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The Wrath of the Iceni

Released March 2012. 2 episodes

Writer: John Dorney
Director: Ken Bentley

Roots: Noel Coward's Private Lives (the Doctor recalls Coward's description of Norfolk "Very flat, Norfolk." Wherever I lay my hat (That's My Home) The Doctor mentions Moby Dick and Oscar Wilde. Boudicca compares herself to Invidia, the goddess of jealousy and envy.

Goofs: Pacquolas mentions watching fights in the Colosseum, the construction of which did not begin until 72 AD, twelve years after the events of this story.

Dialogue Triumphs: "Bravery is all very well and good, but it does rather lower one's chances of progeny. That's why you never meet anyone named Mr. Daring ,or Mr. Reckless, or Mr. Insanely-Irresponsible."

"If there's one thing I can't stand in this universe, it's Morris dancers. They're right up there with Daleks and Cybermen."

"Don't we get a choice? I do so hate a set menu"

The Doctor's insult to Caedmon: "I'll say what I like, you verminous flocculent perfittent mongrel!"

Continuity: Leela can kill a man a hundred ways. She says her name has no meaning (c/w Companion Chronicles - Intertextuality?). She and the Doctor can each ride a horse

Links: The Renaissance Man (the Morovanian Museum) The Doctor refers to Houdini (see: box-out). His reference to disliking Morris dancers may indicate his brush with them in The Daemons. The Doctor's suggestion to Leela that they visit the 21st century leads into Energy of the Daleks.

Location: AD 60 (17 years after the Roman Invasion)

The Bottom Line: 'Let us ride into history!'

By now, a straightforward historical with a well-played point of conflict (Leela's refusal to play the Doctor's game at honouring established history) and for the Doctor a simple means of escaping the consequences (he lies.) What elevates the story is Dorney's use of Leela and her deliberate contrast with Boudicca (her sense of shock at the slaughter of the aged and defenceless is a prime scene), and the framing device of heroes living within tales. Mature, economical and uncomplicated, and once again, the perfect story for its length.

WHO AND HOUDINI

As hinted in various stories including and since Planet of the Spiders, the Doctor has in his past a period of time spent in the company of famous illusionist, magician and escapologist Harry Houdini. In fact, Houdini was among these much more, including an aviator and adventurer. It's not difficult to imagine the Doctor being drawn to such a personality, particularly the sceptical Third Doctor (if we assume this incarnation to be the first to encounter Houdini) who shares in The Daemons a predilection for debunking charlatans and spiritualists.

On several occasions the Doctor attributes a knack for escapology to his time 'training' with Houdini - in Planet of Spiders he employs Houdini's famed trick of tensing muscles whilst being tied up (to later relax them and offer looser bonds) to the man, and in The Mind's Eye the Fifth Doctor uses lock-picking tricks gleaned from Houdini to free himself. This knowledge would appear to be incomplete, however, as the same Doctor laments not having listened to Houdini (or paid more attention to his instructions?) on an earlier occasion and similar circumstances (The Church and the Crown). The Sixth Doctor expresses similar regrets in Project: Twilight, but fudges the nature of their friendship (and details of whom taught who) in The Ultimate Adventure. Beyond the audio stories we see the latest example of the Doctor relying on Houdini's insight in Dreamland - once more as a means of escape.

Finally, it should be noted that it is not only the skills of escapology and lock-picking which the Doctor owes to Harry Houdini, but sleight of hand, as revealed in Circular Time: Summer, where he demonstrates a near-convincing French Drop taught to him by the great man. With such an arsenal of tricks and a larger than life history, the meeting of the Doctor and Houdini has the makings of a very interesting adventure.

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