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135k 'The Veiled Leopard'

CD audio adventure released March 2006, 2 episodes

Writer: Iain McLaughlin and Claire Bartlett
Director: Gary Russell

Roots: Ace mentions Upstairs Downstairs 1960s heist and spy movies, particularly Ocean's Eleven and The Pink Panther. The soundtrack references Panther as well as Mission Impossible (Ace imitates the Doctor, saying "your mission, should you choose to accept it...") and 'Little Green Bag', made famous more recently by its inclusion in Reservoir Dogs. Ace quotes Kung Fu, calling Hex 'Grasshopper', while Hex refers to England's 1966 World Cup victory and the Carry On films. Pretty much everyone mentions James Bond in some form. Leslie Phillips ("Ding-dong!")

Dialogue Triumphs: Ace: "I'm from the Perivale Smiths - we work in futures"

Continuity: The Veiled Leopard is one of the most prized diamonds in all the world, larger than both the Kohi-Noor and Jewel of India. Having been owned by royal families "for millennia", it is so-called because of its clarity, which is said to make it seem to glow, and the bronze spots through its body, resembling the markings of a leopard. The Veiled Leopard is also not technically a diamond but a data recorder for an unnamed civilisation from a dying planet ten thousand years ago (Ace thinks the planet's sun may have gone nova, but doesn't remember). Without the ability to escape their world and far into space the civilisation encoded a crystal with all the information required to recreate their world and its life forms on a new planet. The crystal was then dispatched, but whilst being transported its ship was destroyed by other races seeking the encoding technology. The Doctor (presumably the Seventh) rescued the crystal, but due to the nature of the data store was unable to carry it through time to its destination. The Leopard was instead and for its safety left in the ownership of royalty on a 'backwater world', i.e. Earth until such time as it could be safely brought to its intended destination..

'Janus' is the name of an infamous cat burglar who has targeted the homes (usually inhabited as he prefers) of the rich and well-to-do of Britain in the last couple of years. The name comes from the calling card he leaves, a symbol of the Roman god - although his notoriety has ensured a number of copycats are also about. Despite his celebrity status, it is assumed by Lily that new has not reached the US papers.

Peri used to watch James Bond films with her real father and pushed her schoolmate Candy Tyler in front of an unwelcome suitor in an attempt to avoid him asking her to the school prom. She has heard of the god Janus

Erimem's father owned the Veiled Leopard, having won it (and the sister of his rival, plus a thousand slaves) as a spoil of war with an unnamed king. He prized it above all he had, including his daughter. After he died Erimem entrusted Fayum to secret the diamond within the embalming wrappings of her father's body, although she acknowledges that grave robbers were active even in her time. She doesn't recognise a Centurion's costume, despite having met one on The Council of Nicea (perhaps the latter was more authentic?), and isn't familiar with the concept of skeleton keys.

The Doctors each display a lack of originality in aliases, giving all of their companions the surname Smith; it appears that here Hex discovers Ace's true first name.

Untelevised Adventures: Prior to the events of this story Peri and Erimem witneses the Doctor arguing with a "kooky little guy in a weird pullover" [The Seventh Doctor] who kept staring at them strangely.

Links: It is generally understood that during this adventure the Doctor is currently in Brisbane with Tegan (The Gathering). It is not apparent where the Seventh Doctor is at this time, although this story allows for at least one solo adventure for the Doctor and for him to rearrange the TARDIS console room (Excelis Decays). Erimem mentions her father and his priest Fayum (Eye of the Scorpion)

Location: The Casino Majestique, Monte Carlo, 1966.

The Bottom Line: A fun, sleight heist, where no-one is as they seem. Episode two is the better, having the effect of making the Fifth Doctor's companions look decidedly amateur compared to Ace and Hex's spit and polish, and the Seventh Doctor's assistants seem to be the better written for it.

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