Point of Entry

A pox on the plague for closing down The Rose when I’m on the boil.

Kit Marlowe

Synopsis

The 16th Century. Playwright Kit Marlowe is attempting to write Doctor Faustus when a darkness descends on his life, in the cadaverous form of a Spaniard called Velez. The monstrosity is in search of a stone blade that was brought from South America…

After a near-disastrous collision with an asteroid in space, the TARDIS makes an emergency landing in Elizabethan England.

These two events are connected. The Omnim are ready. And the point of entry approaches…

Review

Point of Entry is a good entry into the Lost Stories series for the Sixth Doctor, giving us a pseudo-historical set in the Elizabethan era. It is a fun story, if slightly too long, set in one of my favourite eras of history, and I did really enjoy this one.

Marc Platt has produced something rather wonderful from Barbara Clegg’s pitch, which according to the behind the scenes documentary amounted to a page and a half of A4. It’s a great premise that Platt has added flesh to the bones of, and the biggest flaw is that, at over two hours long, it feels slightly too long for this Lost Stories format and would have been broadcast in a shorter form. I really like the premise that gets the Doctor and Peri involved, where they are rogue asteroid spotting before coming across an asteroid, then the asteroid suddenly changing course to lock onto the TARDIS. This makes for a great and visceral start to the story and got me hooked and for the majority of the story, I remained so. The weakest part is the conclusion: after all this build-up of the devilish Velez and the Omnim growing him to the size of a monster, he is defeated quite simply by the vibrations caused by the ringing of the church bells. Platt has brought humour here, like Peri having to disguise herself as the Queen, especially when she starts getting carried away and knighting random sailors on the Cormorant, or when the Doctor gets stuck in the portcullis at the Tower of London. Some of this is a bit misjudged, like how laissez-faire the Doctor seems at being tortured by Walsingham on the rack, which does almost rob the scene of any kind of tension.

Aztecs? But this is England!

Oh, that makes all the difference.

Peri and the Sixth Doctor

The choice of setting and people featured here is really interesting. The story is set in Elizabethan England, a time period that a lot of people certainly in England, will have studied to death in school, but chooses to focus in on figures who might not be so familiar to someone with only a passing interest in history. Even as someone who loves the Tudor period and has a history degree, I am only passingly familiar with Christopher Marlowe, who is in the process of writing his most famous work, Doctor Faustus and only slightly familiar with Elizabeth I’s spy master, Francis Walsingham. Marc Platt and presumably, Barbara Clegg, have clearly done their research in writing this story. So this story completely falls into Doctor Who’s educational remit. I think the only thing that I knew about Marlowe was that he died in a pub fight, which this story very neatly covers in its closing moments, and is occasionally floated as a figure who could have used the name Shakespeare as a nom de plume. Shakespeare is another figure who is kept out of this, with the Doctor mentioning that he has not risen to prominence yet. The sound design is pretty spot on at evoking a decent and immersive listening experience and certainly helped with imagining what was happening, especially in the scenes as the Doctor and Peri walk through Gracechurch Street Market, the noise of flies buzzing around – which pays off later in the story when the flies are revealed to actually be the Omnim, or the sound of the Doctor and Peri returning from the astral plane to Velez’s burning house.

The supporting cast are particularly strong, especially Mark Addis as Kit Marlowe, who really adds colour to the multi-layered character. Not only is Marlowe a playwright, but also a spy for Walsingham, meant to be reporting back on the activity of Velez but obviously corrupted by the visions that the Spaniard is showing him, giving him inspiration for his writing. In turn, his relationship with Tom is very delicately handled and only really nodded at – there is a great line about Tom only having eyes for Marlowe, but Marlowe only having eyes for himself – and Tam Williams is good here too. Both of these characters are well served in this story, especially when it is revealed that Tom is another agent of Walsingham, employed to report back on Marlowe, which makes him feel more three dimensional. Velez is well played by Luis Soto, who brings this completely freaky and out of the ordinary character to life really well. He oozes with menace and charm where suitable and is definitely a great bad guy.

Lives spilling from the Tower until the whole Thames runs red!

The Sixth Doctor

I really liked the idea of the Omnim, who had imprisoned themselves in a fragment of the planet they unwittingly destroyed through creating technology to create vibrations at will. This was then found and used by the Aztecs during their sacrifices, which also channeled energy to them and the blade was separated from its hilt and reunifying the weapon drives the main plot of this story. They want to overrun Earth to claim for their own, although they don’t really seem too fussy about where they end up as the Doctor offers to resettle them on another planet to “resonate to their heart’s content”, which they accept. The idea of them becoming fly like beings is quite a good idea, explained by the length of time that they have been imprisoned in the asteroid, they can only manifest themselves as these creatures. Even whilst in this form they are still menacing as demonstrated by their increasing volume as they buzz around Peri’s head in the astral plane.

Throughout this series of Lost Stories, Big Finish have worked on softening the Sixth Doctor’s character and Colin Baker feels really comfortable playing the Doctor this way. His spikiness is not entirely gone, but it is not in needless nastiness directed towards his companion. I like how this Doctor, unlike some of his modern successors, is completely not star struck by meeting Marlowe, taking it completely in his stride as if it is just an inevitable side effect of time travel. He is equally great in his confrontations with Velez and in his sorrowful declaration that he is sorry that the Omnim all had to die and how that was never his wish and unnecessary.

The story also serves Peri really well here, and this is one of the best performances I’ve heard so far from Nicola Bryant. She, of course, gets to have some fun in her impersonation of Queen Elizabeth I but Peri is particularly great when she is trying to find suitable clothing for Tudor London. She gets quite a lot to do here, being possessed by the Omnim for a spell in the second part, and Bryant imbues this with a etheral and dreamlike quality which is really unsettling in the astral plane.

Verdict: Point of Entry is another great entry in this series of Lost Stories, even if the extended length and poor conclusion lets it down slightly. 9/10

Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown), Matt Addis (Kit Marlowe), Luis Soto (Velez), Sean Connolly (Iguano/Captain Garland), Tam Williams (Tom), Gemma Wardle (Alys) & Ian Brooker (Sir Francis Walsingham).

Writer: Marc Platt (from a story by Barbara Clegg)

Director: John Ainsworth

Parts: 2

Cast Notes

  • Matt Addis has also appeared in the following Big Finish plays:
    • The Wreck of the Titan;
    • Robophobia;
    • An Earthly Child;
    • The Macros;
    • The Children of Seth; and
    • Jago in Love.
  • Sean Connolly has appeared in the following Big Finish plays:
    • The Wishing Beast;
    • The Dark Husband;
    • Time Reef;
    • A Perfect World;
    • Memories of a Tyrant; and
    • The Sontaran Ordeal.
  • Tam Williams has also appeared in The Sword of the Chevalier, Hunters of Earth and A Gamble With Time.
  • Ian Brooker has appeared in a number of Big Finish productions, including Embrace the Darkness,

Best Quote

Was ever a writer so alive? Ideas, strategies, plots and character tumbling in my head.

Kit Marlowe

Previous Sixth Doctor review: Paradise 5

This story is available on the Big Finish website or to stream on Spotify.

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