Serial 6P/A – Fan & Phantasmagoria
Fan & Phantasmagoria
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Amiability
Serial 6P/A – Fan & Phantasmagoria -
Having abandoned Tegan during one of her hissy fits, the Doctor and Turlough are finally free of the fey ninnies they were turned into by the overabundance of estrogen, and can start a calm, mature relationship. Unfortunately, they quickly realize they have absolutely nothing in common! Turlough has no interest in cricket and although the Doctor struggles long and hard to share a passion of self-tattooing with steak knives it just doesn't work for him.
The TARDIS lands in someone's sitting room and Turlough makes himself at home while the Doctor raids the wine cellar. When the owner of the house, Gerri Halliwell arrives, Turlough offers her a game of strip poker with this set of tarot cards he's just purloined.
Turlough loses and Gerri walks out of the house with his school uniform, his watch and two corperia pieces. Suddenly, Turlough announces that the cards were marked and runs out into the night to demand his stuff back from Gerri, and promptly gets struck down in the street by a passing carriage.
As this plot seems to have run out of steam, our attention is drawn, instead, to the neighboring house where Sir Nigel Verkoff Esquire who strides London 1702 like a colossus. Just, a colossus that no one actually pays attention to.
Nigel's one desire in life is to be accepted into the Diabola Club – a libertine establishment of wine, women, demonic worship and more women. He decides to win his way in by his amazing rendition of Destiny's Child's "I'm A Survivor".
Unfortunately, the Diabola Club throw him out as not fitting the height requirements which they invented just moments ago. Annoyed, Nigel decides to take the curious step of constructing his OWN club instead, which he considers calling "The Non-Diabola Club", "The Naughty Hellfire Club" before finally setting on "The Worshipful and Ancient Sir Nigel Verkoff Esquire Fan Club."
Using the small fortune left to him by an amazingly stupid beggar who'd just won the lottery the day he was diagnosed with syphilis, Nigel buys a tavern in the up-market part of town, renovates it and arranges it to hold the best beers and hookers on the planet.
However, there is still no one willing to spend any money in his pub and, to make ends meet, Nigel assumes the identity of Sergeant Nigella Lawson and begins his career as a notorious robber, highwayman and transvestite.
It doesn't work, though, as Nigel keeps forgetting he is supposed to threaten to shoot the victims unless they pay up, not shoot them before they can hand over the cash.
Nigel decides to conduct a séance in order to contact some divine being which will allow him to get some customers, but needs more than one person. Luckily, the concussed Turlough wanders in, bitching about Gerri Halliwell. Two pints later and the young Trion is up for anything, and they begin the séance.
However, they get what is the supernatural equivalent of an answering machine, before getting interference from Radio 4. Bored, Turlough walks out again without paying for his drink and the furious Nigel chases him back to his lair – a police box in a sitting room.
The Doctor is utterly hungover but oddly enough recognizes Nigel as Nigella Lawson – one of the most famous individuals in history, ranked along side the Mad Gasser of Mantoon, and the Ninjitsu Nutter as one of the most bewildering and pointless sociopaths in all time.
In return for an autograph, photo and a good laugh, the Doctor uses his "Access All Areas" pass to get the three of them into the Diabola Club. The Doctor and Turlough fit right in, but the inhibited and nervous Nigel begins to have a panic attack when one of the exotic dancers offers him a drink. Meanwhile, the Doctor's morbid fear of the Macarena – and the effect of several mixed drinks – causes him to run screaming into the night. Turlough sighs and goes after him.
Suddenly, Nigel is attacked by the Shadow – a highwayman reputed to be half-way to becoming the next Robin Hood as soon as he starts giving the money he steals from the rich to the actual poor.
The horrified Nigel surrenders to a real robber, and is shocked to learn it was Gerri Halliwell all along!
Suddenly, Gerri reveals she is from another world, having hired a ship to take her in pursuit of the man who killed her parents - the notorious psychopath Carthok of Daodalus.
Suddenly, Turlough re-enters and snaps, "Kamelion, stop messing about! The Doctor's gone mental again!"
