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Audio - The Stones of Venice

The Stones of Venice
(Paul Magrs
)


 After the Eighth Doctor's debut in January 2001's "Storm Warning" and the Cybermen's debut in February's "Sword of Orion" the release for March 2001 is "The Stones of Venice". Written by Paul Magrs and directed by Gary Russell this story was recorded on the 15th and 16th May 2000 and will again star Paul McGann, as the Eighth Doctor, and India Fisher, as Charley Pollard. This story was originally submitted to Big Finish Productions as a Fifth Doctor and Nyssa story.

Michael Sheard
Michael Sheard
 Guest star Michael Sheard is playing the part of Duke Orsino. Michael Sheard is more famous for his role as a teacher in the BBC children's school drama programme Grange Hill. He has also appeared in many Doctor Who stories including "The Ark", "The Mind of Evil", "Pyramids of Mars", "The Invisble Enemy" and "Castrovalva". He was also in "Remembrance of the Daleks" playing the part of the headmaster at Coal Hill school. His film credits include The Empire Strikes Back and he was also in two of the Indiana Jones films. Also starring are: Nick Scovell, Barnaby Edwards, Elaine Ives Cameron and Mark Gatiss.

 The Doctor decides that after all the scrapes they have been in that a relaxing holiday is in order and what could be better then taking Charley to see the enchanted Italian city of Venice. Such a magnificent city with its canals, palaces and gondolas. Unfortunately, the TARDIS, true to form, takes them to a time of unrest and great danger.
Venice
Venice


 It is the 23rd century and the city has been under Duke Orsino's rule for over a hundred years. 'It isn't what you'd call the best of times to drop in,' admits The Doctor. This of course turns out to be a huge understatement as they discover that Venice is about to slip beneath the waters forever. The last boats have long gone and with the place rife with snobbery, decay, superstition and terror the remaining Venetians are living like it's their last night on Earth.

 The Doctor and Charley become embroiled in the decadent court of the tired Duke and his search for his beloved wife - the Duchess Estella. The curse of the long since dead Duchess has finally come to pass and as the hour of doom approaches, The Doctor and Charley become dangerously separated. The Doctor becomes involved with a group of cultists, and on finding the tomb of the Duchess, is tasked with the search for a long lost painting. Charley though is in even greater danger when she falls in with some local rebels and, after being drugged, finds that she has somehow become engaged to be married much to The Doctors horror when they finally catch up with each other.

Paul McGann and India Fisher
Paul McGann
and India Fisher
 The malign, self-indulgent Orsino and the secret, fanatical cult of Estella are both fervently wishing for the Duchess' return in any form that suits their separate purposes. But why do the gondoliers not fear Venice's final subsidence? Why can no one provide a true picture of Estella's history? And why is The Doctor so worried about the Duke's collection of paintings?

 With the rebellion by the web-footed amphibious underclass to contend with The Doctor and Charley are forced to wonder just what they have got themselves involved with this time and having survived the ruin of Pompeii, can The Doctor escape another doomed Italian city?

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Notes:
  • Featuring the Eighth Doctor and Charley Pollard.
  • This story was the first Big Finish production recorded with Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor.
  • Serial Number: 8D
  • Number of Episodes: 4
  • Cover Length: 120 minutes
  • Episode Lengths: 1 = 32'04", 2 = 27'09", 3 = 24'56", 4 = 26'58"
  • This story takes place after "Doctor Who: The Movie".
  • Cover Illustration: Clayton Hickman
  • Recorded: 15th and 16th May 2000
  • Recording Location: Christchurch Studios
  • Released: March 2001
  • ISBN: 1-903654-25-4

On the Back Cover:

 The Doctor and Charley decide to take a well-deserved break from the monotony of being chased, shot at and generally suffering anti-social behaviour at the hands of others. And so they end up in Venice, well into Charley's future, as the great city prepares to sink beneath the water for the last time…

 Which would be momentous, if rather dispiriting, event to witness in itself. However, the machinations of a love-sick aristocrat, a proud art historian and a rabid High Priest of a really quite dodgy cult combine to make Venice's swansong a night to remember.

 And then there's the rebellion by the web-footed amphibious underclass, the mystery of a disappearing corpse and the truth behind a curse going back further than curses usually do.

 The Doctor and Charley are forced to wonder just what they have got themselves involved with this time…
 

On the Inside Cover:

  What went into the writing of this script: mad plotting sessions through the night with Jeremy Hoad and Stephen Hornby. Wanting to put lots of favourite things into one story. A crumbling city, lagoons, mad cults, mad Dukes, Wuthering Heights, Dracula, Romeo and Juliet, Great Expectations, Max Ernst. All that stuff. Fistcuffs and drowning and magical jewels. Masques and revels.

  Also, remembering queueing outside HMV in Edinburgh in 1996, the middle of the night by the castle, waiting with all the others to buy the Paul McGann film. The Doctor springing to life again looking like him; that's in this script, too.

  And, the excitement of writing my first Doctor Who novel, in 1997 - giving these characters my own words.

  Summer weekends in Venice in recent years; traipsing the Left Bank and Pinot Grigio at ten pence a glass; writing in my journal in the Peggy Guggenheim museum.

  And - because it's an audio script - remembering that me and my brother used to leave a portable TV playing Doctor Who full blast in the early 80s, upstairs, with a tape recorder pressed up to the speakers. Doctor Who back then was all on audio. Figuring out the action from the cryptic, bizarre noises.

  So this is a culmination, as well as a ludicrous, bedazzling romp in Venice.
Paul Magrs,
December 2000
 

Full Cast List:

Part One
The Doctor Paul McGann
Charley Pollard India Fisher
Orsino, a Duke Michael Sheard
Churchwell, a curator Nick Scovell
Ms Lavish, an elderly lady Elaine Ives Cameron
Pietro, a gondolier Barnby Edwards
Vincenzo, a High Priest Mark Gatiss
 
Part Two
The Doctor Paul McGann
Charley Pollard India Fisher
Churchwell, a curator Nick Scovell
Vincenzo, a High Priest Mark Gatiss
Pietro, a gondolier Barnby Edwards
Orsino, a Duke Michael Sheard
Ms Lavish, an elderly lady Elaine Ives Cameron
 
Part Three
The Doctor Paul McGann
Charley Pollard India Fisher
Vincenzo, a High Priest Mark Gatiss
Churchwell, a curator Nick Scovell
Ms Lavish, an elderly lady Elaine Ives Cameron
Pietro, a gondolier Barnby Edwards
Orsino, a Duke Michael Sheard
 
Part Four
The Doctor Paul McGann
Charley Pollard India Fisher
Vincenzo, a High Priest Mark Gatiss
Orsino, a Duke Michael Sheard
Ms Lavish, an elderly lady Elaine Ives Cameron
Churchwell, a curator Nick Scovell
Pietro, a gondolier Barnby Edwards

The Production Team:

Writer Paul Magrs
Director Gary Russell
Sound/Music Russell Stone
Theme Music David Arnold
Producers Gary Russell and
Jason Haigh-Ellery
Executive Producer for the BBC Jaqueline Rayner
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