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3.9 out of 5 stars7
3.9 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 11 December 2011
In common with The Elite (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories), the previous release in this series, "Hexagora" did not reach the full script stage when it was submitted to the television production team in the 1980s. Therefore, writer Paul Finch had a fairly free hand when it came to adapting Peter Ling and Hazel Adair's original storyline into a four-part audio adventure.

Even so, the end result differs quite substantially from previously published synopses of this tale, in which, for example, Queen Zafia [sic] is a Time Lady and the principal kidnap victim is a professor rather than an old flame of Tegan (Janet Fielding). Admittedly, the alien abduction of scientists has been done before, in Doctor Who - The Time Warrior [DVD]. Some of the differences might be explained by the fact that Ling and Adair's submission went through at least three versions when it was pitched for television: a six-part Peter Davison serial, a four-part Davison serial, and a two x 45-minute adventure for Colin Baker's Doctor. The title has also been changed from its original "Hex", to avoid confusion with the Big Finish character of the same name.

A common thread throughout all versions is the notion of the Doctor getting engaged. The idea isn't so surprising nowadays (David Tennant and Matt Smith's Doctors have been married on- or off-screen at least three times in recent years), but it certainly would have been back in the 1980s. In context, as part of a Peter Davison story, the Doctor's betrothal still makes for some dramatic scenes.

Other ideas, such as a replica of Tudor London and the true nature of certain insectoid beings, are even wackier, but they are developed somewhat less successfully. They all fit together quite beautifully in the final episode, and Finch makes some good points about human nature along the way, but the ultimate resolution is disappointingly swift and easy.

Among the guest cast, Jacqueline Pearce ("Blake's 7", Doctor Who - The Two Doctors [1985] [DVD] [1963]) stands out as Queen Zafira. In a rare instance of timeless casting, Pearce fits the regal role as perfectly now as she would have done back in the '80s. Toby Hadoke (Moths Ate My "Doctor Who" Scarf,Robophobia (Doctor Who)) is vocally dexterous in multiple roles, though I wasn't entirely convinced by his Australian accent as Mike Bretherton. It doesn't help that he has to deliver a stereotypical line involving a barbie and beer. The regulars are dependable as ever, tackling a script that, for a change, acknowledges the differing social status of Tegan and Nyssa (Sarah Sutton).

Simon Robinson's incidental music doesn't quite get the period right, often sounding more like the work of Keff McCulloch during Sylvester McCoy's time than any Davison-era composer. Another track seems to begin with the opening notes from the theme to "Emmerdale"!

All in all, "Hexagora" is interesting, but, unlike the Doctor, I wasn't entirely engaged by it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 June 2015
Marriage beckons for the Doctor in an intricate Elizabethan costume drama in Tudor London, with many twists: it's not Earth, it's not London, she's Queen Zafira, not Elizabeth I and she's married already ... 4* (4 episodes, 2 hours)

`Hexagora' is a clever and involved story by Paul Finch from an original storyline by Peter Ling and Hazel Adair. If you prefer your `Doctor Who' adventures to be space battles and epic campaigns, this story might not be as you like it, but if you sometimes like a dialogue-rich mystery that takes even the Doctor a while to solve, then all's well that ends well because this stylish story is for you.

The Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa are enjoying a short break in the Antipodes - near Brisbane to be exact - but while the Doctor watches some cricket and Nyssa relaxes after the trauma of Florana and The Elite, Tegan is looking for old friends - and finding trouble. Her almost-boyfriend Mike Bretherton (Toby Hadoke) has gone missing while investigating other missing people and nobody can find him. Luckily, Tegan knows a man who can and he happens to be on Earth right now...

What starts as a story of alien abduction becomes a complex adventure on the planet Luparis, in a city that's a close replica of Tudor London, complete with the powerful Queen, squabbling Lords and the rowdy, tavern-going people. Their society is in trouble; the once lush planet is now facing a winter of Antarctic cold, the once ordered population that actually welcomed the absolute rule of their Queen is now raucous and unruly, and the Lords who maintained unity and order are competing for power. It sounds just like Olde England, but it really shouldn't - this world also has strange technology, space travel and something scuttling in the dark corners of the city...

I enjoyed `Hexagora' for the clever plot, great dialogue and guest performances and the splendid soundscape of an alternative Tudor London. Peter Davison has some entertaining antics as the Fifth Doctor, fencing with words with scientist-astrologer Astorius (Sean Brosnan) and fencing with swords with hot-tempered Lord Zellenger (Dan Starkey), the Queen's husband. The companions of the Doctor often put on a posh frock in the historicals, but this time it's he that has to dress up in the local garb, complete with a huge ruff collar and (Rassilon help us!) tights. Luckily, it's audio only!

Both companions are well written in this adventure and balanced in the plot. Janet Fielding is at the centre of the story, playing Tegan doing what Tegan does, digging into the antisocial back alleys of the city and finding trouble and a familiar face - in a way. Sarah Sutton has a very good role as Nyssa in this story, where she's trying to recover from being inducted into `the Elite' as a genius in the previous story.

