This was the first short story anthology to be published by the BBC after they took the license back from the BBC. It had the very loose theme of "freedom".
The anthology was published as both a book and an audio book. The audio book version of this story was read by Nicholas Courtney and Sophie Aldred, and only contained six stories: Freedom, Model Train Set, Glass, Stop the Pigeon, Old Flames, and Degrees of Truth. This last story was only available on the audio book, was not included in the print edition, and is not covered here. The audio of Model Train Set would later be re-released on CD as a BBC AudioCard.
Two more stories from this anthology were released on audio later that year. Wish You Were Here was released with two other sixth Doctor stories on the audio book Out of the Darkness, read by Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant. The People's Temple was released with two other eighth Doctor stories on the audio book Earth and Beyond, read by Paul McGann.
Model Train Set
Roots: The Doctor's train set includes a Mickey Mouse handcart.
Continuity: The Doctor has a large model train set in the TARDIS study, which he built over a period of several years during his seventh incarnation. The miniature people in the set took months to build. He recalls wanting to drive a train as a boy (Black Orchid). He builds a model train that lays its own track in front of it and takes it up behind it, which eventually vanishes into the TARDIS corridors. He once bought some miracle-gro microseeds off the Kapteynians (The Room with No Doors). He has a copy of War and Peace, which is kept in the study.
The TARDIS workshop is described as a long low room smelling of "damp and machine oil", filled with hulking metal machines and containing an ancient computer terminal, a lathe, and an IC press.
Location: The TARDIS
Roots: Iris first appeared in Magrs' non-Doctor Who novel Marked For Life. The Doctor reads John Donne. There are references to Alice in Wonderland (the Cheshire Cat).
Continuity: The Doctor enjoys Iris' company [at least in this incarnation - see Verdigris and Excelis Dawns]. He drinks sherry. He describes his Third incarnation as "arrogant".
Sarah Jane feels that the new Doctor is more reckless than the Third.
Iris Wildthyme is a Time Lady [see The Blue Angel]. Her TARDIS is in the shape of a number 22 red double decker bus to Putney Common. It is the smaller on the inside than the outside. The console is in the driver's cabin. Her TARDIS contains a settee, a unicorn statuette, and a drinks cabinet. She keeps a variety of weapons in an old tin box in the luggage compartment. She once described her feet to the Doctor as her best feature. Her current body is ageing, large and "inelegant". In the eighteenth century she is known as Lady Iris Wildthyme and owns some land and a beautiful home in the North. The Doctor says that she is determined to own a home in every century on Earth. She describes herself as an "old flame" of the Doctor and says that she was in love with him for many years. Baiting the Doctor is one of her favourite pastimes. The Time Lords send her on a mission, giving her instructions in an irregular globe similar to the one they used in The Mutants. She describes Captain Turner as her nephew, suggesting that he is her companion.
Lady Huntington and her granddaughter are shape-shifting aliens. In their natural form they resemble tigers. They are the last surviving members of their race. The Doctor traps Lady Huntington in the Time Lord message sphere, using a hasty adaptation of the particle reversal experiment attempted by his Third incarnation during The Mutants.
Location: Huntington Manor, England, 1764.
Continuity: Prior to the commencement of the War Games, the Aliens used the SIDRATs provided by the War Chief to sample other warlike races, but eventually settled on humans; they decided to cull the trail samples of other races. Some of these races were genetically modified to enhance their fighting potential. The Aliens contemplated splicing them with humans to create more dangerous hybrids. They use biomechanical implants. They only used races from Galactic Sector 973, since this is the time-vector range selected for optimum operational activities. Several members of these races survived, and were returned to their times and planets of origin by the Time Lords, but many could not be given memory and physiological adjustments to remove their memories of their abduction.
The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe appear here during their attempts to evade the Time Lords at the start of Episode Ten of The War Games. The Doctor carries a sextant in the TARDIS. Stellar phenomenon that could hide the TARDIS from the Time Lords include Naked Singularities, Grey Immensities, Phantom Stars, and Dwindlers.
It is implied that one of the Time Lords seen in The War Games [and played by Bernard Horsfall] is Goth. His rank at the time and his full name are Tribune Gothaparduskerialldrapolatkh.
The Aliens know that humans are the second intelligent race to evolve on Sol III (The Silurians).
The Ulk-Ra is one of the species sampled by the Aliens for their war games. They are proto-mammalian, possibly egg-laying. They are divided into clans. They drink reed wine. Other species on their planet include the Lyr-bear. Male Ulk-Ra are poisoned by the waters of the ocean, which are rich in copper-sulphate slats. Youngsters can be induced to switch gender up to a certain age; this involves surgical removal of sex organs and feeding certain berries. Issu-mul, or bitter berry, induces female characteristics. Females are more intelligent than males.
