The Stranger (video series)

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The Stranger video series
Directed by Bill Baggs
Produced by Bill Baggs
Written by Christian Darkin (1)
Nigel Fairs (2)
Nicholas Briggs (3-6)
Starring Colin Baker
Nicola Bryant
Louise Jameson
David Troughton
John Wadmore
Music by Duncan Chave (1)
Alistair Lock (2)
Harvey Summers (3)
Nicholas Briggs (4)
Stephen Root (6)
Cinematography Dick Kursa
Andy Bell (6)
Edited by Michael Duxbury (4)
Production
  company
BBV
S & J Video (3)
Release date(s) 1991 (1)
1992 (2)
1993 (3)
1994 (4, 5)
1995 (6)
Running time 34 minutes (1)
43 minutes (2)
40 minutes (3)
50 minutes (4)
47 minutes (5)
85 minutes (6)
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Stranger is a series of direct-to-video (and audio CD) science-fiction dramas produced by BBV and starring Colin Baker. They are now available on DVD.

The series began in 1991 with Summoned by Shadows, co-produced with the BBC Film Club as a knowing homage to the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who (of which BBV founder Bill Baggs was a fan) and in a pragmatic attempt to take advantage of the consequent pre-existing audience. Summoned by Shadows was a Who-style tale of strange doings on a distant planet featuring three actors known for their roles in Doctor Who and playing similar characters.

The unnamed protagonist (listed in the credits as "The Stranger") was played by Colin Baker, his assistant Miss Brown by Nicola Bryant, who had played the Doctor's assistant Peri Brown opposite Colin Baker for two years, and the villain of the piece by Michael Wisher, who had been the first actor to play Davros.

The second story, More than a Messiah, adapted the Doctor Who Audio Visuals story of the same name, but with the Stranger and Miss Brown substituted for the Doctor and companion Ria (who was modelled after Peri). In a further connection, it co-starred Sophie Aldred, better known as Ace from Doctor Who, and Peter Miles, who had co-starred (opposite Wisher) in the TV serial Genesis of the Daleks – both in completely different roles.

In Memory Alone, the third film, found the Stranger and Miss Brown stranded without their mysterious transport (never seen or referred to as the TARDIS) in a desolate train station with amnesia, and battling a robot and a mysterious man played by Nicholas Briggs (who also wrote the film along with others in the Stranger series). Most releases of this film (including VHS) include a behind-the-scenes featurette and a blooper reel.

While the first three may be (and usually were) taken as Doctor Who by another name, the departure here of the Miss Brown character (for which Nicola Bryant had not used her Peri Brown American accent) and the Stranger himself being likewise "returned to his proper time and place" at the story's conclusion allowed for a move to divorce the series from any such notions. The adventures of the Stranger ran in all to six videos (and four audio dramas, although the second audio drama was much the same as the sixth video), in the later half of which the series established its own style and distinct back story, abandoning any pretence of being the further adventures of the Sixth Doctor under another name (or lack thereof). The Stranger was thus eventually given an identity as the series' continuity was tied up.

History of the Stranger[edit]

In a pan-dimensional area referred to as the "Dimensional Web", there exist two races: the Protectorate, which are currently dominant and in charge, and the Preceptors, apparently defeated by the Protectorate. The Preceptors act by taking on corporeal forms within the material universe and carry out random acts of violence, terrorism and assassination in an effort to strike back at their oppressors (although it is never truly determined which race is in the right and which is in the wrong, so it is difficult to say whether the Preceptors are terrorists or freedom fighters), usually in teams of two or three. One such Preceptor cell is headed by Solomon, considered one of the top Preceptor leaders. His second-in-command and partner is Egan (played by David Troughton) and the third member of the team is a relative newcomer named Saul (John Wadmore). Solomon and Egan have worked together for a long time and therefore have complete faith in one another.

However, one mission, while accomplishing the objective (the assassination of an unimportant female caterer), ends in disaster with Solomon being captured by the Protectorate and Egan and Saul managing to escape. Since the Protectorate no longer believe in execution (their own past is too bloody for that) and incarceration would be a drain on their resources, Solomon is selected to be the first to undergo a new process – the Estrangement Programme, in which the prejudices of the subject are "extracted" by a form of mental block or conditioning and wiping out all past memories of the subject's "crimes" (the Protectorate state emphatically that this is not brainwashing).

