Big Finish Productions
Sympathy for the Devil

Written by Jonathan Clements Cover image
Format Compact Disc
Released 2003
What if... the Doctor had not been UNIT's advisor?

Starring David Warner and Nicholas Courtney
Also featuring David Tennant Sam Kisgart, Liz Sutherland, Trevor Littledale, Mark Wright, Peter Griffiths, Stuart Piper

Synopsis: 1997 and a lone exile arrives on Earth, years later than planned. On the eve of the Handover, an advanced Chinese stealth bomber crashes in the hills above Hong Kong. The discredited United Nations Intelligence Taskforce has just 24 hours to steal the technology, rescue the passenger and flee to international waters. The Doctor finds a world on the brink of terror. A world that has lived without him for years. A world that is frighteningly like our own...


Harmful elements in the air, cymbals crashing everywhere... by Andrew Wixon 6/7/03

I suspect there was always a danger I would approach the second Unbound release with too charitable an eye. Partly because David Warner is an actor I've always got time for, but mainly because I'm no great fan of the 'proper' Third Doctor and any alternative to the incredible right-wing hippy we ended up with is welcome. As it turns out, there are lots of things that Sympathy... does right - but a few more that it gets wrong.

This is a tough story to review without spoiling. Hong Kong in 1997, and the newly arrived alternative Third Doctor gets caught up in an international incident that fans of certain stretches of season eight will find rather familiar. Caught up alongside the Doctor in the ensuing mayhem is a much-loved mainstay of the 'proper' third Doctor's era - oh, and the Brigadier too. Hmmm - already I have said too much...

One thing rarely said about Paul McGann - lately, anyway - is what a brilliant job he did of becoming the Doctor inside of only an hour's screen time. It's a feat that becomes all the more impressive given that actors of the calibre of Geoffrey Bayldon and David Warner don't quite manage it, even appearing in much better-scripted stories. Certainly there's nothing much wrong with David Warner's performance as a slightly selfish and disinterested Doctor, he just fails to take the character to that very special level the Doctor at his best operates on. Even so, he outshines the rest of the cast - Nicholas Courtney sounds vaguely bemused throughout, and everyone else is competent. The only exceptions are David Tennant, who as the Brigadier's replacement appears to be auditioning to play Rab C Nesbit, and Sam Kisgart, who strikes a very effective note of languid sadism as - oh dearie me, is that the time? Better move on...

The story itself isn't really anything that special, though it has some neat touches and a terrific gag about a theme pub at the end. What really distinguishes it are the glimpses it offer of how the world turned out without the Doctor there to protect it. Now I'd've thought it would've all ended in a big scrum with the Nestenes, Axos, the Silurians and so on wrestling for control while the ragged human survivors hid in the rubble, but obviously this isn't the case, and the hints and clues the story drops are fun - even if the writer seems to have gotten Doctor Who and the Silurians and Invasion of the Dinosaurs a mite jumbled up in his brain. A single reference to a certain character working for the UN suggests this is a startlingly different version of history - but it isn't pursued and there are several loose ends. And the story opts for a rather inconclusive, downbeat ending, while at the same time seeming to hint that this is all the fault of... well, it's a bit unclear, actually. It surely can't be the Doctor's fault, it's not down to him that he's arrived twenty-odd years late. And it doesn't really seem like anyone else's fault, either, they had to scrape along somehow without the Doctor. Although, now I come to think about it the Doctor doesn't seem bothered either way...

I'm sorry to say that Sympathy for the Devil falls into the 'the more I think about it, the less impressed I am' category. It puts an imaginative and provocative spin on the substance of the Pertwee era (Jon would probably not have been impressed either) and while it's blessed with two strong performances from Warner and Kisgart (more from these two, please, BF), the script is ultimately confused and ambivalent about what it's trying to say. Worth listening to for sheer inventiveness and novelty value, but rather disappointing all-in-all.

Big Trouble in Little England by Liam McNicholas 12/7/03

Undoubtedly the biggest selling-point of these Unbound audios is the range of actors cast to play the Doctor, rather than what the premise of the story itself is. Like Geoffrey Bayldon before him, David Warner is given under eighty minutes to establish his character as a unique Doctor. A difficult enough task at the best of times, and arguably only William Hartnell achieved it in the television series. But these audio dramas, unlike the regular two-CD releases from Big Finish, have under eighty minutes to establish the character of the Doctor, establish the scenario and tell a story. Auld Mortality achieved this by keeping things mostly character-driven and introspective, but Jonathan Clements strives with Sympathy for the Devil to bring all the action and adventure of the Third Doctor era, especially Season 7, to 1997.

