1597: Although Peri and Erimem agree with the hecklers about the excruciatingly bad performance of “Richard III” they‘ve just watched, even they are surprised when the actors retaliate by starting a fight with the audience! As they debate which side to cheer on, Erimem wonders why the female characters are being played by men. Peri explains that during this time, it wasn’t seen proper for a woman to provide lowly entertainment. Erimem wonders whether it is also a custom of this period for a man to place his hand on a woman’s bottom as a form of greeting. When she learns it is not, she swiftly breaks the arm of the unwelcome offender standing next to her. It’s become obvious now that the actors aren’t going to finish their performance, so Peri take the opportunity to fill her friend in on the remainder of the story: Richard III kills just about everyone on his bloody rise to power; Henry Tudor arrives to stake his flimsy claim to the throne of England, and then Richard is hacked to pieces on Bosworth Field. She’s alarmed when the audience turn on her for giving away the ending of the plot and the two women are forced to flee. With nothing better to do, the audience decide to retire for the night with a drink at the Old White Rabbit.
Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor is furious after meeting William Shakespeare. How can a man capable of such profound insight, such a knack with words, such a talent for describing the human condition, be such an utter nincompoop? Dramatic licence is no excuse. However, his angry rant to himself is interrupted by the arrival of a nine-foot robot with glowing eyes that suddenly appears out of thin air and tells him he’s transgressed his deadline and violated his contract. The robot has been instructed to revoke the existence of Doctor Who unless he submits a further transcript. Fortunately, the Doctor is able to switch the robot off before he can suffer the consequences.
As Peri and Erimem stroll through the muddy streets of England, they wonder why the Doctor is so in love with this country. After all, they don’t even have the Beatles or fashion sense in this period of time. The theatre programme they’re carrying claims that the characters in “Richard III” are not based on any real people, living or dead, so they decide to check with the Doctor to see how accurate Shakespeare’s depiction of events actually were. The murder of the two Princes in the Tower is one of the biggest historical mysteries of all time.
They join the Doctor inside the TARDIS and tell him about Erimem’s attack on the man who fondled her. When they question him about the disabled robot he explains that it’s from the 64th century and represents a publisher for whom the Doctor was contracted to work. In the future, all the publishers have been bought up or taken over by one all-powerful monolithic company that owns all the authors throughout history, including the lazy ones who were paid advances but never bothered to finish their books. They therefore sent a time-travelling robot back through history to remind the authors that they have manuscripts to finish. The Doctor admits that during his stay on 20th century Earth he discovered UNIT wasn’t particularly good at being top secret and the press had found out about his role in protecting the planet. For a while he became a reluctant celebrity and although he was able to avoid appearing on chat shows, he was approached by a publisher and asked to write a series of ground-breaking and profound factual books. Just then, the robot temporarily reactivates and has just enough energy left to reveal that only five of the books from the “Doctor Who Discovers” series were ever completed. The embarrassed Doctor is forced to confess that the books were aimed at children and it was either that or write a novelty cookbook. He was stuck with the name ‘Doctor Who’ after a publishing error meant that certain elements were left out of the title “The Doctor, Who Discovers Prehistoric Monsters”. In any case, he still needs to deliver the manuscript for his last title, “Doctor Who Discovers Historical Mysteries”. Peri observes that although the Doctor’s story keeps changing, the ending stays the same - which by sheer coincidence just happens to be the motto of the Celestial Intervention Agency. It means they don’t care what cut-throat devious methods they use to fix temporal anomalies as long as by the end, time continues along it’s proper path. To give an example, if the CIA erased a man from time who was going to start a war, they would still need to wage the war themselves in order to get time back on the right lines. The Doctor, on the other hand, prefers just to observe, not to interfere. Erimem realises that’s why they’ve come back to this time, so that he can conduct research for his book. The Doctor has found some recorded notes that he made when he started work and they listen to the voice of his fourth incarnation recounting the story of Richard III:
The reign of Richard III really began on the ninth of April 1483. Edward IV, King of England, brother of Richard and father of two young Princes, caught a chill and died suddenly. England had known peace for 12 years, but now that peace looked under threat. The Queen’s own family, the Woodvilles, were manoeuvring to keep the new King, who was barely a teenager, under their control. Richard had been nominated sole protector of the young King, but that role had been partially revoked and the King’s Council, which was dominated by the Woodvilles and their allies, were put in his place. The Queen’s brother, Earl Rivers, was sent to bring the young King back to London under close escort. Richard, being the practical soldier that he was, decided to act…
1483: Henry, Duke of Buckingham, reports to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, that the future King (plus several escorts) is on the road ahead. They’ve been separated from their troops, so Richard wants to keep them here until their own men arrive tonight. Unfortunately for Henry, it seems that he cannot say anything without it be interpreted by Richard as a direct insult about his appearance. Just then, Earl Rivers arrives and the two plotters move forward to greet him. Their presence here in Buckinghamshire is a surprise to the Earl. Perhaps too much of a surprise, as Richard was supposed to be in Scotland. His claims that he was innocently out for a ride and hadn’t realised how far he’d travelled do not have the ring of truth. Henry and Richard go through a poorly enacted routine in which a sudden thought occurs to them - now that they’re here they might as well offer to act as escort to the future King for the rest of his journey. The Earl insists that he has his orders and it would be treasonable for him not to follow them through, so their ‘generous offer’ is refused. They agree to a compromise: they will spend the night in a nearby inn and then the next morning, both protectors will accompany the King to London.
