Roots: The Sound of Music ('one of my favourite things...', 'what are we going to do with her?' - Iris as Maria, mountains, nuns - you get the picture), Summer Holiday (adventures aboard a double-decker bus), The Canterbury Tales (relics and a pilgrimage/quest that begins in Spring), The Lord of the Rings (others are said to be forming 'fellowships', 'my beloved' recalls Gollum's 'my precious'), The lyrics to Jimmy Somerville's 'Coming' from the movie of Orlando (1994) ('we are one, we are joined...' - nb. Magrs has in the past referred to Iris as 'a sort of Orlando'). Iris calls Grayvorn 'Conan the Barbarian'. Katy Manning appears to have based Iris' voice on Su Pollard's Peggy from Hi-De-Hi!, The Evil Dead and Return Of The Living Dead movie series (talking zombies who eat flesh), HellRaiser (a container of an immensely powerful dimensional force, sold in a bazaar)
Intertextuality: Iris supposedly purchased the Relic at a bazaar on the planet Hyspero, which she 'later' visits (most likely still in this incarnation) and meets the eighth Doctor in Magrs' BBC Book The Scarlet Empress. The Doctor refers to Iris as a cabaret star (Magrs' fourth DW-centred Iris book Mad Dogs and Englishmen covers this.)
Double Entendres: 'I had an appointment - a sticky one, with the Mother Superior'
The Doctor to Grayvorn re the nuns: 'Let's go and knock them up.'
Dialogue Triumphs: Grayvorn's description of the Doctor: 'Mortifiying for me, a warlord of the highest self-appointed order, having his horse drawn by some foreign sandy-haired devil in striped trousers, who wore some sort of vegetable pinned to his lapel.'
Mother Superior to Iris: 'You have bottles under your bed' 'Only empty ones...'
Technobabble: According to Iris, when the TARDIS travels in the Vortex, it travels through interstitial gaps. The Doctor says there is no time to debate temporal probability.
Continuity: This story takes place for the Doctor during the latter events of 'Frontios', while he is dropping the Gravis (described by Grayvorn as 'a huge and malevolent slug') off on Kolkokron. Tegan, complaining of the journey being interrupted, has remained in the TARDIS. From there the Doctor has been with Grayvorn, whom he met in a nearby village, for two days (he then spends more days with the others traveling to the Relic).
Grayvorn's home is a swampland, with houses of reeds huddles beside boles of mountainous trees. Living there are pallid phlegmatic people, terrified of lizards. Grayvorn was led away by a slavery, making him a bond-slave until he was old enough to murder his master and make slaves of his own. Grayvorn knows he is tied up in the destiny of Excelis. Whilst on the Bus, Grayvorn is taken into a possible future of Artaris [thousands of years thence], where there is nothing but a barren wilderness, blackened and ruined. Creatures identified as living on Artaris include the sabre tooth (which nests), though creatures that sound like chimpanzees may be heard in the swamp. The planet's highest mountain is Excelis, which hosts a nunnery near its peak. There, the nuns worship 'the goddess' (there are many gods on Artaris, and a concept of Heaven and Hell also exists). Their library, which contains many texts from 'the dark time' has ninety-seven steps. The Zombie King describes the nuns as 'witches', which may explain both the Mother Superior's knowledge of the Relic, and Sister Joelene's 'power' with which she destroys him. Anyone who is anyone lived high up on the perilous mountain sides. Villages cling to the slate slopes. The air is thin and poisonous, driving the villagers slightly mad. Every year there is a festival featuring sacrifices (including people) to the Goddess who left the Relic (Iris!) intended to bring the Relic back. The festivals have been getting worse each year.
Iris has been at the nunnery for a month, though she doesn't recall the reason for her having arrived, only that it may have been the result of some penitent desire. She suffers from vertigo, enjoys a song, a drink and a smoke, and usually wears sturdy boots and a woolen coat. Her TARDIS is in the shape of a number 22 double-decker bus, ostensibly chartered for Putney Common. Its chameleon circuit clearly doesn't work ('at least mine has wheels' she tells the Doctor), and isn't as dimensionally transcendental as other TARDISes. Additionally, its defense systems don't work and its dematerialisation circuits are highly unreliable and virtually non-functioning [presumably the arrival on Artaris was one of its last functioning jumps, perhaps only going there because it had visited the planet earlier]. It contains a small kitchen, a chaise lounge, a drinks cabinet, (the location of which the Doctor is aware), and a bazooka on the luggage rack. Iris regards the ship as somewhat alive and never drives it without a drink (eek!). In her time Iris has tried sweet talking great big brutes of men. She is partial to sausages.
