The Wrath of the Iceni was the third story in the first series of the Fourth Doctor Adventures, produced by Big Finish Productions. It was written by John Dorney and featured Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor and Louise Jameson as Leela.
As Leela begins to be swayed by the warrior queen's words, the Doctor has to make a decision: save his friend...or history itself?
The Doctor and Leela arrive in a field and begin a long walk towards a wood. Leela inquires why they simply do not return to the TARDIS, but the Doctor states that this is part of her education; to locate natives in the locations they visit and ask questions to learn more of her ancestry.
In the wood, a couple of Romans are being stalked by Boudica on horseback. They slay the horse and threaten her life. The Doctor and Leela arrive at this point, the latter of whom joins Boudica's side much to the former's dismay. Boudica uses Leela's convenient arrival as a distraction so she can slay the two Romans. Upon introducing herself as the ruler of the Iceni, the Doctor immediately gains an urge to return to the TARDIS, which both Leela and Boudica refuse. As thanks for Leela's loyalty, Boudica takes her and the Doctor to her tribe and arranges that they be given food and shelter.
Once they are alone, Leela questions the Doctor's urge to leave in the TARDIS so soon. He tells her about the time period - England had been invaded by the Roman empire 17 years prior to the day which they had arrived in. Boudica's husband Prasutagus, the previous ruler of the Iceni, was one of several tribal rulers in Britain who were bought off by the invading Romans. After his death, he left half of his kingdom to the Roman Emperor Nero and the other half to his daughters. However, the Emperor annexed the entire kingdom. When Boudica objected, she was flogged and her daughters were raped in public. The Doctor then tells Leela that the next day, Boudica intended to attack the nearest town with her tribe, which would result in their massacre. Leela reasons that surely they must prevent this, but the Doctor tries to explain that these events are history and cannot be changed. Leela objects and states that these events aren't history; they are here and now, and here and now she decides that she wants to aid the survival of the Iceni tribe. She loses her faith in the Doctor and flees to Boudica. A cook, Bragnar, had overheard their conversation and enters to talk talk to the Doctor. She can't help but believe his words and thinks him to be a seer. She asks if he can save her tribe but the Doctor tells her that it is their destiny, although he considers that he might be able to save her. He decides to take her to the TARDIS and hopes that Leela will come round to her senses in time to leave with them.
Word gets to Boudica that the Doctor and Bragnar are fleeing the tribe and she considers this a sign of treachery, although Leela tries to convince her otherwise. They set off into the forest on horseback and cut them off. Boudica threatens the Doctor's life, but Leela prevents this by claiming that he sees the future and knows that tomorrows' attack on the town will result in their destruction. Boudica decides that the Doctor and Bragnar are instead to be held prisoner to ensure that she will get information out of him to ensure her victory and survival.
Boudica and Leela overlook the targeted Roman town; Boudica is confident it can be overrun. She insists that the Doctor can be made to give her more information.
The Doctor and Bragnar are tied up in a tent at Boudica’s orders, and lamenting their situation. Bragnar doesn’t wish anyone dead; she just wishes for peace. Boudica returns and checks in with Caedmon regarding the progress of the situation; he wants to torture the Doctor, but Boudica again forbids it. Instead, she intends to use Bragnar to get the Doctor to speak. Inside the tent, Bragnar has grown tired of the Doctor’s banter, when Boudica and Leela arrive; Leela has him untied, but Boudica keeps Bragnar bound. Boudica demands answers about his prophecy of destruction, and how the Iceni will be defeated. When he won’t elaborate, Boudica says she will find her own omens…in Bragnar’s entrails.
The Doctor gives in to save Bragnar’s life. He explains that Camulodunum is sparsely guarded, but that it is a decoy; though the attack there will be successful, Governor Paulinus is laying a trap for the Iceni, with his armies held to the north. When the city is taken, he will return and hem in the Iceni inside the city, then destroy them. Satisfied, she leaves him in the tent, bound again, and orders a reinforcement of her army’s rear guard; she orders the army to prepare to ride. Leela is appalled that she won’t release him, but she insists she has many battles to fight, and will make him serve her for all of them.
