Wildthyme at Large
by Paul Magrs
Wildthyme at Large
Written by Paul Magrs
Directed by Gary Russell
Post Production and Music by Joseph Fox

Katy Manning (Iris Wildthyme), Ortis Deley (Tom), David Benson (Panda), Ann Bryson (Mida Slike), Stephen Chance (The Head), Duncan Wisbey (Robin Hood), Lucy Beresford (Lucretia), Lizzie Hopley; Simon Guerrier (Fans).

‘Apparently, it has been ten years since Tom’s adventures aboard Iris Wildthyme’s transdimensional double-decker bus. Tom has now settled into a life of writing weird and wonderful novels (his description; I call them schlocky) about his erstwhile friend in order to support himself and, of course, his best real friend, me! One small, highly intelligent and terribly sophisticated Panda.

Then, one night at a book launch, there was a ruckus in the signing queue. Suddenly, the loud-mouthed floozy of the multiverse was back in his life, no, our lives... I ask you, how rude is that? Anyway, she embarrassed him in front of his fans and caused a punch up. Before Tom even knew it, Iris had entrusted him with her most precious possession, ridden off into the night with Robin Hood, and revealed that she was being hunted by evil forces from a higher dimension... Of course, they both needed me to save the day...’

          - Panda (X)

  • This is the first audio in Big Finish's New Worlds series featuring Iris Wildthyme.
  • Released: November 2005

  • ISBN: 1 84435 145 9

Iris Wildthyme’s former travelling companion, Tom, has written a number of books about his adventures with Iris, which he has passed off as science fiction. The books have acquired critical acclaim in literary circles, and although certain sci-fi fans criticise his preference for literary experimentation over plot and character development, they secretly wish that they could have the kind of adventures Tom describes. But just as Tom’s starting to make a name for himself, one of his signings is interrupted by Iris herself, who demands a free copy of his latest novel for old times’ sake and is basically just disruptive in general. Feeling guilty about the way he’s portrayed Iris in his novels, Tom invites her out to pizza after the signing, but this doesn’t stop her from starting a fight at the wine and cheese table when one of Tom’s fans patronises the effort she’s put into her “costume.”

(drn: 65'57")

Over dinner, Tom complains that the ruckus at the signing means he’ll never be invited back to that chain of bookshops again, but still, he’s too guilty to push things too far. Iris picks the anchovies off of her pizza while fishing for compliments from Tom, claiming that she’s been miserable and lonely ever since he stormed out on her. She also tells Tom that he’s the only one she trusts to hide something valuable for her: a jewel from the mines of Marleon, which she acquired while travelling with Jenny, the policewoman who got the runs whenever she travelled through Time. Iris claims to be on the run from powerful and dangerous forces, and she asks Tom to protect the crystal, into which she has placed all of her memories for safekeeping. Tom is distracted when a robber and his gang burst into the restaurant and begin, reasonably politely, to divest the diners of their jewellery. Iris gives Tom the crystal, thanks him for his help, and hitches a ride away with the leader of the bandits. The frustrated Tom realizes that, bizarre as it may seem, Iris is, typically, in league with Robin Hood and his Merry Men.

When Tom returns home, his stuffed Panda toy is waiting up for him. Panda is already rather upset about having been left behind while Tom went to the signing, and is even more upset to learn that he missed an opportunity to meet Iris. He also realises that Tom was half-hoping that Iris would whisk him off on another ludicrous adventure, and that Tom might very well have abandoned Panda had the opportunity arisen. Offended, Panda accuses Tom of exploiting Iris’ life in order to make a career writing schlocky novels, and Tom realises that he can’t defend himself. He feels even guiltier when he realises that she trusts him to protect the crystal containing all of her hopes and dreams, when he’s no better than the evil forces that she claimed were trying to steal her memories. In a way, this is exactly what Tom has been doing.

Meanwhile, Iris hides out in Sherwood Forest with Robin Hood and his Merry Men, who are sheltering her in exchange for her assistance in travelling through Time to rob the rich further afield. Unfortunately, their camp was left unguarded when they launched their raids on other eras, and Little John -- a tiny figure barely tall enough to make himself heard -- informs Robin that the Sheriff of Nottingham has raided the camp and kidnapped Maid Marion and Friar Tuck. The Sheriff is apparently offering to trade his hostages for Iris and her bus, and although Iris suggests running away, Robin instead has his men seize her and drag both her and the bus to the Sheriff’s castle. Iris vows revenge on her former ally as the Normans emerge from the castle and surround them both.