Here again, Nyssa finds herself at the top of society, but now it's for her noble status as a Consul of Traken - a status which attracts Lord Jezzavar (Richard Mark) and which Nyssa uses cleverly as the story unfolds. Jezzavar is *also* the Queen's husband and shares mutual antagonism with Zellenger; two excellent guest performances make their fractious status as `husbands-in-law' (but never king) a highlight. Neither of them is pleased to find the Doctor might *also* become the Queen's husband, but nobody argues with Queen Zafira for long; in the past they never argued with her at all...

Queen Zafira is played perfectly by Jacqueline Pearce in another welcome return to `Doctor Who'. Imperious, clever and increasingly ruthless, she is willing to do whatever it takes to find an antidote to the advancing cold and save her people, even at the potential cost of other lives. But is she truly evil or driven by desperation? The Doctor needs to know - after all, he is going to marry her...

The parallel between the structure of this `Tudor' society and its actual Earth equivalent is so well written that I was able to anticipate that part of the mystery, but there were many more twists to come. Every time the Doctor thinks he has the answer, there's another turn until finally he's left with no choice and he's faced with the altar and his royal bride, but which way will the Queen decide when her hand is forced - for better, or for worse?

The atmosphere, writing and music of this story captures the early 1980s era perfectly, so it was a pity to find one satirical comment on sedition and detention without trial that was obviously a modern reference and broke the illusion, if only for a moment; for the rest of the time, it could have been 1982. The cliff-hangers don't have that much impact, perhaps because the story felt like more of a continuous play that had to be broken into four episodes for the sake of convention. And the explanation of the global cooling (dark spots on their sun) is, as far as I know, wrong and should be the reverse! According to the Internet, more sun spots mean more solar activity not less - but these are minor criticisms that don't detract from the vision that lies behind the `Tudor' façade, and gives us glimpses of distant worlds and strange beings.

This is a very unusual `Doctor Who' in some ways, not least the ending, which is practically unique as far as I remember. The postscript to the story left me with a big smile on my face, both for a nice (and clever) final twist and two fun performances by Jacqueline Pearce and Dan Starkey, showing a new side to their characters and that queens and their kings may be found in more than one Olde London Town.

I particularly enjoyed the documentary tracks for this story, found at the end of each disk, with lively contributions from the cast and crew. The CD booklet has interesting writer's notes, cast photos and also CGIed pictures of the cast in character. But not one of the Doctor in a big ruff collar and tights!

SPOILER NOTE:
The final scene between `Beth' and `Bill' back on Earth (the `host' bodies for Zafira and Zellenger) mentions how she was the `queen' he married at a Bethnal Green church. From that and the Cockney accents I wondered if they might have been two of the traditional `Pearly Kings and Queens' of the East End, collected by the Hexagora pods due to a cultural misunderstanding when they were looking for a suitably `royal' couple! Just a guess, but if so, a great idea!
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 29 November 2015
This is one of the series of Lost Stories produced as full cast audio dramas by Big Finish. These are stories which, for various reasons, were written, or had story ideas drawn up for various Doctors in the tv series, but were never made. Big Finish have released nearly 30 of these Lost Stories so far, and they’re a brilliant chance to hear stories that we might have seen on tv, had circumstances been different; and a great opportunity to hear stories of their time, written for the Doctor of the time.

This story, released in 2011 (the second story of Series 3 of the Lost Stories) was originally prepared in outline by Peter Ling (The Mind Robber) and Hazel Adair. It has a real ‘classic’ feel to it, but it has of necessity been reworked as a 2-hour full cast audio drama, and very well, by Paul Finch. It features the Fifth Doctor, travelling with Nyssa and Tegan, and takes place after the Lost Story The Elite, which itself takes place after the tv story Arc of Infinity. So Tegan has returned to travelling with the Doctor and Nyssa in this period.

Tegan, Nyssa and the Doctor are taking a break in Australia, and enjoying the relaxation when Tegan learns that her old boyfriend is missing; as an investigative journalist, she fears the worst. The Doctor agrees to help her, and when he finds clues as to what’s happened to Mike, the team head off in the Tardis to Lupara, a peaceful and tropical planet the Doctor has visited before. But when they get there, Tegan finds herself sceptical of the Doctor’s piloting of the Tardis; they seem to have landed in Elizabethan England, and it’s not long before they find themselves objects of interest to the powers of the land.