The very concept of Sympathy for the Devil is intriguing. It is hard to imagine the Brigadier and UNIT fending off all those invading aliens without the Doctor’s help, yet it appears that somehow they did it – though not without terrible loss. The result is that the Brigadier has been discredited, washed-up and now lives in Hong Kong, running the Little England bar. The world, from what we see of it in Hong Kong, appears little different from the world we know, though it appears to be far more dangerous and dark.

The central story of Sympathy is interesting and well-told, but takes a back seat to the character dramas between the Doctor and the Brigadier, and the Doctor and Ke Le. Curiously enough, the Doctor seems to know that he was meant to come to Earth in the 1970’s, not 1997. The Brigadier realises just how desperately he needed the Doctor, and as such their relationship is a little abrasive, and sometimes downright untrustworthy. The sparring between the Third Doctor and the Brigadier was a constant part of the series during Pertwee’s tenure, but the Brigadier’s bitter past means that the sparring between Warner’s Doctor and himself takes on a new, bitter meaning. Nicholas Courtney gives a fine performances as the downtrodden and beaten Brigadier, who is only slightly recognisable as the character of old. He appears to have little interest in getting involved in the story, only to the extent of being dragged around by the Doctor. However, his true fire emerges when defending his actions to the current UNIT commander, Colonel Wood.

The relationship between the Doctor and Ke Le, also takes us back to the Pertwee era, but again the Doctor’s absence during the past twenty-thirty years has made the two far more venomous and deadly than it may appear on the surface. ‘Sam Kisgart’ gives a silky and understated performance that masks a bitter anger and hatred, which occasionally shines through, especially during his scenes with the Doctor.

In story terms, Sympathy is a good action adventure story, well told and, although nothing we haven’t seen before in Who, well worth the eighty minutes of listening time.

The true test of the audio, and this can be true for the whole Unbound series, is the new Doctor. David Warner is a very different Doctor to Jon Pertwee’s. Where Pertwee was dashing and extravagant, Warner is dignified and reserved, even showing sparks of dark anger at his imposed exile. As usual with the Doctor, it is the quiet conversations and confrontations that show us just how good the actor is. It is during the wonderful talk with the Abbott, and the sinister ‘chat’ with Ke Le, that we see just how good Warner is at playing the Doctor, albeit a Doctor exiled, alone and angry.

Sympathy for the Devil is about exile on many levels. The Doctor himself, exiled to Earth and without the UNIT support group he had in the ‘real’ continuity. The Brigadier, exiled to Hong Kong after years of humiliation in England, valiantly struggling to defend the Earth from incredible forces no-one would believe. Ke Le, stranded alone on the planet waiting for the Doctor so many years. It is here that the story truly enters the realm of excellence, as the story of these three men, alone and cut off from all that they new and trusted unfolds.

Overall, Sympathy is an excellent continuation of the Unbound series. David Warner succeeds in his interpretation of the Doctor, particularly his anger at his imposed exile, and his lighter moments with the Abbott. The ending is slightly rushed, and leaves things a little too open. However, the complete product can only be judged a success

A Review by Richard Radcliffe 27/7/03

The alternative Doctor Who season continues apace with David Warner as the Doctor, and the welcome presence of the Brigadier (about time too, he's not been in nearly enough Big Finish stories). Again Big Finish get it exactly right - Bayldon was a great Doctor, and so is Warner.

If this is supposed to be the alternative 3rd Doctor, then you couldn't have got more alternative. This Doctor is nowhere the domineering dandy that was Pertwee's incarnation. Instead he brings a shadowy presence to proceedings. Warner is blessed with a distinctive voice, but not one that dominates. For the story it's a Doctor that works well.

This play is immediately enriched by the Hong Kong handover to China setting. This fascinating place provides a wonderful backdrop to the story. My brother-in-law lives in Hong Kong, and he regales us with stories about that time in history. The uneasy feeling of many, coupled with the inevitability of the handover. I enjoyed this setting, and am eager to talk to my brother-in-law more about this fascinating place that he seems to adore.

