The Whispering Forest (audio story)

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The Whispering Forest was the one hundred and thirty-seventh story in Big Finish's monthly range. It was written by Stephen Cole and featured Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor, Sarah Sutton as Nyssa, Janet Fielding as Tegan Jovanka and Mark Strickson as Turlough.

It was the second Big Finish audio story in the 2010 Fifth Doctor season. It continued a series of stories starring Davison, Sutton, Fielding and Strickson, who were reunited as a TARDIS team for their first new Doctor Who stories since 1983.

Publisher's summary[[edit]]

The TARDIS arrives in alien woodlands, where a small group of humans hold tight against the menace of the Takers — strange creatures who come by night to spirit away members of their settlement.

But if there's one thing that the inhabitants of Purity Bay fear more than the Takers, it's the dirt and disease spread by strangers. Strangers like the Doctor, Tegan, Turlough and Nyssa...

The fanatical Sister Mertil and her hygiene-obsessed acolytes are victims of a terrible corruption — but not in the way they think. Only the whispering forest knows the truth...

Plot[[edit]]

Part one[[edit]]

Set to seek out mentions of Richter's Syndrome so that Nyssa's cure can be tested, the TARDIS lands on Chodor and the Doctor and Tegan go to investigate the cry of a man being taken deeper into the forest. They are taken captive by Seksa and taken to Purity Bay, learning on the way about how the Takers kidnap those who become frail and that Seksa's ailing father, Anulf, is missing.

Turlough and Nyssa, having fallen behind after leaving the TARDIS, run away from whispers which Nyssa feels being pushed into her mind by Shades. Because of Turlough's red hair, Mertil, Seska's stepmother, believes that he is a Taker and tries to capture him, but he and Nyssa run and are forced to wade and swim across a stinking river. Mertil's people hit Turlough with a stone and Nyssa gets his unconscious body to safety.

Impressed by the Doctor's title, Seksa decides to introduce him and Tegan to her germ-obsessed people as their saviours. The two of them enter the rest centre, the guards of which were apparently drugged by the Takers, and see advanced technology on the walls. Mertil finds them before Seksa is ready and orders Jestan to kill the Doctor by repeatedly shocking him with a Cardax defibrillator.

Part two[[edit]]

By threatening to cough over the two sedated guards, Tegan gets Jestan to stop and Seska speaks in her and the Doctor's defence when she arrives. The two travellers enter the decontamination chamber as a show of good faith, but Tegan collapses and they are taken to the rest centre where the Doctor learns that the parts of the spaceship that the people did not use to build their home are kept at the Ghost Place.

Turlough and Nyssa come across the remains of a Taker, an android, and use its luminescent orange cap to find their way in a nearby cave home to other such androids. They run from the Takers when they present hypodermic needles and use the broken one to pass through a force field into a tunnel from which Nyssa temporarily teleports, revealing how the Takers get around.

The Doctor goes to the Ghost Place with Hervey and Jestan, whom Seska wants to keep away from Mertil given their connection. The Ghost Place is said to be home to the Shades, believed to be the unclean dead, and the Doctor realises that the ship is a hospital, indicating that the people of Purity Bay are descended from the patients. Jestan breaks Hervey's neck, planning on framing the Doctor to convince the people to execute him.

Part three[[edit]]

Mertil reveals that she pushed Seksa's mother from a cliff as part of her plan to become leader of Purity Bay before having Antan shoot Seksa. She blames the Doctor and Tegan for Seksa's injury and rouses up the people for a lynching, but Nyssa interrupts and presents them with the destroyed Taker in an attempt to earn their trust. When the Takers arrive and carry Tegan away in error, Turlough impersonates a Shade to frighten the people and the Doctor, having knocked out Jestan, uses a device in the rest centre to put them all to sleep.

The Doctor, Turlough, Nyssa and the injured Seksa head to the caves to find Tegan and Anulf. From the Taker and its brief possession by a Shade, the Doctor deduces that the Shades are the echoes of forty-four patients euthanised due to them suffering from Richter's Syndrome, which the Takers were unable to treat. Mertil and the crowd catch up with them and intend to kill them whilst, in the Takers' sterile environment where their patients live, Tegan tries to convince Anulf to leave with her and learns that his wife is still alive. The Doctor, Turlough, Nyssa and Seksa pass through the force field.

Part four[[edit]]

Jestan is killed when he tries to use the defibrillator to get through the force field and most of the crowd abandons Mertil. The Takers work to cure Seksa, who has been poisoned by carbolic acid entering her wound, and explain when the Doctor claims that they are a rescue party that the ship crashed when a staff doctor roused patients to stop the policy of euthanasia and the engines were damaged, turning many into Shades. The staff doctor became the leader of Purity Bay and banned any mention of the Takers, but they continued to care for the people in secret.

Mertil enters the cave with Antan and thirteen followers using the damaged Taker. The Shades attack by inhabiting the Takers, driven insane by their time without bodies, and the Doctor decides to cut the power to disable them whilst trying to ensure that the life support systems in the intensive care ward remain operational. Mertil is killed when she refuses to hide from the Shades, Anulf is killed defending Seska and Antan helps the Doctor and Turlough shut down the Takers and discharge it into them, causing them to melt and giving the Shades peace at last.

The Doctor, Tegan, Turlough and Nyssa say goodbye to Seska, who no longer wishes to be the leader of Purity Bay, and return to the TARDIS. Tegan has not been sleeping well recently and is suffering from a headache which the Doctor correctly suspects is due to the Mara; the Mara takes her over and tells the Doctor that it still lives inside her mind and he never managed to get rid of it.

Cast[[edit]]

Worldbuilding[[edit]]

Notes[[edit]]

Continuity[[edit]]

Footnotes[[edit]]

External links[[edit]]