To Nigel's horror, Gerri transforms into a gleaming metal android that jerks to the exit, bitching how with Tegan gone he should be the main companion, damn it.
Nigel thinks about this long and hard and takes a weekend off.
Book(s)/Other Related -
Doctor Who, Mary Sue and Turlough
How To Fit Your Characters Into Someone Else's Format by Rob Shearman
Nigel Verkoff's Wacky Weekend
The Doctor manages to empty the entire wine cellar down his throat in four seconds - alien physiology? Or crappy editing?
Fashion Victims -
All those fops and dandies with their wigs and rouged faces – and the guest cast are even worse!
Links and References -
The Doctor curses himself for not stealing Vansell's Type 70 TARDIS when he had the chance, in "The Tarrants of Time".
Untelevised Misadventures -
The Doctor notes that the room in the TARDIS where he found his cricket whites also contains a 1928 edition of Wisden's Almanac, and a mummified Jamaican bob-sleigh team.
Groovy DVD Extras -
The alternative title sequence featuring a montage of clips from the aborted "Nige" TV pilot.
Dialogue Disasters -
Doctor: What's it come to when two fellows can't ride the King's road unmolested by a pretty lass??!
Halliwell: What are these?
Turlough: Currency – they're corperia pieces. You blow through them for good luck... No, not with a GUN!!
Dialogue Triumphs -
Turlough: Have you heard of this Diablo club?
Nigel: Oh Indeed. It has quite a reputation. Many a young fellow has been wrecked on it's scandalous shore - drinking, wenching, gambling! DAMN IT! WHY DON'T THEY LET ME JOIN??
Doctor: Hello. I've come to clean the pool.
Nigel: Oh, if you only knew how long - the endless empty years, waiting, waiting... to escape the narrow confines of my pants; to split asunder the coffin of my virginity and once more tread among the tarts.
Nigel: What game do I play? The Long Game, my friend. The Long Game!
Doctor: I prefer "Aliens of London", myself.
Viewer Quotes -
"If Fan & Phantasmagoria is any indication of what Doctor Who as an audio series is like, then Big Finish are dead meat. I doubt that they'll last the first year. Doctor Who is dead."
- Daniel O'Mahony (1999)
"Noisy, spooky and evocative with satanic gamblers, the air full of phantom prostitutes and men burning like candles in the street, it's a breeding ground for sin and lust - until that Verkoff idiot turns up!"
- Father James O'Malley (2000)
"There was something about Strickson's performance that didn't ring true... like a root beer float made with freezer-burned ice cream."
- The Unpublished Target Novel "Doctor Who and the Cooking Analogies"
"Fan & Phantasmagoria makes for a fantastic addition to Big Finish's audio adventures, still the best after fifty-one releases bar NONE! The supporting characters are superb too, with Verkoff - quite clearly the scheming baddie from the word go - one of the best villains in all Doctor Who. All in all this tale contains all the right ingredients for GREAT sci-fi – okay, it's a complete rip-off of The Protons, but who really cares deep down? It's the favorite story of any NORMAL person, and only subhuman Who-wanking freaks wouldn't enjoy this audio more than life itself! The perfect recreation of Season 21! The cliffhangers alone trigger multiple orgasms! It's not just great! It's not just amazing! IT'S... AMAZINGLY AMAZING! NIGEL VERKOFF IS GOD!!!"
- EC Unauthorized Guide Exclusive Interview with Nigel Verkoff (2004)
Psychotic Nostalgia -
"Nigel, huh? What a wanker."
Peter Davison Speaks!
"When I started in Doctor Who, I had no idea how to play the part. I was too young, but now I feel old enough to play the Doctor. Mark, on the other hand, is trying to sound as young as possible, the sad, middle-aged git."
Rumors & Facts -
Nigel Verkoff was life-long fan of Doctor Who – his first sight being the artistically-justifiable full-frontal nudity of Terminal in 1983. Immediately a fan, Verkoff was first thrown into the media spotlight when, at the tender age of 11, he lost control of himself during a repeat of The Robots With Breasts and began humping the television. 'HORNY TEEN ELECTROCUTED DURING TV-RAPE' was one of the more memorable headlines during the inquest.