Leela returns and confronts the Doctor, but leaves him in the tent. She insists that Boudica is a good woman, and declares that she will ride with the army. To Caedmon’s satisfaction, she tells the Doctor that he must stay and give up his old life and serve as Boudica insists. However, when Leela leaves with Caedmon, the Doctor tells Bragnar that it’s not what she said, but what she did—and what she did, was slip him her knife. The Doctor laboriously cuts his own bonds, then Bragnar’s; he comments that Leela was really telling him to abandon her, not his own life.
The army gathers near the Romans encampment, and prepares to charge, though Leela expresses her doubts. Boudica gives a speech to rally her troops, and leads the charge. The armies engage, and the battle begins.
The Doctor and Bragnar locate a pair of horses, and hurry toward Camulodunum; Bragnar is alarmed, but the Doctor insists he is going to rescue Leela, despite what she asked of him. Meanwhile, Leela is becoming more and more distraught at Boudica’s bloodthirst; she is ashamed to see the Iceni killing the aged, sick, women, and even those who had surrendered. Boudica orders her troops to destroy the city’s temple and the final survivors inside, which include British slaves—Leela protests, as Boudica plans to kill them as well. Leela confronts Boudica, and insists that the woman is fighting not for her country, but for revenge. She declares that the Doctor was right—Boudica is not a good woman, and her battle is wrong. She reveals that she released the Doctor, which Boudica takes as a betrayal. Boudica attacks Leela, declaring that she has “scarce fought an equal”.
The Doctor and Bragnar arrive in the last of the battle, where they meet with Caedmon, who chases after them. Caedmon kills the Doctor’s horse; the Doctor sends Bragnar away for her safety, and confronts Caedmon. Caedmon intends to defy Boudica’s order and kill the Doctor, blaming it on the Romans; but Bragnar doubles back and attacks Caedmon, unintentionally killing him. They set off again to search for Leela.
Leela and Boudica are still battling, as the Doctor arrives. Boudica manages to strike her while she is distracted, but she is not badly hurt. She orders the Doctor not to interfere; and moments later, she gets the advantage. She refuses to kill Boudica, instead leaving her behind. Boudica is undeterred; she refuses to consider herself defeated, and continues the larger battle.
On the road back toward the TARDIS, Leela and Bragnar discuss the battle. The Doctor admits that he didn’t tell Boudica the truth; there was no army coming from the north, and no defeat today. Instead, it was a Roman massacre that took place, just as history had recorded. However, in the future, Boudica will go on to fight other battles, which will lead to her ultimate defeat—not today, but on a day to come, when her pride and arrogance will leave her own army hemmed in to be slaughtered. Leela admits that she may no longer have the stomach for slaughter, leading the Doctor to comment that her education may be progressing after all. At the TARDIS, the Doctor explains how Boudica dies: facing death in battle, she kills her daughters, then poisons herself. Violence brings its own end, it seems. As the TARDIS departs, the Doctor considers that Leela has had enough education for now; it’s time for something different.
Years hence, Bragnar passes on her story to her own daughters as the sole survivor of her tribe.
- The Doctor - Tom Baker
- Leela - Louise Jameson
- Boudica - Ella Kenion
- Bragnar - Nia Roberts
- Caedmon/Festucas - Michael Rouse
- Pacquolas/Man - Daniel Hawksford
- The Doctor refers to Noël Coward.
- The Doctor tells Leela that he hates Morris dancers almost as much as the Daleks and the Cybermen.
- Leela refers to the Roman legionnaires as "men in skirts."
- The Doctor recognises Boudica, the queen of the Iceni, due to her "very, very red hair."
- Pacquolas taunts Leela by telling her that he has seen cats bigger than her slain in the Colosseum.
- Boudica inquires if the Doctor and Leela belong to the Catuvellauni tribe. Leela tells her that she is of the Sevateem, whom the Doctor claims are located "as far north as you can go and then some."
- The Iceni's camp in Norfolk is one day's ride from Camulodunum, the capital of Roman Britain which was formally the capital of the Trinovantes, a tribe which is allied with the Iceni. It is a retirement home for former soldiers, their wives and their children.
- The Doctor tells Leela that the Romans conquered Britain in 43.
