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159q 'The Angel of Scutari'

CD audio adventure released June 2009, 4 episodes

Writer: Paul Sutton
Director: Ken Bentley

Roots: Tolstoy's Sevastopol Sketches plus the accounts of William Howard Russell (Russell's The Charge of the Light Brigade is quoted at the beginning of the play). Hex describes the British barracks as " like something out of Zulu" Ace calls Hex 'Faceache' after the Jet and Buster comic character, and paraphrases Alice from Through the Looking Glass ("that's three impossible things before breakfast")

Fluffs: Tolstoy seems to say "I am Noel Coward" in episode three.

Technobabble: The Doctor summons the TARDIS using the TARDIS key suspended in a bottle of cooking oil, and covered in a thin solution of saline and Ace's blood, collected from the Doctor's pullover. The residual energy in the key oxidises the blood, turning it into a form of reactive 'compass', pointing out Ace's location measured by relative distance markings (from St Petersburg to Sevastopol) on the bottle.

Dialogue Triumphs: "Just try not to hit anything, there's a good posse!"

Continuity: During the Siege of Sevastopol the TARDIS' outer shell is displaced by the impact of a cannon ball. With its HADS triggered the ship retreats to the Vortex and 'grows' a new shell, still in the form of a Police Box, but white from lack of pigmentation. The original shell, ostensibly made of wood, is washed ashore and used for firewood by British forces. There is a portable nuclear generator in the TARDIS, which is only barely movable by one person. Once recovered the TARDIS can home in on the biometric trace of an occupant (providing they have a twin Time Lord heart beat) to their current spatial-temporal coordinates. It can detect hypersonic impulses in anachronistic locations (as can other time ships, according to the Doctor, although he may say this to warn off Hex).

Ace has read Tolstoy and rides a horse (see: Links). At the beginning of the story she sustains a head injury and two fractured ribs.

Hex studied the story of Florence Nightingale while at school (the CD extras suggest he read a Ladybird book about her), and stumbled upon a career in nursing partially inspired by this (the careers counsellor was visiting that day and it was the only option he could think of - a fellow classmate tried the same thing with his project on Sir Robert Peel, only ending up in borstal after a bungled off licence robbery.) Among some portable medical equipment Hex steals a hypersonic scalpel and sodium pentothal tablets from the TARDIS sick bay.

The Doctor fashions a skeleton key using a stolen gold spoon from the Tsar's collection. During his escape from St Petersburg he breaks his 'Ace detector' (see: Technobabble), inadvertently leaving his TARDIS key behind in this location.

Links: Enemy of the Daleks. The Doctor previously recalled witnessing the Charge of the Light Brigade in Evil of the Daleks. Ace mentions of her prison food that "you wouldn't feed this to a Killoran" (Sutton's Arrangements for War et al). She likens her post-explosion headache to a Dalek having sat on her head. The TARDIS' Hostile Actions Displacement System is set off (The Krotons), The spare TARDIS key kept in a slot above the Police Box 'P' was introduced in Doctor Who. Ace also rode a horse in Survival. The Doctor sets the TARDIS for St Gart's hospital (The Harvest). Hex's story of how he arrived in a nursing career contrasts with that alluded to in Live 34 (although they are not necessarily contradictory).

Location: Scutari Barracks, Uskudar, 17 October (Hex) and Sevastopol, 25 September (Ace and the Doctor) through to 19 November 1854.

Bottom Line: Continuing the occasional trend of placing Hex in war zones to bring out the best and worst in him, the best bits of Angel are the Scouser's coming up against the dirt, ego and folly of war, and discovering to his surprise that this time finding the TARDIS for an easy exit isn't the most favourable option. Sutton does his best to convey the scale of the theatre, and the tricksy time scheme adds to the general confusion in places, but despite a few fumbles there are some great moments among it, chiefly Hex's (and our) discovery of the Doctor's time machine being nothing more than firewood for a demoralised army. And, naturally, the old adage of meeting one's heroes is there too. The cliffhanger ending is almost forgivable, but after this number of stories and with the build-up we've had to date, the pay-off will have to be big to beat this.

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