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Audio - The Council of Nicaea
The Council of Nicaea
(Caroline Symcox)

 "The Council of Nicaea" has been written by Caroline Symcox and features Peter Davison, as the Fifth Doctor, with companions Peri and Erimem played by Nicola Bryant and Caroline Morris.

 This historical adventure has been directed by Gary Russell and was recorded on the 18th and 19th April 2005.

Also starring are: David Bamber, Claire Carroll, Steve Kynman, Martin Parsons, Michael Garland, Sean Carlsen and Stephan Bessant.

Peter Davison
Peter Davison
 When the Roman Emperor Constantine called a council of Churchmen to Nicaea 1,680 yeas ago, he wasn’t to know that the reverberations would still be felt upon Western civilisation many centuries later.

 The year is 325AD and the TARDIS deposits The Doctor and his two companions in the city of Nicaea a few thousand years and 600 miles or so from Erimem’s home on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean.

They have arrived a few days before the first great Church council, called by the Roman Emperor Constantine, in a very civilised part of the Roman empire. The Doctor with his companions are there simply to watch events unfold. Gaps remain in the history books, and The Doctor has come to satisfy his curiosity.

 Posing as visitors from Alexander The Doctor manages to gain the trust of Constantine and also to the council meeting itself where theology, philosophy and politics will be brought together for millennia to come.

Peri

Peri

But none of them are ready for what greets them in Nicaea. Intrigue within the Imperial Palace has become violence on the streets. Mobs roam the alleyways and blood is spilt in the name of faith. Even in the face of murder and injustice though, The Doctor is keen to make sure that his fellow time travellers must stay aloof and not get involved. This is history, after all.

But for Erimem this is her future she is witnessing and so does not appreciate the complexities of time travel and the damage that can be caused if key historical events are changed when to one person this is the future and not the past.

 As political intrigue in Nicaea turns to mob violence and retribution, the time travellers become more enmeshed in it, both physically and philosophically.

Peri and Erimem, in trying to escape a riot, become separated from The Doctor and meet Athanasius who it seems will be the most effected by the injustice that is rife – but has no means to defend his beliefs or himself. Erimem though is determined to put things right even if it means the break-up of her friendship with her closest friends and the unravelling of history.

Caroline Morris
Caroline Morris
After being thrown out of the first council meeting for speaking up for Athanasius it is all The Doctor can do to stop them all being thrown into jail and to keep Erimem from doing any more damage. Disgusted Erimem runs off but Peri manages to track her down. But Erimem has become to far involved and caught up with her emotions to listen to reason and so Peri is not able to persuade her fellow companion to return to the TARDIS.

Unbeknown to Peri she has been followed by Emperor Constantine’s legionnaires who try to capture Athanasius. This raid instead leads to the capture of Erimem who is even more angry with those orchestrating current events and even more determined to obtain justice for Athanasius.

But is it p
ossible for the future of one and the history of many be rewritten? And if it can, can The Doctor afford to let it?

Is one theologian’s cause worth risking your life? One companion it seems is determined to find out whatever the cost…

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Notes:
  • Featuring the Fifth Doctor, Peri and Erimem.
  • Serial Number: 6QH
  • Number of Episodes: 4
  • Cover Length: 110 minutes
  • Episode Lengths: 1 = 28'12", 2 = 30'41", 3 = 21'45", 4 = 26'47"
  • Total Story Length: 107'25"
  • This story takes place between "Planet of Fire" and "The Caves of Androzani" and after "The Roof of the World".
  • Cover Illustration: Stuart Manning
  • Recorded: 18th and 19th April 2005
  • Recording Location: The Moat Studios
  • Released: July 2005
  • ISBN: 1-84435-134-3

On the Back Cover:

The year is 325AD. In the city of Nicaea, the first great Church council, called by the Roman Emperor Constantine, is due to begin. Here theology, philosophy and politics will be brought together for millennia to come.

 The Doctor, Peri and Erimem are there simply to watch events unfold. Gaps remain in the history books, and The Doctor has come to satisfy his curiosity.

 But none of them are ready for what greets them in Nicaea. Intrigue within the Imperial Palace has become violence on the streets. Mobs roam the alleyways and blood is spilt in the name of faith. Even in the face of murder and injustice though, the time travellers must force themselves to stay aloof.

 This is history, after all.

Yet what is history to one person is the future to another.

Is it possible for history to be rewritten? And if it can, can The Doctor afford to let it?