Depositing the Brigadier in Hong Kong, I was initially sceptical about. It reminded me of the Ghosts of N-Space Brigadier-weird-ancestry thing. But then the alternative nature of the story kicked in, and the Brig's presence felt okay. Here is a Brigadier who is world weary - thrown out of UNIT, and running a pub in the old empire stronghold - Little England.

I enjoyed the harsher UNIT too. It was fascinating to see how this organization had progressed without the Doctor. The reference to TV stories was kept just at the right level, yet you wanted to hear more about this alternative earth. David Tennant puts just the right amount of angriness and colourful language into Colonel Wood - has the Brigadier ever been treated so dismissively? The Brigadier is an outsider in this organization, this is miles away from the UNIT of the 70s.

Jonathan Clements, in his first, and pretty impressive, script also knows his Who. Throwing in an old monastery, and an old enemy of the Doctor's brought things more traditional - a nice counterpoint to the newness around this play. This totally feels like Doctor Who, despite the side-step - but in reality it is better than the majority of Who. This series has brought a freshness to the Doctor's exploits, and the imagination of the two writers (and Big Finish production staff) have responded well to the challenge.

I was pretty hooked on this play all the way through, and am very keen to listen to it again. The series continues impressively. 8/10

Doctor Who Unnecessary by Matthew Harris 1/9/03

Spoilers follow, simply because the story is... well, I can't say what the story is, because it's a spoiler in itself. It's tough to talk about any of this bloody thing without spoiling it completely. And the big "surprise" bit does manage to be better if you go into it blind. So be warned.

This story had the "difficult second record" problem - how do you follow the rather mighty Auld Mortality? Well, if you're Big Finish, you take the gamble of commissioning a wide-eyed newbie (Jonathan Clements) and setting him the task of writing a Pertwee story in Hell.

Does it work? Well, to quote the Simpsons, short answer, yes with an if, long answer, no with a but.

I'll talk performances and characters before I mention the storyline, because the storyline is where Sympathy both flies and dies. Okay, first, I love David Warner, he's brilliant. Look at almost any family movie from the 1980s, he's there in one of two roles: either a) the villain or b) the detached British observer who eventually comes through for the good guys.

The British professor guy in Wargames is a good example of the latter, being such an obvious Warner-made role that most people remember Dave playing him, even though he didn't. Anyway, his Doctor is probably going to become the only one in all of this series to have a definite numerical time placement. He's the third Doctor. Unbound. The Time Lords shuffled the pack differently and instead of a longshanked rascal with a mighty nose, we have David Warner, who basically plays the Doctor as choice b), but less of the detachment. It's a joy to listen to, coming across as a sort of relaxed Pertwee. And you'll be pleased to hear that he doesn't shout "Hai!" once.

Then there's Nick Courtney, who with the beard looks like some kind of polar bear. Actually, he'd look more like Father Christmas, if it wasn't for his proud military bearing. Anyway, the Brig's now running a bar in Little England, Hong Kong, having been laughed out of the military - a Doctorless UNIT being completely lost against the Nestenes, the Silurians, and so on. Courtney uses his noticeably older voice to good effect, giving his early scenes a certain sense of meaningless drudgery and ennui. Well, I thought they did. He perks up over the course of the story, though - a bit of action and suddenly he's in his element again. That's the Brigadier for you, although this world didn't really find that out. Nice touch.

However, the surrounding characters are something of a mixed bunch. I liked Trevor Littledale's buddhist Abbot chap. Something about his voice seemed to be almost always smiling, and there were definite shades of both Cho-Je and K'Anpo Rinpoche. David Tennant's Colnel Brimmicombe-Wood is wonderfully nasty - I wouldn't like to say that it was partly because of the Scottish accent, except that, well, it was - and Sam Kisgart's Ke Le - well, I'll come back to that.

That's the good ones. There's a couple of Englishmen: Adam, played by Stuart Piper, Marcus, played by Mark Wright, and one other who must have been played by Members Of The Cast because I can't see him. They share the incredibly irritating opening scene, a full five minutes of drunken behaviour on audio, which I could really have done without. After that they're pretty well faceless, Adam only distinguishing himself by getting killed. This is more Clements' problem than the actors, but it's still something of a distraction.