Location: The planet of the Ulk-Ra, date unknown.
The Last Days
Continuity: Ian misguidedly persuades Jewish rebels to attack the Romans; the Doctor and Susan are forced to spend weeks infiltrating Flavius Silva's camp in order to restore history to its correct path.
Location: Judea, c73AD
Stop the Pigeon
Roots: The title is, of course, taken from the cartoon of the same name, which featured Dastardly and Mutley. As Chithros, the Master appears on the cover of Time magazine. There are references to Hammond Innes, Jeffrey Archer, Iain Banks, Yosemite Sam, and "On Top of Old Smoky". There is a reference to Platt, which might be a nod to Doctor Who writer Marc Platt.
Continuity: The Master is still infected with the Cheetah virus, following the events of Survival. During times of stress, the virus becomes increasingly active, accelerating his feral characteristics such that he grows claws and fur. He adopts the alias Doctor Howard Chithros, appearing on television in this guise in order to publicize the age-reduction therapy he offers. He actually uses the inmates of the old people's homes that he establishes, draining enzymes, proteins and other nutrients from the bodies of his luckless patients to stabilize his own metabolism. He supposedly rejuvenates his patients so that they leave as babies; in fact he kills them, then kidnaps their newborn selves from the past and brings these into the future, creating a temporal paradox that attracts the Virgoans. He employs a convicted felon named Garth to drive his BMW.
Virgoans are a race of shape-shifting biomechanical symbiotes with an obsession for temporal tidiness. They are excellent at discovering temporal anomalies, and attempt to fix them but usually do it very badly. The Time Lords have attempted to stop them, with little success. At some point, a Virgoan survey team arrived on Melandra IV, only to discover that it was in the middle of a Krynoid infestation; the survey team became infected, and traveled to Earth. The Virgoan survey probe eventually works out how to transform itself into vegetable matter, allowing it to absorb the Krynoid.
The Doctor carries a telescopic probe.
Ace wears cycling shorts and a crop top.
Location: Survival. The Krynoids first appeared in The Seeds of Doom. The temporal anomaly detected by the Virgoans on Melandra IV was an Androgum egg-timer (The Two Doctors).
Future History: There is a Channel Seven in the UK by 2067. Babies are routinely fed nutrients by drip-feed, often containing a mild sedative.
Q.v.: The Master's Post-Survival Timeline, Prime Time.
Continuity: The Master implanted post-hypnotic suggestions in hundreds of employees of the Freedom Corporation prior to his capture in The Daemons, so that they would attempt to rescue him in the event of his capture. He established the company in 1936, personally laying the cornerstone of the building, partly to fulfil this contingency plan. He also used the company as a cover to grow the body of Gerald Gooder in a nutrient tank, into which he can transfer his mind and thus escape captivity. He briefly escapes from Stangmoor, in the guise of a middle-aged blond man. Using the Doctor and Jo's capture to bribe the Brigadier, he gains access to a machine that he built previously, which reverses Earth's timestream.
The Time Lords briefly restore the TARDIS and the Doctor's full knowledge of time travel to allow him to halt the reversal of Earth's timestream caused by the Master.
The people of Arbrocknel built a prison outside of space and time [inside the Time Vortex - the Master notes that any attempt to breach the walls will result in fatal exposure to the Time Winds (Warrior's Gate)] to house their most dangerous criminals.
Location: London [Autumn 1971], and a pod built by the people of Arbocknel outside of space and time.
Roots: There is a reference to WH Smiths.
Continuity: During the events of Shada, one of the minds trapped in Skagra's Sphere escaped in Cambridge and tried to recreate itself in the real world. It has an affinity for glass, and appears to a luckless woman living in the city. The Doctor notes that it is from a different dimension and cannot be allowed to be reborn on Earth. It partially succeeds in creating a body for itself, before the Doctor stops it. He takes the creature's new physical form with him.
Location: Cambridge, c1980 [shortly after Shada].
Continuity: After leaving the Doctor, Ben and Polly got married, but not to each other. They meet up on New Year's Eve 1986, knowing that by that time Mondas will have arrived and been destroyed (The Tenth Planet). Ben still has nightmares about fighting the Cyberman in the Snowcap base projector room. It is implied that the various governments have covered up the news of the return of Mondas and the Cybermen invasion.
Location: A hotel room, location unknown (probably England), December 31st 1986.
