The Prisoner of Peladon

Posted in Audio by - March 25, 2019
The Prisoner of Peladon

Released September 2009

As successful as The Companion Chronicles has been with providing a unique avenue for the Doctor’s many friends to relate missing adventures to a new audience, ‘The Mahogany Murderers’ proved that this audio range does not need to focus exclusively on companions who have traveled within the TARDIS. In ‘The Prisoner of Peladon’ by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright, David Troughton’s King Peladon tells his daughter Thalira of the Doctor’s intervention in a dangerous time in his planet’s past.

Set some five years after ‘The Curse of Peladon’ with the planet a persuasive part of the Federation, Peladon has now become a shelter for Martian political refugees despite the dangerous warnings of the New Martian Republic and the discontent of a significant portion of Peladon’s populace. Yet as the turmoil of the Ice Warriors descends upon this world, it’s not long before an innocent Martian mother is murdered during an act of kindness, and the use of both Pel and Martian weaponry quickly brings out the mistrust that still exists between these two species while the furtive hunt for Princess Lyxgar as the true heir to the Martian throne continues. Tying implicitly into the honour and the shifting motivations of the Martians while Axlaar looks to vanquish the final remnant of the family who threw away his race’s traditional role of power and might, tensions are high throughout and the distinction between friend and foe is anything but clear.

Those with even a passing knowledge of the two televised Peladon stories will find a world steeped in familiarity, and following a first story that subverted expectations with the Ice Warriors before the second then subverted that new foundation, ‘The Prisoner of Peladon’ instead plays the Martian conflict straight and calls the long-standing presences of the Doctor and Alpha Centauri into question. This is one of the rare outings featuring the Third Doctor without a companion, and in a narrative thread befitting of the modern series his shortcomings in just a situation are called out rather explicitly. Here he is willing to pass off the intrigue as simply a dark time in Peladon’s history, but as the mysteries of a locked door and murder consume him, his need to show off and propensity to not always explain the facts to those around him provide plenty of consternation to all involved. With the religious aspects of this civilisation significantly reduced to focus on the characters and the central conflict, it makes a certain sense that the stories and mythology of Peladon should prove so crucial to the outcome, providing the needed clue to the Galactic Federation’s stopgap measures and making strong use of Centauri’s unique physique.

Nicholas Briggs gives an immense performance to bring the menace of the Ice Warriors to life believably in this highly edgy environment, but it’s unquestionably David Troughton who steals the spotlight by effortlessly bringing King Peladon to life once more, perfectly capturing the tone and mannerisms of Jon Pertwee, and even reaching a higher octave to credibly capture Centauri’s distinct voice. The mystery itself is fairly straightforward, but the dangerous picture of Martian politics painted here that culminates in a spectacular confrontation between the Doctor and King Peladon is immense and again proves just how vital this audio range can be in further developing the lingering unknowns that the television storylines leave open.

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