The other English character is Ling - nothing to do with Lucy Liu. Obviously she's English Oriental, as is the actress, Liz Sutherland, despite the name, which worried me for a split second - had Big Finish had a lapse of taste? Then I saw the picture in the sleevenotes. Anyway, Ling. Oriental, but it's established early on that She's From SLOUGH. In a very irritated voice. Now, Ling may be from Slough, but that's no reason to take it out on the rest of us. She's what's called a Brittle Woman. What this means is, she's always angry about something. When the Doctor arrives, she's angry. When she can't see the aeroplane, she's angry. When Adam (who's her boyfriend) goes in search of survivors, she's angry. She's always bloody angry. And it irritates the hell out of me. It's like Kate Warner in the first few episodes of 24. Just bloody calm down for five minutes! It takes Adam getting killed to knock some sense into her, which is a little unfair on Adam. Why should he die so his girlfriend could stop bitching for eight seconds? This, I might add, isn't Sutherland's fault. The character is scripted as so bloody annoying that she almost no chance at all of making her likeable, and doesn't. Now, that's quite a lot to say about a relatively minor character, but Ling jars on the nerves so much it's a real distraction and a point deducted from Clements' score.

Now then, that storyline. The villain of the piece is Ke Le, of course (pronounce: Kuh-Luh), who is planning to wreak some sort of havoc with something called the Ke Le Device.

That's right. It's The Mind Of Evil Redux. And Kisgart is the Master, and you will obey him.

Now this is where the "if" and the "but" come in. The fact that the story has been done before in the most literal way possible gets in the way of my enjoyment of the play. Your mileage may vary, of course, but as soon as the Brig mentioned the Ke Le Device, I distinctly remember groaning. It passed, eventually, especially since the rudements of the storyline are actually very different - the alien parasite bloke thing being a blob in a "Souljar" rather than a cheap alternative to hanging - but while it lasted, it's strangely disconcerting. It's hard to shake the feeling that, newbie or not, Clements should have found his own damn story.

But, as I say, it passed - mostly because I realised that the plot isn't the point of the play. The Mind Of Evil recapitulation is the creative equivalent of someone pointing at the sky and running away. You're looking at the Ke Le thing, making comparative notes with the original Mind. You're supposed to be paying attention to the scenario, the characters, how the what-if affected them. You see, Sympathy For The Devil at least partly solves the problem I had with Auld Mortality: that we didn't see the effects of a non-active Doctor on the universe at large. Here we at least see what's happened to Earth in the interim. And it isn't nice. In fact, like the blurb (which does a very good job at not even hinting toward the Return Of The Master...) says, this world is "frighteningly like our own". Everyone's having a barney at everyone else, basically. I'm glad that Clements didn't down go the route that Smiling Jim Mortimore (in Blood Heat) has already explored - having the world ruled by the Nestenes, or the Silurians, or the bleeding Primords or something. We're lead to assume that UNIT dealt with these problems the way they deal with everything: blow it up. Evidently, results were varied.

In all this mess, it seems that the Master's been quiet. He's been stuck on Earth these past (insert number of years here, according to own UNIT dating theory) years watching the world go down the tubes, and is now very bitter. This all comes out during a rather excellent confrontation near the end of the story. Kisgart - who incidentally is the best Master since Peter Pratt (admittedly I've not heard any of Beevers' work for BF) - brings out a layer of rising desperation which is surprisingly at odds with the layer of cheery pure evil which he has transmitted for the whole rest of the play. Just as Dave is a more relaxed Pertwee, Kisgart is a more relaxed Delgado - until that confrontation. Oh, and he actually says the catchphrase, but just the once, and with Delgado's genuine menace rather than Tony's cackling Snidely Wiplashism.

One thing I forgot to mention in the Auld Mortality review was the theme music. BF have made two versions, one by Alistair Lock, the other by Lee Mansfield. AM has the former, Sympathy has the latter, but there's not much to choose: neither one really manages to inspire me like the Derbyshire version, the 70s version, or the first 80s version. Too electronic and clinical. Hell, even Keff McCulloch's version had a certain tinny mystery about it. Still, your mileage may still vary.