When Tom recovers from his hangover the next morning, he decides to tell his publisher, Mida Slike, that he’s decided to stop writing Iris Wildthyme novels. He reluctantly allows Panda to accompany him to the publishing house, Satan and Satan Ltd. Mida’s secretary, Lucretia, ushers them into the publisher’s office, and despite Tom’s efforts to silence him, Panda tries flirting with Mida and offers to submit his own memoirs for publication. Panda is subsequently offended when Mida dismisses him as a curiosity and changes the subject back to Tom’s novels. Tom’s mainstream sales skyrocketed when he blurted out, during a television interview, that all of his stories were true, thus acquiring a celebrity reputation as an eccentric alien abductee. However, he now admits to Mida that he started writing about Iris in a fit of pique, and now he feels guilty and has decided to stop. Mida doesn’t take this news well...

Iris finds the Sheriff’s castle creepy and unsettling, and is unnerved by the silent soldiers, who act like zombies or automata. Even Robin seems unnerved, and while he’s distracted, the Normans suddenly retreat, leaving both Iris and Robin locked up in the castle dungeons. As Robin tries to pick the lock, he questions Iris about the jewel she displayed the other night, and suggests that it might serve as recompense for all the trouble he’s been put to. Iris dismisses the jewel as a trinket with sentimental value only, but he continues to push her -- until she realises that he’s not Robin Hood at all, but an agent of her enemies. Robin drops his charming facade to reveal that he is in truth a rather weedy, officious bureaucrat in the employ of a higher power. Now that he has been found out, he drags Iris out of the dungeons to meet his master, an extra-dimensional entity that has taken the form of a talking, severed head on a spike. The Head teleports itself, Robin and Iris out of the castle to Iris’ bus, and offers to restore Iris’ freedom in exchange for the crystal containing her memories. It then finds that it can’t sense the crystal’s presence on her, but Robin realises that she must have given it to the man she met last night. The Head thus uses its eerie mental powers, compelling Iris to pilot the bus back to Tom...

Back in the publishing company, Mida reminds Tom that he’s locked into a watertight contract and committed to writing at least six more books about Iris. However, in her anger, she lets slip that she knows that Iris is real, and Tom realises that Mida must be in league with the dark forces that Iris claimed were pursuing her. He and Panda flee for their lives, pursued by Mida’s secretarial pool and realising somewhat belatedly that the name of the publishing company, “Satan and Satan,” was probably a bit of a giveaway. Mida and her secretaries catch Tom and Panda before they can escape, and Mida finally admits that she works for MIAOW, the Ministry for Incursions and other Alien Ontological Wonders; they are aware that dark forces are searching for Iris, and they set up this entire publishing company -- and Tom’s writing career -- in order to learn her secrets so they could get to her first.

Iris’ bus then materialises and Iris herself emerges, apologising for being under the thrall of an evil disembodied head on a stick. The Head uses its mental powers to hold Mida in place and tries forcing Tom to hand over the crystal -- but just in time, Iris realises that Panda isn’t affected by the Head’s eerie mind-control powers, because he’s a stuffed toy animal with no mind to control. Panda is deeply offended by the slight, but nevertheless, on Iris’ orders, he grabs the crystal out of Tom’s hands and smashes it against the floor. All of the memories that Iris had stored in the crystal dissipate into the ether, including everything she’d learned about the weak spots and pressure points that would have allowed the Head and its kind to invade this dimension. The furious Head vanishes back to its home dimension, vowing revenge. As Mida and Robin recover from being under the Head’s control, Iris feels a great sense of relief at having been freed from the baggage of her past. She admits to Tom that she knew all along that his books were about her, but she’s forgiven him. Now that the dark forces can no longer get what they need from her, MIAOW will have no interest in Tom’s work and Mida will let him out of his contract. Since Iris has now forgotten all of her old implausible adventures, the only thing to do is get out there and have a whole lot of brand-new implausible adventures -- and she invites Tom and Panda along for the ride...

Source: Cameron Dixon

Continuity Notes:
  • For Tom, this takes place at least ten years after the stories in Wildthyme on Top. Mida Slike and MIAOW also appeared in Mad Dogs and Englishmen, although this being Iris it's unclear whether that happened earlier in her life, or later, or neither, or both.
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