The Relic is in the form of a patterned, gold lame clutch purse or handbag, apparently comprising a link to Artaris' heaven and hell and the souls of all of its dead. Iris purchased it on Hyspero (see: 'Intertextuality'), and accidentally left it on Artaris 'years ago' in her time line (it isn't said which incarnation she was in at the time, only that she was 'young and drunk'). By comparison, the Zombie King says it has been on the world for 'thousands of years'. The coming of 'the Warlord, the Hag, the Nun and the Ancient One' was foretold. When Grayvorn looks into the Relic, he sees the afterlife, the souls who would ever live and die. He bathes in their hopes and dreams and desires, in all the good they would accomplish and all the wickedness too. Catching a glimpse of his part in that future history, his mortal mind is lost. The Doctor thinks the Relic is some kind of weapon.
The Doctor always lets out a loud groan when he meets Iris. He has seen the kind of fevour over things like the Relic before - usually it turns out to be over a statuette or a vase and everyone goes home disappointed. The Doctor acknowledges he has tampered with a few threads of history and has come to regard his fourth incarnation as somewhat reckless and irresponsible. He became more circumspect and soul searching after the death of Adric.
Untelevised Adventures: Iris recognizes the Doctor in his current incarnation, having hosted him one Christmas aboard her bus, where he also brought along Adric, Nyssa and Tegan. This is confirmed by the Doctor, but unconfirmed by him, their previous meeting was apparently in the diamond mines of Marlion where they faced the Daleks.
Location: The planet Artaris, Spring.
Links: 'Logopolis' ('I saw my Watcher'), 'The Five Doctors', 'Earthshock', 'Frontios'.
The Bottom Line: The Iris (and Magrs) we know, somewhat toned down. This is Big Finish's take on Iris, imbuing her with a less abrasive, less controversial personality, and helped considerably by the so-far absurdly boorish Grayvorn (a wonderful departure for Anthony Stewart Head) and an equally ironic and meditative Doctor, played to perfection by Davison. Not all of us like Iris in the books, but we liked her a lot here. The story is slight, but the comedy elements for the fifth Doctor are most welcome. An intriguing start.
THE IRASCIBLE IRIS WILDTHYME
Just who is Iris Wildthyme? 'Excelis Dawns' suggest that while she can regenerate and has a TARDIS, she may not in fact be a true academy-reared Gallifreyan Time Lord, in one instance dismissing the discoveries of both miracles by 'your lot' to the Doctor (in The Scarlet Empress she claims to have come from a matriarchal house of Aunts in the southern mountains of Gallifrey) although she does refer to Gallifrey as 'our world' and claims that the Vortex is the natural habitat of the Doctor, her and their kind. More recent adventures have effectively distanced Iris further from Gallifrey, placing her origins in the murky realm known as the Obverse, a separate dimension which may or may not be Iris' true home. Iris' integrity could be said to be somewhat spurious itself, as she claims to have shared in a good many of the Doctor's adventures, and had equivalents of her own. Such escapades mentioned here are, formerly, The Web Planet, The Three Doctors (in which Omega wasn't banished to a universe of anti-matter, but a bed and breakfast in Bournemouth), Genesis of the Daleks, and The Invasion of Time. In her own version of The Five Doctors (which is referred to in Find and Replace), she and six other of her selves met Mechanoids, Voord and Zarbi in the Death Zone before confronting Morbius in the Dark Tower. This adventure is also mentioned in The Scarlet Empress detailing Iris' meeting of her next and sixth 'Barbarella' persona, and broadening the scope of monsters to Ice Warriors, Ogrons, Sea Devils and Quarks (the 'good job they were only the rubbish monsters' comment is repeated here). The description of her bus and its apparent destination (Putney Common) come from the same book, as does a claim that she was present during the Great Fire of London (surely a reference to The Visitation). Iris has her own audio series, accompanied in her TARDIS by first Tom and later Panda, involving more adventures uncannily similar to the Doctor's including The Two Irises (The Caves of Androzani) and The Panda Invasion (Doctor Who). Notably in these latter audio adventures it would appear efforts have been made to muddy the connections between Iris and Gallifrey with references to the Obverse.
Through her other incarnations (the aforementioned 'Barbarella' and club singer 'Brenda' from Mad Dogs and Englishmen Iris had her own companions in Jenny, a 'butch dyke' traffic warden, and gay negro Tom (initially in Paul Magrs' BBC Book Verdigris, and thereafter in Wildthyme on Top and The Devil in Ms Wildthyme) as well as Panda, who continues to be her primary audio companion. To date she has met Jo Grant (Verdigris, Find and Replace), Sarah Jane ('Old Flames' from the collection Short Trips) Adric, Nyssa and Tegan (to whom she doesn't appear to have taken a liking), as well as (subsequently) Turlough (mentioned in The Scarlet Empress) and Sam (The Scarlet Express). She claims the Doctor proposed to her at least three times (in The Scarlet Empress he says she once did in another body, in Venice - this may be in part confirmed as being his third incarnation recalled during The Wormery). She claims to meet the Doctor first in The Web Planet in Excelis Dawns, in The Scarlet Empress she claims to have met him before his hair first turned white.