The Elite reviewed

As part of the Big Finish Day 10 of the best sale I bought The EliteFifth Doctor story also featuring Nyssa and Tegan. This is a Lost Story, a range I haven’t done more than dip into, and is written by John Dorney from an original story by Barbara Clegg. As it is badged as being one of the best I had high hopes. Were they met? Read on and find out though there is a major spoiler so you may want to listen to the story before reading on…

The Plot

As ever the Big Finish product page acts as our cornerstone:

The Doctor offers Tegan and Nyssa a trip to the paradise world of Florana, but instead the TARDIS takes them to a domed city on a planet scarred by warfare. A world where everyone is young, and fighting for the glory of the Elite…

Hidden away in The Cathedral of Power, the High Priest is watching. It knows the Doctor, and his arrival changes everything…

The TARDIS has its journey interrupted and ends up on a domed world which means the Doctor is unable to orient on the stars. The crew is soon separated and arrested with Nyssa identified as being intelligent enough to train for the Elite (young people force-fed games and other conditioning which reminded me of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card) while Tegan is taken away to join the Rejects. Meanwhile the Doctor visits the Cathedral of Power and gets involved with (and annoys) most people he meets.

We slowly learn that there is a war in progress and the people are led by a High Priest sent from Heaven (with a dome they know not that there can be other worlds). We slowly garner clues as to who (or what) the High Priest is as Tegan joins the resistance and the Doctor tries (in vain) to free Nyssa only to be betrayed as she has been brainwashed,

At the end of part two we learn that the High Priest is a Dalek and has triggered war to get the local civilisation to evolve – the reason being that the Dalek is badly damaged and needs repair and to send for help. The Dalek has applied the Dalek approach to training to humans and we are surprised when it is destroyed to be replaced by a human priest who has gone mad and wishes to destroy everyone on the planet so they may meet their god.

With much bloodshed, sacrifice and ingenuity matters are resolved and our heroes are free to leave.

The Production

This is one of the Big Finish releases where the CD Extras are mandatory listening. Several thoughts I was having as I listened are covered off and John Dorney is fascinating to hear as he tells the listener how he conceived the story:

  • This is all about how human beings can become (like the Germans under Hitler) quickly conditioned to evil
  • Nyssa has been sidelined to some extent spending much of the story unconscious (John was constrained be the fact that he had to work all three of the TARDIS crew into the story)
  • Tegan plays angry Tegan to the hilt and the dialogue makes much of this rather than treating it as context. Janet Fielding is particularly good in this story.

Tegan as a whole is very strong here – despite bitching about everything her resolution to the problem of the rebellion of the Rejects is to act like the Doctor. I thought this was a brilliant idea.

Peter Davison also plays the Doctor at the top of his game and this story (for me) really captures the essence of the Fifth Doctor.

Overall

I like this story a lot and it probably plays better on audio made now than it would have on TV at the time. Is it in my top 10? Not sure, I will have to think on that, it is good though!

Over to you – do you like this or are there flaws I have missed? Let me know!

Tony, March 2013

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