Verkoff failed all his high school exams and immediately applied for work in the BBC, in order to produce a new TV show that would be Doctor Who in all-but-name (and format, in order to be doubly certain).
However, the BBC were less-than-enthusiastic about "Doctor Spoon & Chamber And Not The Other Way Round", an expensive sitcom filmed entirely in Australia and requiring such things as filming aboard Concorde which would then explode, starting genuine bush fires, assassinating various Australian politicians and also generally paying actors more than half a cheese sandwich and a photo of The Radio Times.
It was while waiting in a cue that Verkoff encountered Gay Russell as he performed his daily beg for the license to produce new Doctor Who stories. Big Finish was also not immediately prepared to start a series about the antisocial internet-addict Rupert Woosing-Gard or his wacky American lodger Chamber as they desperately recreated Doctor Who plots without annoying any lawyers.
When Big Finish finally secured the rights for new, four-episode stories featuring the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors they immediately found that there was an endless supply of ready scripts from uber-fan Nicholas Briggs in his insane desire to become a canonical Doctor.
Politely refusing the script but still demanding he do most of the work, Russell explained that the next thirteen stories were already booked and hastily roped in Verkoff to write the first single-Doctor story, starring the fifth Doctor and Turlough during the only apparent gap in the former's travels: five minutes between Erection of the Dustbins and Mammaries of Fire.
Verkoff instantly watched the two stories and began a thumbnail sketch about this period and realized that absolutely nothing in anyway interesting whatsoever could be allowed to happen in the story, for otherwise the Doctor and Turlough would have mentioned it on screen. Thus, he decided that his story would not have the Doctor and Turlough do anything and instead focus on an amazingly charismatic central character of his own devising – Nigel Verkoff.
Using a lot of material for his aborted semi-autobiographical television series "Nige", Verkoff managed to pad out the four parter with only around fifteen minutes devoted to the Doctor, Turlough and Kamelion.
The story's title went through various stages, from Nigel Verkoff And The Chamber of Bloody Maries to Nigel Verkoff Shags Restoration England to Doctor Who Versus The Architect of Cool – Nigel Verkoff before Nicholas Briggs knocked him unconscious and gave him a stutter that took several months of painful speech therapy to reverse. This is why the final title, Phantasmagoria Is In Nigel Verkoff's Pants, was misinterpreted as Fan & Phantasmagoria.
Noting that the former two characters were defined by their interaction with Tegan, Verkoff decided to make sure her absence was a fulcrum missing from the relationship – which promptly fell apart.
Thus, Fan & Phantasmagoria featured the Doctor and Turlough as middle-aged work colleagues on a business trip together, each on the lookout for something to do rather than actually talk to this stranger they've been paired off with. This allowed him to cut-and-paste a lot of his Doctor Spoon/Chamber material with minimal effort.
As the second Big Finish Doctor Who release EVER, fandom was understandably stunned to find a story not totally dependant on past tales and littered with complicated continuity references. As a quantity surveyor put it, "Fan & Phantasmagoria isn't half as bothered about Doctor Who continuity as my great aunt Patricia!"
This revelation gave Fan & Phantasmagoria a kind of critic-proof shield that meant its lack of Doctor Who material was to be commended, despite the fact the Fifth Doctor barely makes a cameo would be damned when a similar move was attempted in Sphincter of the Adept.
Verkoff decided to cut his losses and quit Big Finish while he was ahead and quickly started the Official Billie Piper Fan Club – which he promptly dissolved when he realized the actress was already married.
Since Fan & Phantasmagoria he has been squatting in a Federation cottage in Sydney with the only two people in the southern hemisphere more screwed up than he is.
You can contact him on a 1800 number to hear his opinion on India Fisher and indeed Doctor Who in general and it saves a lot of work looking for quotes for a program guide. Honest.