Note: In the audio adventure "The Last Mission", it is revealed that during the above mission Solomon was captured by the planet's local security force, but the officer in charge (Elisabeth Sladen) turned out to be a Protectorate agent who had set a trap for all three Preceptors. While Solomon was in her custody, she offered Solomon a deal in which, in return for her allowing the Preceptors to accomplish their mission and Egan and Saul's escape, Solomon would surrender himself to the Protectorate and undergo the then-experimental Estrangement Programme. Believing that his beliefs were not prejudices and that the program would not affect him, he agreed, never revealing the bargain to Egan and Saul.

After Solomon undergoes the procedure, he is assigned a Protectorate observer who also acts as a companion, Miss Brown (Nicola Bryant), and begins his new life as the Doctor-like "Stranger". However, in the adventure In Memory Alone, the Stranger, while suffering from amnesia and in order to defeat a malfunctioning combat suit, is forced to hook up his own brain to a computer system, and the resulting shock causes the mental conditioning to be disrupted. The Stranger arrives in England on Earth in The Terror Game still suffering from amnesia, but runs into Egan and Saul (who now believe that the Stranger, now identified as "Solomon", may have turned traitor) and Tamora Hennessay (Louise Jameson).

After Tamora reveals herself to be another Protectorate agent, Solomon escapes and goes into hiding under the name of "Preston Richards" while slowly recovering his lost memories and trying to learn whether or not he's still being affected by the Estrangement Programme. In the adventure Breach of the Peace, Egan and Saul, using the identities of Metropolitan Police detectives, track Solomon down and force him to take them back into the Web, but Metaphysic, a heavily guarded research project where an experiment in psychokinesis is being conducted by a Dr Hunter (Geoffrey Beevers) on a talented girl named Meta (Bernadette Gepheart), causes a tear in the Web that drags Solomon, Egan and Saul back to England (Eye of the Beholder) and forces them to intervene when Hunter's experiment goes out of control.

Video series[edit]

Year Title Writer Starring Doctor Who actors:
January 1991 Summoned by Shadows Christian Darkin Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Michael Wisher
January 1992 More than a Messiah Nigel Fairs Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Sophie Aldred
January 1993 In Memory Alone Nicholas Briggs Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Nicholas Briggs
January 1994 The Terror Game Nicholas Briggs Colin Baker, Louise Jameson, David Troughton and Nicholas Briggs
December 1994 Breach of the Peace Nicholas Briggs Colin Baker, Caroline John, David Troughton and Nicholas Briggs
July 1995 Eye of the Beholder Nicholas Briggs Colin Baker, David Troughton, Geoffrey Beevers and Nicholas Briggs

Another BBV production, The Airzone Solution, is sometimes erroneously listed as part of the Stranger series. In fact, it is a standalone "ecological thriller" film that, other than its cast, has no connection to either the Stranger or Doctor Who. Nicholas Briggs, meanwhile, went on to write and star in numerous Big Finish Doctor Who audio spin-offs and to voice the Daleks and other monsters in the TV series itself.

Audio series[edit]

Title Writer Starring Doctor Who actors: Notes
The Last Mission Nicholas Briggs Colin Baker, Elisabeth Sladen and David Troughton
Eye of the Storm Nicholas Briggs Colin Baker and David Troughton
Coming of Shadows Stuart Robinson and James Potter Bonus audio drama on the DVD release of Summoned by Shadows
Force of Nature Stuart Robinson and James Potter Bonus audio drama on the DVD release of More than a Messiah

Eye of the Storm is based on the video Eye of the Beholder, and while retaining the same basic plotline trims down the number of parts/actors, changes certain events and has a different ending with Meta deliberately sacrificing herself to save Solomon, Egan and Saul (whereas in the video Solomon is forced to kill Meta at her own request to save everyone).

References[edit]

  • The Stranger: The Terror EAN 5014861231621 Carlton Video 1995

External links[edit]