Erimem asks the Doctor whether he found Shakespeare as planned and had given him a piece of his mind. The Doctor assures her that he did and that after he’d finished with him, the writer didn’t know whether he was coming or going. Just then, Peri finds a note from Shakespeare thanking the Doctor for the drinks - and the quality of writing suggests the two of them quaffed more than a few ales between them. The Doctor claims to have rebuked Shakespeare for not doing any historical research before writing “Richard III” and accused him of being an absolute hack. He apparently added that in 400 years time, his play would be shown up as tawdry propaganda. Unfortunately he can’t remember Shakespeare’s reaction as he thinks that was probably the moment he fell over. Anyway, his chat obviously wasn‘t enough to help him with his own project, so they have no choice but to travel back to 1485 and find out the truth for themselves.
Richard and Henry’s troops have arrived. Although the Prince and Earl Rivers have already retired for the night, the two plotters decide to wait until dawn before launching their attack. They hear the sound of a TARDIS materialising not far away and decide to investigate in case the Woodvilles have sent additional forces to surprise them. They find a mysterious looking man and order him to step away from his magic cabinet. They believe him to be a demon, but when he learns that they burn demons in these times, he quickly declares himself instead to be a wise traveller. He says he has come from the future to give counsel to Richard of Gloucester.
Inside the ship, the Doctor proudly announces they’ve arrived at their destination - London in 1485 - and they’re excited at the prospect of finally learning the truth of the mystery. The Doctor leaves first while his two companions visit the TARDIS wardrobe to find more suitable clothing for the period. He tells them to meet him in three hours time at a tavern on Fleet Street called The Kingmaker, where he plans to begin his detective work. When Peri and Erimem are alone inside the ship, they hear a strange noise, as if the ship had landed again. They decide it’s probably nothing to worry about, but outside the ship, they realise straight away that they aren’t in London. There’s no sign of the Doctor, but they do find a body hidden under some nearby trees.
Richard and Henry discuss their new companion. It is said that unusual portents are often seen at the time of a coronation, and Henry shows his friend a strange device that he confiscated from the traveller. When Biggins, one of their troopers, was fiddling about with it earlier, the end lit up and half the privy vanished, along with half of Biggins’ head! The man from the future joins them and introduces himself as Mr Seyton. Richard was expecting him to be the Doctor - a fact which disturbs Seyton considerably, but it turns out he was talking about Dr John Morden, a bishop who was coming here to renegotiate Richard’s duties as Lord Protector. Seyton is very relieved to hear this. He tells Richard he will become King of England, but warns him that in the future a writer called William Shakespeare will write a fanciful tragedy based on his life. Seyton warns him that if he allows Edward to ascend to the throne, he will be imprisoned, tortured and killed and the whole English Monarchy will be brought down. To prevent this from happening, he must not allow the two Princes to live.
