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159a 'The Fearmonger'

CD and audio cassette adventure released February 2000, 4 episodes

Writer: Jonathan Blum
Director: Gary Russell

Roots: The X-Files episode 'Folie A Deux' (in which one man can see the 'monsters', and convinces Mulder to see them as well). Taxi Driver, Talk Radio (Mick Thompson is an amalgam of several US talk-radio hosts). Ace recites 'Tweedledum and Tweedledee' from Through the Looking Glass to Walter. Monopoly (the Doctor's UN pass is said to have a 'get out of jail free' on it). Contrary to UK reviews of the time, Sherilyn Harper's character and politics are not based on any British politicians (rather, an Australian one - the line 'please explain?' used by Harper was also frequently employed by this politican), Iain M. Banks' Consider Phlebas (the 'Jinmoti of Boslen II' - also likely fictional in that story). The Doctor in refusing to be responsible for the death of every sparrow evokes the book of Luke. Star Trek's 'Wolf In The Fold' (a non-corporeal creature that feeds on fear which hides within a human host) & 'Day Of The Dove (a similar being that stimulates violent emotions in order to feed). Harper is based loosely on right wing nationalist Australian politician Pauline Hanson.

Intertextuality: Ace's last name, unrevealed in the TV series, was introduced in Kate Orman's New Adventure Set Piece. According to Jonathan Blum, Ace and the Doctor's conversation about 'the butterfly effect' relates indirectly to events in the same book. The Doctor's afterthought remark 'and my relatives are very odd' may be a reference to their appearance in the Virgin New Adventure Lungbarrow by Marc Platt.

Dialogue Triumphs: The Doctor:'Just for once I'd like to come up with a very good plan that doesn't involve lots of last minute rewiring'.

Ace deconstructs the first 15 years of Who monsterdom: 'It's a Fearmongoid from the planet Fearmongos'

The Doctor goes self-referential with audio: 'No-one ever needs to know I'm here unless you talk to me".

Roderick on the Doctor: 'Isn't this the point where you usually arrive in the midst of chaos and sidle into the good graces of the authority figures when they're not paying attention?'

Continuity: The New Britannia Party is a right-wing political party in opposition to the (presumably left wing) Labour Party, and is led by the charismatic Sherilyn Harper. Her personal assistant Roderick Allingham was previously in 'The Ministry', and knows of C19 and the Doctor ('a rogue element'), and via his influence with the UN, likely UNIT also. The Doctor's private UNIT files seem to have been compromised prior to this story, as both Stevie and Walter know of him and at least his hypnotic powers (see 'The Fires of Vulcan'), if not also his 'black op' activities for UNIT back into the early 1970s. Active street gangs/hate groups of the era include Black Lightning (responsible for recent stabbings), the White Wolves (who have been involved in bombings) and of course the United Front. Johnny Holloway, a musician yet to find major fame, plays at the Blue Note café. The High Radiation Beryllium Laser guns used in this story were based on a prototype being worked on whilst the Doctor was still with UNIT. It won't be banned (as they are on all civilised worlds) for another 20 years.

The 'fearmonger' has no real name or home world, although both Ace (see above) and the Doctor offer pithy suggestions (the 'Jinmoti of Boslen II' being a suitable previously victimised civilisation). It is a psychic parasite, feeding on sensations of paranoia, fear and anger and suggesting phantasmagoria in its victims. Legends claim that it was created by an alien race using various psychic energies to inspire group emotions and thereby unite their people. When the civilisation died out, the creature left its home world, all equivalent emotion-feeding creatures finding their own new world (Ace wonders which one got lust), the fear-feeding one eventually found Earth. Though it seems to have no true physical presence, it can manifest itself as a glowing blob of energy, able to physically interact with its environment and 'shooting' attackers with emotional energy to provoke fear (and potentially enough power to render their victims mindless). It may be 'earthed' by metal objects. It is a parasite by nature, changing hosts when the original dies.

Ace's real name is Dorothy McShane. Another of her old friends is revealed, Paul Tanner (more of a friend of a friend), a hacker. It has been 15 years since Ace disappeared from Perivale.

The Doctor once more juggles in this story. Ace says he makes great omelettes.

Links: The Doctor quotes his first incarnation from 'The Five Doctors' ('At my age there's very little to be afraid of'), 'Remembrance of the Daleks' ('No Coloureds signs in 1963...'), 'Time Flight' (C19). Ace's 'pull the trigger' challenge to Alexsandr is a reference to the Doctor's in 'The Happiness Patrol'. Ace's line ''Pakis Out' signs and petrol bombs in my time' is a reference to her friend Manisha in 'Ghost Light'

Future History: Laser guns are used by security forces at New Britannia's rally. (see: 'Continuity' - the author's intention was that these were the lasers seen in 'The Seeds of Doom').

Location: London, (including the Mile End Amphitheatre) 2004, 15 years since Ace's disappearance from Earth. The adventure spans three weeks and the university holidays (the Doctor mentions these upon meeting Walter, yet student demonstrations occur during episode three).

The Bottom Line: 'History can sort itself out'

After years of a continuation of the seventh Doctor and Ace in print, 'The Fearmonger' returns to the series looking forward and backward at the same time. Essentially, many of the Cartmel ingredients are here: an Earthbound location, no TARDIS, the Doctor opening the story in the thick of his own agendas, and his young companion only a few steps behind him. As with 'Whispers of Terror' there's some clever play on the audio medium (and its audience) but with its dialogue coming in thick, fast, sometimes heavily accented chunks, repeat listenings are to be recommended.

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