Gallifrey is a long-running Doctor Who audio spinoff by Big Finish, and part of the overarching Big Finish Doctor Who continuities. It takes place on the planet Gallifrey, the Doctor's homeworld (although the Doctor himself only features peripherally). The series revolves around two former companions, Romana and Leela. The former has come up in the world since her time on the TARDIS and is now Madame President of all Gallifrey; the latter becomes her trusted bodyguard and friend.
The world depicted in Gallifrey is one of political machinations, betrayal, negotiations, secrets and a fair amount of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey messing around with the timelines of the Universe. Along with Romana and Leela, other characters include the sophisticated, scheming Cardinal Braxiatel (originally introduced in the Bernice Summerfield range); the suspicious yet fiercely loyal head of the CIA, Coordinator Narvin; the ambitious Inquisitor Prime Darkel; Ace McShane, the first human CIA operative; and two versions of the robot dog K-9 (since the Doctor left K-9 units with both Romana and Leela on their departures from the TARDIS).
Although standalone, the series also builds on several existing plot threads from Big Finish. These include Braxiatel's established backstory in the Bernice Summerfield series, Charlotte Pollard's story arc and especially the events of "Zagreus", and the Jago & Litefoot audio series, which Leela occasionally appears in during her time working on Gallifrey. The stories, in general, are filled to the brim with Continuity Porn and tend to dive headfirst into unanswered questions from Doctor Who — such as the mystery behind Romana's regeneration. The range also offers a Gallifreyan perspective into the beginnings of the Last Great Time War.
Series One to Three of the show were produced between 2004 and 2006, with the final episode of Series Three ending on a massive cliffhanger. The Fourth Series was released in March 2011, and the range continues on with seasons and specials.
The series provides examples of:
- Absence of Evidence: A major factor in the inquiry into Romana's actions on Gryben, as Narvin claims that the alleged 'timeonic fusion device' with which she was threatened could not possibly exist. It turns out that he's just been covering up the fact that he himself built one and allowed it to be stolen centuries earlier.
- Ambition Is Evil: Darkel along with Pandora is the embodiment of this trope. It backfires on both, as part of Braxiatel's Batman Gambit.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Quite a bit- Leela is mocked for believing in spirits in the Matrix, yet for all intents and purposes Pandora is one, and this is a universe with a Guardian for all the Evil and Good within it.
- Ascended Extra: Darkel, who first appeared in the Sixth Doctor series 'The Trial of a Time Lord'. The Braxiatel Collection comes from a one line in 'City of Death'.
- Beleaguered Bureaucrat: Narvin. ("I'll just use my second head, shall I?")
- Big Bad: At the end of the finale, this appears to be Free Time, although this is revealed to be part of Braxiatel's plan.
- Bluff the Impostor: Chancellor Narvin does this to Romana in Eternal, by saying that they were married. It was to the relief of Romana and everyone listening that he was bluffing.
- Brainwashed: Braxiatel does this to Romana I, causing her to forget about Pandora - but also erasing all her memories of him.
- Butt-Monkey: Narvin. EVERYBODY hates him. And as CIA, he more or less expects it.
- The Cameo: Colin Baker very briefly plays Maxil, uncredited.
- Casual Kink: "I will see you later, for some...private interrogation." "I look forward to it." - Alt!Leela and Alt!Andred in Disassembled.
- Cliffhanger: A monumentous example occurs at the end of season 3, when a character is literally cut off mid-sentence. Not to mention that the entire planet is in the grip of a deadly virus and overrun by zombies, the president is trapped with no hope of escape, and another zombie is en route to the planet with a supposed 'cure' that will render the Time Lords unable to regenerate. Made even worse by the fact that Big Finish waited a further five years to release the next series, almost turning this into a Gainax Ending.
- Continuity Porn: Unlike Big Finish's main Doctor Who range or spinoffs like Benny Summerfield or Torchwood which try to be reasonably friendly to the newcomer, Gallifrey is loaded with Continuity Porn, Arc Welding, Buses Coming Back and Telling You What Happened To The Mouse. Great fun for the initiated, but undoubtedly a bit tougher for people who aren't long-time Doctor Who fans.
- Conspicuously Public Assassination: Exploited by Inquisitor Darkel for political reasons when she engineers a failed one of these against herself in order to incriminate her rival for the presidential position.
- The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: An element of Brax's past; he finds himself at the receiving end of an secret assassination order. However, then there is the happy coincidence of the assassin accidentally having a mysterious accident with some electrical equipment just as he began boasting about how much he'd like to kill Brax. As punishment, the President had Brax take said assassin's place and ordered him to kill an old man and his granddaughter. Fortunately, the President never managed to check that the order was carried out, as he himself had a mysterious and unfortunate accident involving some electrical equipment later the same day. Fortunately, an inquiry made certain that there was no wrongdoing or suspicion at all. And Brax should know; he was in charge of it.
- Crossover: Braxiatel is the same character as in the Bernice Summerfield range. With an even more direct crossover at the end of Disassembled.
- The Determinator: Romana. She may not be as sly, devious or canny as Braxiatel or other Gallifrian politicians, but she still manages to stay on top of the heap mainly through brute intellect and sheer bull-headed stubbornness, which is probably why the Doctor liked her so much - she's him, only female!
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Romana and Narvin particularly. Romana has constantly worked to improve Gallifrey and protect its people, and for her efforts was charged with treason and exiled from the Capitol. Narvin gets blown up all the time in his efforts to do his duty and abide by his loyalty to his President (especially in Series 3), and in return only gets insulted and mocked by the rest of the cast.