 

On the Inside Cover:

 I NEVER WOULD HAVE THOUGHT, WHEN I SAT in my room at Keble writing essays about the Council of Nicaea, that one day I would be writing a Doctor Who story about it. Patristics, the study of the early Christian Church, is a required paper for the Oxford BA course. One book is essentially the Bible for all undergraduates studying patristics (apart, that is, from the Bible), and anyone who’s ploughed through the pages of J. N. O. Kelly’s Early Christian Doctrines will know just how dry this stuff can get. But there’s so much more to it than that. I’ll never forget my amazement on going to certain lectures and learning about the murders, violence and riots that surrounded these Church Councils. While a bunch of bishops sat inside, debasing the subtle differences between homoousios and homoiousios and what that choice of words would do to Church doctrine, outside the ordinary folk of the time were fighting about it. The level of common interest was staggering. It was having my eyes opened to these social and political aspects of the time that suggested it to me as the basis for a Doctor Who story.

The Council of Nicaea is a pure historical, and as such I’ve tried to stay as true as possible to the people involved in these events. Some characters might be a little more villainous than their real life counterparts, while some people that you might expert to see are absent. Alexander and Eusebius are only name-checked, for example. Artistic licence has been taken. But every so often I’ve also had the opportunity to include things from the remaining documents we have about the Council. Parts are taken word for word from history. Some things you just can’t resist.

 So, I would like to thank my various lecturers and tutors for introducing me to the Council of Nicaea, and apologise to them for anything I’ve got wrong. Of course, huge thanks to my wonderful producer and director, Gary Russell, and all at Big Finish. And finally, I would like to thank my husband, Paul, who helped me by assiduously refusing to hear the plot, read the script or in any way interact with the story before is was recorded.

 Paul, and everyone out there, I hope you like the finished article!

Caroline Symcox,
April 2005

 Caroline Symcox is a third year D.Phil. student in theology at Oxford University. Though she as yet has no official standing in the Church of England, she is hoping to become an ordained minister at some point. This is her second audio for Big Finish; the first - co-authored with Paul Cornell - was Seasons of Fear, which also had bits featuring Romans. Weird, eh?
 

Production Notes:

Although it ended up as a purely historical story, The Council of Nicaea didn’t start off that way. Caroline Symoox’s original outline suggested that the emperor was in fact one of the splinters of Scaroth from the 1979 Doctor Who adventure City of Death, trying to manipulate events for his own nefarious purposes.

 However producer Gary Russell nixed the idea, feeling that the story would be better served by being true to itself. The contentious subject of religion in Doctor Who, particularly Christianity, might ironically have been less contentious in a sci-fi setting, but it could also have trivialised what is one of the most important moments in history. On top of that, the exact truth of who owns what, copyright-wise, regarding Scaroth made this a no-no. (Strictly speaking, as David Fisher created the character, but Douglas Adams and Graham Williams collaborated on the final scripts for City of Death, Scaroth’s ownership is a grey area.)

 As a result, this story became, the TARDIS aside, Big Finish’s first truly historical Doctor Who audio story in more than two and half years.

 

Who's Who?

The Fifth Doctor

First television appearance: "Castrovalva"
First chronological Big Finish audio appearance: "Land of the Dead"

 He has been exploring the universe for hundreds of years. He fights injustice. He defeats evil. He helps people. Always accompanied by travelling companions, The Doctor has lately found his TARDIS shared by Peri and Erimem, two lively young girls from different points in Earth’s history. They can be a handful - as the intense teasing he endures testifies to...


Peri Brown

First television appearance: "Planet of Fire"
First chronological Big Finish audio appearance: "Red Dawn"

 Perpugilliam Brown has been travelling with The Doctor for a while now. Their relationship can he fractious - but is generally lighthearted and friendly. A keen botanist, resourceful and compassionate, Peri also has a edgy side; a wry sense of humour that can infuriate her travelling companion. Lately, the two have been joined in their travels by Erimem, with whom Peri has immediately bonded. Slightly older than the former Egyptian Pharaoh, Peri has taken it upon herself to play the older sister.



Erimem

First Big Finish audio appearance: "The Eye of the Scorpion"

 Upon the death of her father, Erimemushinseperem - Erimem for short - became Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt. During an attempt on her life she met The Doctor and Peri, who were instrumental in saving her. Before her coronation, the officials decided upon a different, male, Pharaoh - a decision that did not completely disappoint Erimem, who then joined The Doctor and Peri on their travels.

 

Full Cast List:

The Doctor Peter Davison
Peri Nicola Bryant
Erimem Caroline Morris
Emperor Constantine David Bamber
Julius Stephan Bessant
Centurion Caius Sean Carlsen
Fausta Claire Carroll
Clement Michael Garland
Arius Steve Kynman
Athanasius Martin Parsons
Clothing Stallholder Jason Stevens

The Production Team:

Writer Caroline Symcox
Director Gary Russell
Sound/Music Gareth Jenkins and
Russell Stone
Theme Music David Darlington
Producers Gary Russell and
Jason Haigh-Ellery
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