So is it any good? Yes. Of course it is. But it's not great. A few slightly jarring points - the remake factor, the really irritating Ling - makes the play fall down slightly, but it's still pretty good. Only a few other things get in the way slightly: at the very end, the Doctor takes the Brig for a spin in the TARDIS. Here I thought he was beginning his exile. Silly me. Oh, and stick around after the theme music: there's a coda which will either be fun or infuriating, depending on your point of view. I thought it was both at the same time, but I'm awkward like that. Finn Clark, for example, will probably hate it. In fact, a lot of people will probably hate this play. But that's largely their problem.

Warner's way... by Joe Ford 25/9/03

Doctor Who: Unbound? Oh come on... a brand new series of Doctor Who dramas devoted to a bunch of 'what if' storylines? How desperate are Big Finish to find fresh blood in this fledgling Doctor Who universe? What if Colin Baker wasn't sacked? Oh wait they've already done that, providing us with a plethora of superior 6th Doctor adventures. What if there was a gripping historical during season 24? Done that too with the superlative Fires of Vulcan. Okay, okay... what if Peter Davison could bring some gravity to the part of the Doctor? That's a bit more tricky but blow me they've managed that too, the blandest one proving unmistakably Doctor-ish in stories such as Eye of the Scorpion and Spare Parts. Perhaps this isn't such a silly idea after all...

This is the second in the Unbound series and and the second winner so far. It's not just a case of finding some big-star name and having him have a go at being the Doctor (although that is nice), it is the very nature of these stories themselves. Auld Mortality, Marc Platt's layered script for the first part in the series, dealt with an issue that positively cried out to be explored... what if the Doctor had never left Gallifrey. The thought is daunting to say the least. The play turns out to deal with the Doctor in a very sensitive manner. This story dares to ask the question what if the Doctor was never exiled to Earth...? Another stunning question which is dealt with in such a gripping way, covering every base and telling a good Doctor Who story in the bargain. It is a clever script with little nods to the past reminding the listener just what has changed.

David Warner and Nicholas Courtney, not the first combination that springs to mind is it? Nevertheless their work together is impressive, as if they have been working together for years. I am in love with Warner's Doctor, I have been deeply critical about the man's performances in certain TV shows and films in the past (although he occasionally surprised me) but his work here is nothing short of magnificent. Such a memorable take on the character, angry, intelligent, ingenious and playful. And not above giving the odd poetic speech (Tom and Colin Baker style). It is through the Doctor's eyes that we experience all of the horror that has occured in his absence and Warner plays the confused, apologetic Doctor with real panache. His reaction as Wood dares to call the Brigadier mad is astonishing and his deal with the Devil is played with such hatred I relished every second.

Nick Courtney must have cheered when he recieved this script and its fascinating new take on the Brigadier. To witness this man rejected, a failure, exiled from his own country is quite a shock to the system when expecting the stalwart Lethbridge-Stewart of old. The Doctor mirrors our disbelief to see our once proud hero pathetic and sulking as he is here. Of course, he is still the same man underneath and throughout the course of the story it is touching to see him regain his lust for adventure, his authority and best of all his 'I can take anything!' stiff upper lip!!! I very much enjoyed his little rite of passage and I loved where he ends up at the end of the play, very apt and worth exploring further.

The story itself is a fun take on the Pertwee era with all the things you would expect to see (albeit in 1997). Military hardware, check. Grand supervillians, check. Buddhism, check. The Doc and the Brig, check. A political disaster, check. There is a real edge to the story, a real sense of threat, it could be just because there are so many decent actors involved and they manage to convey the danger with palpable ease or it could be Jonathon Clements' (let's have some more mate!) wonderful script that ties all these things up into a pacey, touching and exciting story. The dialogue is terrific (especially Wood, who like all 'ard men swears in every other sentence) and there are no weak spots. It is never slow, despite some slower, reflective moments and the climax is hugely satisfying in a way only a "what if" type of story can be. No follow up here then... we'll just have to guess...

David Tennant is worth another call and not just because his accent is drop-dead sexy, nope his performance is manic and agressive, matching the script perfectly. I perked up every time he turned up barking out orders, insulting the Brig (bastard!!!) and generally making a bit of an arse of himself. Smaller parts such as Ling and Adam are still performed with a great deal of conviction. The Abbot was excellently done by Trevor Littledale, very calm in a crisis.

Gary Russell's direction is getting better and better, this is the third story in a row I have been very impressed with the fast moving narrative, the brilliant performances and the 'shut your eyes and you're there' background sound effects. Is he improving or am I more forgiving? Whatever, this is assembled with real style, the music is especially good, this Andy Hardwick is doing some deliciously moody stuff lately. I love it.