This is a great story, in that it has a real ‘space alien’ feel to it, as well as an historical aspect. So it has a broad scope, and a very good world building feel to it. It’s hard to imagine how it would have worked on tv in the 1980s; budget constraints would have curtailed a lot of the huge arena and world in which this story fits, but which is ‘shown’ to us very successfully in this audio medium. Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and Peter Davison do a great job in their roles. And they are supported by a brilliant guest cast, including Jaqueline Pearce as Queen Zafira (marvellous to hear the voice of Servalan again), Dan Starkey as Lord Zellenger, Richard Mark as Lord Jezzavar, Sean Brosnan as Astorius, and Toby Hadoke who plays a number of roles, and all brilliantly well. The only small quibble I have about this production is the music – it was awful! Some of it sounded like very old Nokia ringtones, and all of it clashed horribly with the story as it unfolded, and jingled and jangled horribly in the background of far too many scenes. It was rather distracting, and musically discordant.
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on 20 December 2011
It takes a while with Hexagora to discover that this wordy tale, low on action but high on ideas, is surprisingly well written. The ideas hold together, the regular cast are excellent (Tegan has a few super lines), and after feeling badly let down by the last 'Missing Story' the further I progressed through Hexagora the more I could see what the writers had tried to achieve. The cliff hangers don't convey the excitement they should, and this isn't amongst the very best of Big Finish, but all congratulations for producing a Doctor Who story that treats its audience as reasonably intelligent.
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In all the years when Doctor Who has been produced for television there have been plenty of stories and scripts that were written for it,but which never, for various reasons, got to the tv screen.

This is the latest in a series of Doctor Who audio plays which takes these lost tales, adapts them for audio, and gives us a chance to hear what might have been.

It features Peter Davison as the Doctor, plus Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton as companions Nyssa and Tegan.

It's set right after previous lost story The Elite (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories) but only a couple of bits of dialogue reference that and those who haven't heard that story should have no trouble getting into this one.

This one runs for four episodes of twenty five minutes each [approx] and is spread over two cd's.

Amongst the guest cast is Jacqueline Pearce, famous for playing Servalan in Blake's Seven.

Here she plays Queen Zafira, leader of an alien race on a world called Luparis. A world that the TARDIS crew come to when looking for a victim of alien abduction. Luparis is not what they are expecting because the place is a replica of Tudor London. And the inhabitants look and act as if they could have come from there.

Whilst the Doctor gets to know the Queen a bit too closely for his liking, Nyssa and Tegan find that the planet has secrets.....

The usual Doctor Who audio stories from big finish are written especially for audio and they can do things that tv stories can't, as they have few constraints on running time and the visuals are limited only by the imagination.

The lost stories, being scripts that started out as tv stories, are different in style as a result. And do often work best when thy feel like something you could have seen on tv at the time.

Hexagora scores highly in that respect, as you can imagine this is something the bbc of the 1980's could have gotten to screen easily without many problems.

It has an excellent guest cast. Jacqueline Pearce clearly enjoys her role and makes Zafira a very three dimensional character, never going over the top. Sean Brosnan as Astorius, the typical troubled scientist who gets on better with the Doctor than angry military men, is also worthy of note thanks to some excellent voice acting.

But whilst the first episode does contain some great set up, this is a bit too static in episodes two and three, the story progressing slowly simply via character conversations. Things do liven up with some decent bits of action at the end of both.

The plot is well worked though and does contain some good surprises, keeping things moving along nicely and with a few good twists and turns.

On tv this would have been an average story. So whilst it's not quite as strong as the Elite, it's not bad, and if you're looking for something to remind you of evenings in the 1980's watching the Fifth Doctor on tv, this should more than suffice.

There's a trailer for the next lost story The Children of Seth (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories) after the end of part four.

And there's eleven or so minutes of interviews with cast and crew after part two on disc one [these do contain some spoilers for episodes three and four so you may want to leave them till after you've heard those]. And nineteen or so more minutes of these interviews at the end of disc two.
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on 3 January 2012
After The Elite (Doctor Who: The Lost Stories), which works as a very strong audio in its own right, and as a decent representation of what the television production would have been like, this story is weak in all aspects bar the casting and their performances. There are some good ideas, but then there are in all Doctor Who stories. Hexagora is the poorest Big Finish audio production bearing the Doctor Who logo.

I took no pleasure from listening to this, but as I have, I will pick two elements to try and promote it. One, it is an accurate representation of the era it is from. If The Elite was equivalent in quality to Earthshock, then Hexagora is equivalent to Time-Flight. I am sure Big Finish are not setting out to create a bad product, just as JN-T was not with Time-Flight. However, sometimes many things conspire at the same time to yield something very substandard. Time-Flight is my least favourite Doctor Who television story and Hexagora (from over 400) is my least favourite Doctor Who audio. Two, the most interesting part of Hexagora is Tegan's surprise potential love interest in someone from her past. This is the best part of the whole story, and ironically so totally unrepresentative of anything Tegan-related we ever had.

Truly awful and representative of the truly awful aspects of Doctor Who television, for which ironically it deserves to be elevated from one to two stars. On Amazon 2 stars means I don't like it, and there is very little Doctor Who I don't like. What a waste of a good cast and a production time slot that could have been used to make something else.
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on 18 December 2013
Well recommended. Great item and breand new. Great addition to anyones collection. A must for any avid fans. Worth it.
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