- Ensign Newbie: Newly appointed Castellan Wynter, who's put in charge of the investigation when the Broken Man shows up. From Bad to Worse doesn't even begin to describe his story arc.
- Everybody Has Lots of Sex: Completely averted: nobody has any sex whatsoever, and the only kiss takes place between very minor characters and is not motivated by attraction.
- Evil Chancellor: Subverted with Valyes, who is undoubtedly unpleasant but not evil.
- Likewise, Braxiatel manages to fulfil the Evil Chancellor role almost to the letter without actually being evil.
- Played straight with, of all people, Narvin in series 4, or rather an alternate version of Narvin with even less moral fibre and a hundred percent more ambition.
- Evil Counterpart: Pandora to Romana. Ridiculously abundant in Series 4, as they drop in on alternate universes.
- Fantastic Racism: The Time Lords to... well, everyone else, really. Romana's wild idea of working with other races instead of bossing them around like usual causes a few issues.
- From a Certain Point of View: Basically how Braxiatel lives his life. Lampshaded twice in Series 4 by Romana and Narvin.Romana: I want the whole truth, not some Irving Braxiatel version of it.
- Fully Absorbed Finale:
- The Companion Chronicles episodes "The Catalyst", "Empathy Games" and "The Time Vampire" end Leela's arc, which was set up here.
- And this series, in turn, concludes Ace's arc as a Time Lord Academy student, which was planned on TV during the Aborted Arc of the Cartmel Master Plan and explored further by Big Finish in the Lost Stories releases and Bernice Summerfield box sets.
- Future Me Scares Me: Romana with the Imperiatrix. Season 2 also gives us the Broken Man, whose plot is fuelled by this trope.
- Gambit Pileup: From Appropriation all the way to Mindbomb as pretty much everyone makes a grab for the Presidency, although Brax manages to take it one step further (unsurprisingly, really, who else would) by the end of Panacea.
- Heterosexual Life-Partner: Leela and Romana. (But see Les Yay.)In a similar vein, whatever tf Narvin and Torvald / Andred had going on.
- Ice Queen: This was Romana's nickname at the Academy. Also applies to Braxiatel, who was known as 'the Icicle'. Clearly this indicates how much they are made for each other.
- The Insomniac: Narvin in the episode Pandora. Played for laughs by the other characters, who comment how his guilt over spying must be plaguing his conscience to keep him awake. In actuality, Pandora is feeding off his consciousness, keeping his mind active lest sleep shut down the connection. In this context, Narvin can be seen as something of a woobie.
- Put on a Bus: Braxiatel, for over a year. Returns in grand style, though.
- Pygmalion Plot: Brax and Romana: initially he tutored her at the Academy, wiped her mind, shielded her from Pandora's influence, continued to
controlguide her until she left Gallifrey completely, shepherded her through her political career to the presidency when she returned, and throughout the series shows himself to be dedicated to saving her from harm. It is quite clear that, despite his stiff upper lip, he has grown rather fond of her.
- Canon by Gallifrey IV, which starts out with him fantasizing about asking Romana to marry him!
- Reformed, But Rejected Andred. Particularly painful when it's Leela rejecting him. And then he dies.
- Ship Tease: So very very much at the beginning of "Reborn", where Brax dreams that Narvin and Leela had decided to get married, and suggests following on a similar path with Romana. Who rejects him. In his dreams. Poor Brax. Narvin and Leela get a lot of Ship Tease in general from season 3 onwards, helped by the fact that the actors themselves really like the pairing and even had a snog at a con to demonstrate its appeal.
- Shout-Out: Among others, the Warpsmiths of Phaidon are mentioned as being among the other temporal powers. A reader of British comics might recognize them as the creations of Alan Moore and Garry Leach, from Miracleman.
- Single-Episode Handicap: Subverted by Leela in series three, where she is blinded by an explosion. Having previously been blinded and gone on to recover naturally, she insists that her eyesight will return. It doesn't - at least, not until the application of some Applied Phlebotinum in series 4.
- Smug Snake: Darkel. A particularly vicious version of this, as she is hardly unintelligent and very driven, but she has all the charm and diplomatic skills of a lump of seaweed.
- Supporting Protagonist: Narvin is unambiguously stated by series creator Gary Russell to be the protagonist, since everything that happens revolves around him, and he's the only character who cares more about the plot than about his own personal goals. However, his role to the story is always a supporting one.
- Trigger Phrase: After Brax partitions Pandora within his own mind, anything that causes him to think about her for any length of time will destroy the partition and kill him.
- Undercover as Lovers: Played for laughs with Leela's coverstory for her presence at the Peace Conference; she is disguised as a dancer whose presence was 'specially requested' by Narvin.
- Unexpected Successor: Braxiatel naming Matthias as his presidential successor rather than Romana. Of course, this was all part of the plan.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Narvin and Brax, and probably Narvin and Leela too. And Narvin and Romana. You might see a pattern here, if you squint. Obviously Narvin cannot be best buds with anyone without at least some vitriol in there.
- Volleying Insults: Bizarrely, this happens between Romana and...Romana.
Narvin: That was your plan to get her out and about again? Insulting me?Leela: It worked, did it not? Besides, insulting you is one of the few remaining pleasures I enjoy. You would not deny me that.
- Narvin and Leela in Series 4.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Pretty much everybody, with the exception of Arkadian, who is only out for himself, and Darkel, though she'd love for everyone else to think otherwise.
- White Stallion: Hilariously, Brax begins his proposal to Romana in Reborn by saying "if I had a white charger, Romana, it would be my privilege to carry you into the sunset. Large Ham indeed.