The Doctor arrives at The Kingmaker tavern and is greeted by a young serving wench named Susan. She shows him to the carousing section and he orders a barely-drinkable wine from the bar. Just a small tankard, though, as he’s driving. She offers to sit on his lap and giggle suggestively for the rest of the evening, but the offer is respectfully declined, not least because she’s only 14 years old. The Doctor claims to be a merchant who’s been abroad for a few years and is therefore out of touch with local politics. He asks about Edward V and Susan tells him he was deposed by his uncle Richard and they’ve seen him living with his brother in comfort in the Tower of London. Susan calls to her sister Judith, who brings over a commemorative mug created to mark Edward’s coronation that never happened. Their uncle Clarrie, the owner of the tavern, takes a break from dancing on the table and vomiting over his customers, to explain that the mugs are now collectors items. The Doctor offers to buy a mug and a few of their tea-towels if the girls will show him where they last saw the two Princes. They slip out unnoticed as Clarrie begins his traditional nightly three-hour rendition of the Dingle-Dangle-Dido song.
Susan and Judith take the Doctor to a hill overlooking the Tower and most of London. They show him the area where the Princes are being kept, and the Doctor recognises it as the Bloody Tower. The two girls tell him the Princes come down to the garden for exercise a couple of times a day - and by sheer coincidence, the boys appear just as they’re speaking. The Doctor realises something isn’t right. The last sighting of the Princes was in 1484, yet here they are in plain view a year later. They decide to return to the tavern as the Doctor is waiting for some friends.
The Doctor is amazed to find there are 43 verses to the Dingle-Dangle-Dido song. When the landlord’s performance is finally over, he comes over to meet the Doctor and introduces himself as One-Armed Clarrie, which the Doctor finds odd as the man clearly owns two rather large, hairy and fully-functional arms. Clarrie explains that his nickname originated two years earlier when he broke his arm. When the Doctor suggests it might be time they thought of a new nickname, the locals at the pub are horrified as they’re all fiercely proud of their names. Clarrie comes up with a lengthy story about how he was injured during the Battle of Tewksbury in 1471 in which he fought off twenty crazed Lancastrians with nothing but a bent spoon - but one of the regulars, Pleasant Open-Faced Pete, reveals that his arm was actually broken when he fondled a skinny-bottomed wench. The Doctor asks whether this girl was called Erimem by any chance…? Clarrie confirms that it was and the Doctor suddenly realises something is wrong…
Three days after they first arrived in this time period, Peri and Erimem finally reach The Kingmaker tavern. They agree that when they meet the Doctor, they won’t mention whose body they found in the forest, they won‘t say who they met and they definitely won’t say what they discovered! But they will have to tell him the TARDIS is missing. Unfortunately the Doctor doesn’t seem to be waiting for them after all, and they hope he hasn’t taken the ship and gone gallivanting around the Universe without them. Erimem is worried that they may have changed history with their actions, but Peri is sure they haven’t. Earlier, she had the TARDIS linked to some kind of future world computer called the internet and it contains all the details about Richard III. However, when she reads through it, she soon discovers something is wrong. All the things they’ve experienced in the last few days took place in 1483, but they’re supposed to be in 1485. The truth dawns on them - they weren’t late after all, in fact…they’ve arrived at the rendezvous two years early!
The Doctor asks Clarrie about Peri and Erimem and learns that they worked at his tavern for about six months, but he had to let them go when he was asked to do a favour and hire his two “nieces” in their place. Back in 1483, the two companions wonder what they should do next and Peri decides to write a note for the Doctor…which Clarrie duly passes to him two years later…while in 1483 Clarrie also has a letter which had been given to him in 1481 by a northern chap with big ears who’d asked him to pass it to two young women named Peri and Erimem. The letter advises them to return to the TARDIS and flick the ‘Fast Return’ switch. In 1485 the Doctor writes a note to his future self, reminding himself to go back to 1481 and give the letter to Clarrie. Suddenly Clarrie remembers the women gave him a second letter with instructions that the Doctor should read it immediately after the first one. This tells him the TARDIS has vanished. The Doctor realises what he’s trying to do is hopeless because if it had worked back in 1483, then the whole complicated scenario would never have happened in the first place. His companions would have met him at the pre-arranged time as they would have had plenty of time in this time to make it here on time. By this stage, Clarrie is convinced one or both of them must be drunk. Back in 1483 Clarrie gives Peri and Erimem a second letter from the northern chap with instructions to read it immediately after the first one. In this letter, the Doctor advises the two women to keep their heads down and try not to interfere in history. He’ll try to find them two years later, around the end of King Richard’s reign, but in the meantime they must on no account try to find out who killed the two Princes on their own. The letter also prompts them to seek employment as serving wenches at Clarrie’s disgusting, filth-stained, rat-infested hellhole of a tavern. Clarrie is delighted to take them on - but as he gives the women an especially warm hug, Erimem promptly breaks his arm!