- Bragnar wishes that she was back in Venta Icenorum, the Iceni capital in Norfolk. Unsurprisingly, she has never heard of the 19th century novel Moby Dick.
- The Doctor refers to the American escapologist Harry Houdini, whom he claims kept several lock picks on his person.
- Boudica declares that "Andraste rides with us" during her attack on Camulodunum.
- After Bragnar accidentally kills Caedmon, the Doctor tells her that he is "as dead as a dodo. Or he will be, in about 1600 years."
- The Doctor tells Leela and Bragnar that the Roman occupation of Britain would continue for another 350 years after the defeat of Boudica's revolt.
- This audio drama was recorded on 13 September 2011 at Audio Sorcery.
- This story was originally released on CD and download. It's also available to stream on Spotify. It was later broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra's Seventh Dimension, presented by Toby Hadoke, on 30th May 2015.
- This is the first pure historical story in performed Doctor Who to feature the Fourth Doctor.
- A line spoken by the Doctor early in the play, "[Norfolk]'s not flat, it's just wide. Might look level, but you try cycling across it", was inspired by something Terry Molloy said to writer John Dorney during the recording of the Sherlock Holmes story The Reification of Hans Gerber.
- Pacquolas mentions watching fights in the Colosseum. In reality, however, its construction did not begin until 70, ten years after the events of this story take place.
- This story is set between The Talons of Weng-Chiang and Horror of Fang Rock.
- The Doctor refers to their visit to the Morovanian Museum whereas Leela mentions Reginald Harcourt's attempt to drain her mind. (AUDIO: The Renaissance Man)
- The Doctor's hatred of Morris dancers may be due to the fact that he was once almost killed by a group of them in the English village of Devil's End in the 1970s during his third incarnation. (TV: The Dæmons)
- The Doctor again refers to Leela as "Savage". (TV: The Face of Evil, The Invasion of Time; AUDIO: Requiem for the Rocket Men)
- The Doctor once again observes that one person is unlikely to make a difference in the grand scheme of things. (AUDIO: The Foe from the Future)
- Leela tells Boudica that she knows from personal experience that history can be changed. (AUDIO: The Foe from the Future)
- The notion of saving specific individuals from fixed events allowed the Tenth Doctor to save lives during the eruption of Vesuvius in The Fires of Pompeii. Here the Fourth Doctor saves Bragnar alone as he cannot save all the Iceni.
- The Doctor refers to his encounter with Harry Houdini. Prior to their arrival in 1963, his first incarnation and his granddaughter Susan Foreman met Houdini in the United States. Houdini taught the Doctor how to perform sleight-of-hand tricks. (PROSE: The Sorcerer's Apprentice)
- The Doctor refers to the extinction of the dodo in 1681. (PROSE: The Last Dodo)
- The Doctor suggests to Leela that they take a trip to the 21st century. (AUDIO: Energy of the Daleks)
- The Doctor would later return to Norfolk in 2011 in the company of Romana. (AUDIO: Ferril's Folly)
- The Eighth Doctor would later return to Roman Britain in 305 in the company of Charley Pollard. (AUDIO: Seasons of Fear)
- The Tenth Doctor would encounter Boudica once again in the company of Donna Noble when she was taken out of her own time by Momus who wanted her to help lead Planet 12 of the Ridion Alliance into a new age of enlightenment. The Doctor eventually convinced her to return to her rightful place in Earth's history. (PROSE: The Lonely Computer)
- Gaius Calaphilus was among the soldiers who fought "Boudica's wretched Iceni". (PROSE: Byzantium!)
- Leela tells Boudica that her name has no meaning. However, she would later claim that she named after the greatest warrior in Sevateem history. (AUDIO: The Catalyst, Arbitration, The Abandoned)
- The renegade Time Lady Iris Wildthyme claimed that she had also been present at the Siege of Colchester. (AUDIO: The Elixir of Doom)
- One of the Romans' failed attempts to conquer Britain was led by Julius Caesar in 55 BC. (AUDIO: Living History)
- Official The Wrath of the Iceni page at bigfinish.com
- DisContinuity for The Wrath of the Iceni at Tetrapyriarbus - The DisContinuity Guide