Another success for Big Finish, after a fairly shaky start to the year they are back on track with a run of fine adventures. Sympathy for the Devil should not be ignored because it is an Unbound adventure, some of the Doctor Who audio writers should take note of its smooth narrative, imaginative ideas and gripping climax.

The bring back David Warner campaign starts here...

A Review by John Seavey 11/3/06

This one was a nice piece of storytelling. David Warner shines as the Doctor, making two excellent pieces of casting in a row, and the overall story excellently pointed up the ways that everyone -- the Brigadier, UNIT, the human race, and even the Master -- needed the Doctor to make them who they were, and how the Doctor needed all these elements to make him the man he should have been.

All the cast have a lot of fun and do a great job (special attention must be given to a pre-Tenth Doctor David Tennant as the Brigadier's irritable replacement and Mark "Sam Kisgart" Gatiss as a suave-yet-desperate Master), and the ending, while bleak, seems oddly in keeping with the idea of this Doctor as one who's not yet learned how to finish what he starts. Very good.

An Excellent "What If" Story by Matthew Kresal 23/2/09

Back in 2003, Big Finish Productions got an idea for a way to celebrate forty years of Doctor Who. The idea was to do a series of "what if" stories. These stories would be so outside the normal universe of stories that the only way to described would be Doctor Who Unbound. This story is the second story of the Doctor Who Unbound series and its "what if" is "what if the third Doctor hadn't been science advisor to the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT)?"

The story opens in 1997, the night before the UK is to hand over Hong Kong to China. A blue police box suddenly appears and a man pops out of it. And he soon realizes he's in the wrong place - or rather the wrong time. His name: the Doctor. Soon he finds an old ally now discredited after years of disasters and alien invasions. His name: Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Their reunion is interrupted by the crashing of a highly advanced Chinese stealth plane. As UNIT attempts to recover the plane and its passenger, the Doctor soon realizes he is facing an old enemy with evil plans of his own.

David Warner plays an alternate third Doctor (replacing the late Jon Pertwee). Warner's Doctor is terrific, even though the Doctor is in a daze for most of the story due to his regeneration. Nicholas Courtney (reprising his role of the Brigadier from the TV series) gets a chance to play a very different version of the Brigadier. This Brigadier is a man who has been let down and feels like he has failed in life, but it only takes a bit of prompting from the Doctor to convince him otherwise. Warner and Courtney have excellent chemistry and it's not surprising that the two have gotten another story together in the new Unbound story Masters Of War.

The story's villain is all too instantly recognizable, scheming and killing here, threatening and cowering there, and generally causing as much damage and disaster as possible. Having said that, I'll let you the listener figure out who the villain is. Needless to say who'll figure it out very quickly (at least I did).

The supporting characters fare very well too, with a highlight being Colonel Brimmicombe-Wood. Brimmicombe-Wood is a fantastic foil for the Brigadier as he, for example, shows no respect to the inhabitants of the Monastery, he is largely insensitive towards the way events have affected civilians, and he really cements the listener's dislike by referring to the Brigadier simply as "Lethbridge". As an interesting note on the actor who plays the Colonel, does the name David Tennant mean anything to you?

The story is terrific, taking many elements from the Pertwee/UNIT era stories. These include a list of UNIT"s failures under the Brigadier (The Auton invasions of Spearhead from Space and Terror of the Autons were dealt with by the "plastic purges", which caused a shortage; Captain Mike Yates took a UNIT team back into the past with several nuclear warheads to prevent the Silurians from awakening, and half of present-day London suddenly became a crater; the "Probe 7 fiasco" lead to a line of radioactive craters across America; lives were lost whenever UNIT provided security at a peace conference) and the main part of the story centers around a very strong plot element from The Mind of Evil. The ending is interesting and leaves the door open to the sequel story, Masters Of War.

Overall then, Sympathy For The Devil is a very strong story for Big Finish, and a great contribution to the Unbound range. The script sparkles and shows just how much flexibility there is with the format of basing a script around a question. In many ways, the question is more "What if the Doctor was too late?" than "What if the Doctor had never been UNIT's scientific advisor?" but both are covered very well. In short, this is a fine example of Big Finish at work.