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Recap / Big Finish Doctor Who 111 The Doomwood Curse

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The Sixth Doctor and Charley Pollard (nee, Smith) have travelled through time to return an (300 years!) overdue library book to the Great Library on Alexandria IV.

They overhear some Grel planning something, and after stopping their scheme, the Doctor lets slip that Dick Turpin's career had been greatly embellished and he wasn't half as notorious as history would make him out to be. Unfortunately the book the Doctor wanted to return went went up in flames so they travel back to 1738 to get a new copy.

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But a murder has taken place, something has followed them, and the Doomwood Curse threatens to engulf the Earth in less than 48 hours.


  • Action Girl: Gypsy Charlotte, as a highwayman (even if a romantisized version), is a far more able person than the Charlotte Doomwood before her.
  • Adaptation Name Change: The Broomwood family become the Doomwood family, due to the Grel particles mingling reality and fiction.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Charlotte practically melts at the idea of a Highwayman, thinking they're all dashing swashbucklers.
  • Batman Gambit: The Doctor pulls one on himself and Charley.
  • Birthmark of Destiny: This convinces Charley she's John's sister.
  • Comically Missing the Point: The Grel don't seem to appreciate why they're having such a hard time finding "good facts" when they are in the Fiction section of the library. Fortunately for them, they have a way around that.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Charlotte, when she discovers that she has been courting her "brother", jumps through a window in apparent suicide...and just so happens to land on the horse the priest rode in on without a single wound. The Doctor is rather more indignant at the contrivance than Charlotte running off.
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    • The ending for the Broomwoods, albeit a more positive example; Susan the maid is, in reality, the long lost Broomwood daughter, identified by the pendant Charley received from Dick Turpin while in her Gypsy Charlotte persona. The Doctor and Charley quietly discuss this as the Broomwoods celebrate, and decide that reality can sometimes be stranger than fiction.
  • Crossover: The Grel particles start spreading out halfway through the story, causing other books to start becoming real as well.
  • Cthulhumanoid: The Grel.
  • Defictionalization: What the Grel machine does In-Universe, and what makes it so dangerous once broken.
  • Doomed by Canon: Gypsy Charlotte is said to be killed by her best friend, foretold by both her adopted mother and the Doomwood curse. Though Charley doesn't die, she does note that Gypsy Charlotte does perish from her "best friend", the Doctor.
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  • Easy Amnesia: Charlotte becomes fogged by the Doomwood curse and becomes strangely acclimatized in the time period.
  • Everybody Lives: In a surprise twist ending, everyone who died from the Doomwood curse is revealed to be alive again. The only exception is Black Bess, although she was a fictional construct.
  • Faking Amnesia: Charley is still pretending to be amnesiac to protect the web of time. Ironically, she gains genuine amnesia in this story and isn't amused when she recognizes the fact.
  • Hereditary Curse: The Doomwoods (formerly the Broomwoods) have one. The Doctor doesn't buy it for a second, but takes it to heart when Charley (in her Charlotte Doomwood persona) is threatened by it. He may not believe in it, but the world clearly does.
  • The Highwayman: Rookwood is notorious for them.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Dick Turpin gains several under the effects of the Grel, including a Robin Hood style of operating, Black Bess and Gypsy Charlotte.
  • Logic Bomb: The Doctor does this to the Grel with "Fact: This sentence is true. Additional fact: Previous sentence was false." The Grel manage to get around it by simply disregarding the facts, although by that point the distraction serves it purpose.
    • Dick Turpin is hit with one himself once he absorbs more Grel particles, although with him it's more on how his real and fictional selves clash.
  • Meaningful Name: Being named Broomwood implies a staid lifestyle. Being named Doomwood doesn't convey that much about your life except that it will probably be short.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Zigzagged a bit; the deaths and damage at the Broomwood manor, while it was the Doomwood manor, are undone by the story's end, but the pendant Charley got from Dick Turpin is still with her and Dick Turpin has absconded to a new area.
  • Nobody Poops: Due to the Grel particles, nobody actually wears down when travelling unless the plot actually demands it, with bathroom breaks being something nobody required either. Charley casually laments the loss of this bonus once she regains her mind.
  • Planet of Hats: The Grel are a single-note alien race virtually always played for broad comedy. While their inability to comprehend the idea of fiction could be simple Culture Clash if treated seriously, the Grel typically play another story role.
  • Plot Device: The Doctor literally calls Charlotte one due to the effects of the Grel's machine.
  • Reality Warper: The machine the Grel were employing causes fictional events to become real. Though they initially seem to be simply affecting peoples' minds, the way that they affect the passing of time and create Black Bess implies that they distort reality itself.
  • Shout-Out: When stating "Facts" the Grel state, among others, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" and "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth".
  • Sudden Name Change: The Grel particles tend to evoke these changes in people in order to make them fit their new fictional personas. Charley goes through two identities, as a member of the Doomwoods and then as Gypsy Charlotte, while the Broomwoods themselves go through a rather thorough change into the Doomwoods. Even the Doctor is hit with this once. The only person who doesn't go through such a change is Dick Turpin himself, simply because his name already matches his fictional persona.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: How Lord Doomwood meets his end.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: Once the Grel particles start spreading, time starts becoming more relative depending on what the plot is actually focused on. At different points in the story, a single eventful night lasts at most a few hours, whereas an uneventful carriage ride spends ten hours getting nowhere without wearing down the travelers. The Doctor and Eleanor submit themselves to the particles later on in order to make sure they actually arrive to the final scene on time.
  • Tempting Fate: Charley ends the story with a "What could possibly go wrong?"
  • Trapped in TV Land: The particles from the Grel's machine turns Charley's book into a form of reality. However, due to the book being barely a spine with fragments of the pages, it needs to draw from Charley to make anything coherent. Things become rather more dire when the particles spread further out, and people start believing themselves to be characters in other books.
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