to new strains of meningitis and pneumonia in 1956 and the survivors never developed a space programme. Consequently, the Knights of Velyshaa were not defeated by the Earth Alliance in 3562 as they otherwise would have been.
- This is the first appearance of the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors together.
- Several references to the Audio Visuals audio dramas are made during this story including:
- The appearance of Drudgers, originally robotic servants of Conglomerate who appeared in Conglomerate, The Destructor Contract and Subterfuge.
- The appearance of the Temperons, which first appeared in The Time Ravagers.
- Mention of the Calfedorian Tri-Planetary Alliance, which first appeared in Maenad before being mentioned several times in future stories.
- In episode 3, Helen and the U-boat crew are unable to understand each other, despite the usual application of the Doctor/TARDIS' translation circuit.
- In his synopsis for The Sirens of Time, Nicholas Briggs gave each episode a title: The Knight of Velyshaa, Ship of Destiny, Death of Wonder and Nexus Point/Curse of the Temperon. The overall title was inspired by the book Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut.
- The Sirens of Time was originally released on cassette and CD.
- Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy would all later appear together in AUDIO: Zagreus, AUDIO: The Four Doctors and AUDIO: The Light at the End. Paul McGann appeared as the Eighth Doctor in all three while Tom Baker appeared as the Fourth Doctor in The Light at the End. Furthermore, Baker and McCoy appear in AUDIO: Project: Lazarus, AUDIO: The Wormery and AUDIO: Thicker than Water together.
- This audio drama was recorded on 6 and 7 March 1999 at Crosstown Studios.
- A number of Big Finish mainstays make their first appearances here, including Maggie Stables, who would go on to play Evelyn; Sarah Mowat, who would go on to play Susan Mendes in Dalek Empire, and Nicholas Briggs, who would later voice the Daleks and the Cybermen.
- A documentary, Talkin 'Bout My Regeneration, was released on CD with DWM 279 to promote the series, discussing the genesis of Big Finish, future aims and with clips and interviews from the recording sessions. In July 2014, it was released as a free download on the Big Finish website.
- The first part of this story was offered as a free download with DWM 467, along with a number of other "Part Ones".
- The Fifth and Seventh Doctors previously met each other in PROSE: Cold Fusion and would later do so again prior to the events of AUDIO: The Veiled Leopard. The latter is not actually depicted but is witnessed by the former's companions Peri Brown and Erimem. Peri describes the Seventh Doctor as being "a kooky little guy in a weird pullover." She would later meet him more formally in PROSE: Bad Therapy.
- The Sixth Doctor recalls climbing the Himalayas in 1289 during his first incarnation. (TV: Marco Polo)
- The Knights of Velyshaa are mentioned and a Knight appears in AUDIO: Invasion of the Daleks.
- Vansell reappears in AUDIO: The Apocalypse Element and AUDIO: Neverland. Following his death in the latter story, alternative versions of Vansell appear in AUDIO: Reborn, AUDIO: Disassembled and AUDIO: Forever.
- According to PROSE: Instruments of Darkness, Evelyn Smythe was in the TARDIS while the Sixth Doctor was at the Kurgon Wonder.
- The method by which the Doctors telepathically contact one other ("Contact") was first seen in TV: The Three Doctors.
- Sancroff is mentioned by Kalendorf in AUDIO: Dalek War: Chapter Four.
- Official The Sirens of Time page at bigfinish.com
- DisContinuity for The Sirens of Time at Tetrapyriarbus - The DisContinuity Guide
- Official Talking 'Bout My Regeneration page at bigfinish.com