Roots: I, Claudius. Tacitus's history of the Britain (presumably Agricola?). Nellie the Elephant. Asterix the Gaul. Macbeth ("lead on, MacD- oh, no - that's not yet..."). Mrs Wibbsey hopes her divination chant "didn't go all Henry V". The Dark is Rising.
Goofs: The Doctor describes Mrs Wibbsey's inspection of goat entrails as "scrying", which actually refers to divination using a smooth, reflective surface such as a bowl of water, mirror or crystal ball (his later description of her as a "haruspex" is spot on, however)
Dialogue Triumphs: The Doctor and Mrs Wibbsey: "Who hit me? If anybody was going to argue it would have been her!"
"They're probably intending to eat us or something. How would you feel about being put into a stew?" "-I've been in one since I first met you."
"Your elders do all the deciding around here, don't they? Haven't you ever heard of the Youth Vote?"
"A corpse-strewn copse!"
"There's no such thing as a simpler time. Every age has its complications."
"Hello, I'm the Doctor and this is my curmudgeonly housekeeper Mrs Wibbsey!"
Continuity: The curious mosaic clue originates from a larger work made by a local Briton called Metafix. It was uncovered in 1964 and was then regarded as something of an anachronism, being in a Roman style but beyond the technology and skill of the local Celts. According to the accompanying pages of the history book the tribes of the surrounding area revered a pagan goddess by the name of Wibbsentia.
The previous Boxing Day the Doctor installed a 'souped-up' cordless answerphone for Nest Cottage, including a loud speaker and a cassette for messages. The rear garden of Nest Cottage features a picnic table and is where the TARDIS is temporarily located. The Doctor has been promising her an overhaul for some time. Without certain elements of its spatial geometer the TARDIS can only travel back and forth in time rather than space; the resulting journey can nevertheless be "rough", according to the Doctor. The disparate parts generally resemble multi-coloured Perspex cylinders. In its locker is a duffel coat which Mrs Wibbsey dons. Among the Doctor's personal effects donated by Mrs Wibbsey to the church jumble sale is the Doctor's shaving mirror (Wibbsey says he never uses it). He says there are things in the Cottage "that should never see the light of- [day?]" It is suggested by the TARDIS' lack of spatial movement that the location of the Cottage is in the hills of West Sussex.
Mrs Wibbsey got the verse reading prize at her school. Over the previous Christmas she made a remarkable meal of giblets and gravy from goat offal (according to the Doctor.) She seems unfamiliar with the concept of the Doctor regenerating, but has caught up with current affairs of the day, mentioning terrorism and the global economic crisis. The Doctor has refused to return her to her own time in Cromer, saying there's "nothing" there for her any more.
Besides his sonic screwdriver and the answerphone he made for Nest Cottage, in his pockets the Doctor carries a pocket-sized ordinance map of Roman Britain, a compass, a Cornish pasty with a sell-by date of 12 March 1980 and a timetable for a Martian shuttle bus. He has read Tacitus, but wasn't sure whether to believe all of it, and hasn't yet visited the first century AD in his current body.
Links: This story follows a year on from the closing events of the Hornet's Nest stories, with Mike Yates calling to announce his impending return to the Nest along with Captain the wolfhound.
Location: 'Deepest, darkest" West Sussex 21st century (three days before Christmas — see 'Links'), AD 46.
The Bottom Line: "It's not very clean, history, is it?" "-You should see the future."
A fun return for the Doctor and Mrs Wibbsey, although something of a ramble through Roman Britain than a thrilling adventure. Nevertheless there's enough myste3ry here to keep things going, and the assured return of Mike yates is something to look forward to as well. Best of all, this is more like it with the Doctor and wibbesy in the thick of it, rather than the action being relayed in the past tense. Hopefully a sign of storytelling to come...