There are Fairies at the Bottom of the Garden
Continuity: The vaguely humanoid creatures of the unnamed planet are six feet tall, with greenish brown skin. Their headless bodies drip with rancid liquid, and produce a powerful odour. They have four limbs, each ending in multiple tentacles. They live amongst the petals of the gigantic flowers that cover the planet's surface. The unnamed planet has at least one moon.
The parasitic crystalline entity consists of a central bloom protected by small flying humanoids that resemble fairies. The fairies die when the bloom is destroyed.
Location: An unnamed planet, date unknown.
Mother's Little Helper
Roots: There are references to the Beatles and BBC2. The title of the story is presumably derived from the Rolling Stones song of the same title.
Dialogue Triumphs: 'You can't just off-load your disappointments and pain on to other people. We can only learn anything from our experiences by living through them.'
Continuity: The alien boy has the ability to take the pain of others from them, but has to bear it himself. His eventual destruction of his alien mistress suggests that he can also return it to others. Presumably, the two are from separate races; the woman claims that her real appearance would attract too much attention on Earth.
Location: Southmouth, England, sometime during the late twentieth century.
The Parliament of Rats
Continuity: The TARDIS floats on the ocean, even upright with the door open (see Fury from the Deep).
The Doctor usually sleeps easily when he bothers to sleep at all.
Lethe is an ocean world, named after the mythical River Lethe. The planet's time field is full of striations, meaning that time sensitives are required to navigate its waters. These human time sensitives are the result of exposure to the validium staff. According to local legend, the pirate ship Parliament of Rats captured the sea deity called the White God, who cursed the ship. Brunner holds the rank of God-Killer of the Autarchy, which requires him to root and destroy rivals to his own god, Om; he uses a staff made out of validium, that arrived on Lethe by accident, in order to do this.
The validium staff created the White God, which is actually a white hole drawn from the old time "when such things were allowed" [see Christmas on a Rational Planet]. Validium has DNA. The Doctor orders to the staff to destroy itself, turning it into water.
Location: The Lung of Heaven and the Parliament of Rats, on the planet Lethe, date unknown.
Roots: The Doctor refers to Frankenstein.
Continuity: Farrashians are bald, with pale skin and fish-like mouths. They have twenty to thirty legs. Their babies start as a simple brain and are conscious from conception. They live for approximately two hundred years. Their custom is to launch their dead into space into a sealed casket with a constantly transmitting recording that will announce the story of that Farrashian's life and the manner of his or her death. One hundred years earlier, a change in their sun meant that it began emitting a new type of radiation that created mutagens in the blood of the Farrashians and decreased their sperm count. The Doctor estimates that they will be extinct within three or four hundred years.
Deladus III is an Earth colony.
Location: Farrashian City on Farrash, date unknown.
Wish You Were Here
Roots: There are references to Fawlty Towers, Cornettos, Mark Twain, Norman Rockwell, Scott Fitzgerald, and Lassie.
Dialogue Disasters: Lakksis' dialogue, most notably 'Cheez, what a scuzzball.'
Continuity: The Doctor claims to be able to visually detect 170 different levels of the spectrum. Late-Victorian Britain is one of the Doctor's favourite times and places, as long as he doesn't have to visit the dentist whilst he's there.
The Thetrans run the planet Nestra as a holiday resort. A scientist named Korriklimm built a set of leisurebots known as Lakksis to run the resort. The Lakksis are programmed to engage in light banter with their guests. According to their publicity material, the Thetrans are legendary for their hospitality and for their love and dedication to the people of the Ragnar system. They have been running the leisure syndicate for five centuries and their entire economy depends on it.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Sixth Doctor once set right a minor skirmish on the planet Jovanna, where a local dictator had wanted everyone to wear red on memory of his lost bride; the Jovannans have a physical defect in their physiognomy, which means that they go blind if they see too much red. He eventually solved the problem by introducing the dictator to a dating agency. Whilst on Jovanna, he met Jovannan K'Tarth, accidentally inspiring him to tour the universe.
The Doctor has met Korriklimm before.
Ace of Hearts
Roots: There is a reference to Tommy Cooper.
Continuity: The Doctor visits the baby Ace in 1971, to apologise to her for Gabriel Chase (Ghost Light) and Fenric (The Curse of Fenric).
Ace's mother's married name is Audrey Gale.
Location: East Acton, London, February 1971.
The People's Temple
Roots: The Doctor mentions Henry James.
Dialogue Triumphs: The Doctor: 'How can you know what is and what isn't a ceremony four thousand years before you were born?'
Continuity: The Doctor takes Sam to see Stonehenge at her request.
The TARDIS medical kit can provide information on treatment and can take x-rays.
Location: Stonehenge, during the Late Stone Age.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor once had a chat with the Emperor Hadrian.