1485: Later that night, Clarrie is disturbed by the Doctor banging on the tavern door, making enough noise to wake the drunk. He’s had no luck finding Peri, Erimem or the TARDIS so he asks for a room for the night. Clarrie says he won’t insult his honoured friend by refusing the offer of payment and tells him to go upstairs, try every door and when the screaming stops he’ll know he’s found a room that isn’t being used by either of his nieces. The Doctor is still intrigued by how he could see the Princes outside the Tower a year after their reported disappearance. He listens back to the recording of his fourth incarnation to see if it can give him any clues:
Did King Richard III kill the Princes in the Tower? Well, that is the question, isn’t it? Why bother when he’d already established himself as Royal Protector and was practically the King in all but name anyway? All accounts show that Richard was popular and the Woodvilles were distrusted like the nouveau riche of their day. His position was secure, so why would he throw it all away with a senseless act of bloodshed which was completely out of character?
The Doctor spots Clarrie leaving the tavern in a hurry and wonders what he could be doing in the middle of the night… Outside, Clarrie has made contact with Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and tells him the man they were expecting has arrived. Clarrie knows the Doctor has followed him and is probably watching them as they speak. The Doctor is approached by another man who introduces himself as the Royal High Concussor, and he realises he’s walked into a trap. They chat about the duties that the holder of such a post would be expected to have, and the man gives the Doctor a practical demonstration - and promptly knocks him on the head with a cosh. When he wakes up, the Doctor is manacled in a dungeon in the Tower of London. He has a fellow prisoner, Henry Stafford, who claims to have led a rebellion against the King and as a result was found guilty of treason and is now suffering from dehydration, bruising and a lack of fingernails. The Doctor tells Henry about his missing friends and is surprised when the man says he knows them well. They met about 18 months ago in Stony Stratford, a town on the border of Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire.
1483: Peri and Erimem find a body hidden under some trees. It’s a boy who appears to have knocked himself out while running through the forest in the dark. They see some lights from a nearby village and carry the boy between them. In the tavern, Henry asks Richard what Mr Seyton had to say for himself and is disappointed to find it was just the usual stuff: you’re going on a long journey, you may or may not meet a tall and dark stranger who may or may not try to cut your head off, etc. However, Seyton has asked if he can accompany them on their journey and he’s gone to load up his machine onto a cart. Just then, a trooper races in and tells Richard that the Prince has disappeared, apparently by climbing through the window. They’re about to send out a search party when Peri and Erimem arrive carrying the unconscious boy. Richard is grateful and to avoid any difficult questions, the two women agree to tend to his injuries. In fact, Erimem has already realised that the man they’ve just met is the future King Richard III and therefore the boy must be one of the two Princes. Against Erimem’s better judgement, Peri wants to do everything she can to save him, but eventually she is talked out of it. However, as they undress the boy to put him in bed, they’re shocked to discover he has detachable metal parts! Convinced that he’s a robot and that something nasty and alien is happening, they try to sneak out unnoticed - but they’re spotted by Richard and Henry. The women ask for directions to Fleet Street and find out they’re currently fifty miles from London!
By the next morning the two women have gone. More importantly, Richard goes in to check on the Prince and when he emerges, his entire manner has changed and he’s become twitchy and troubled. When they get back to London he goes completely loopy, arresting people without reason, then letting them go almost immediately. He executes some loyal friends of the old King and then announces to Henry that instead of ’guiding’ the young King as they’d originally intended, he now has a different plan. He will only say that new information has come to light that changes everything, but he refuses to elaborate. Henry is concerned that the country could be plunged into civil war, but it’s too late. At this very moment, Richard’s new advisor is conducting a press conference with some of the finest gossips in England. They include Ellie Merryweather from the “Lincolnshire Tattletale“, who asks about rumours that the previous King’s marriage has been declared null and void. Mr Seyton announces that the details are confidential, but it’s true that the coronation has been deferred and the two Princes have been declared bastards to save the Royal Family from a greater scandal. Dolly Trubshaw from the “Wessex Busybody” asks about rumours that Richard has his eye on becoming King himself and Mr Seyton assures them Richard has no ambitions in that regard, but should be pressed by colleagues later, he may reluctantly agree to serve his country in that position.
Richard is now ready to crown himself King, but first he wants to know where Peri and Erimem have got to. When Henry questions him, he reveals that he wants to appointed them as handmaidens to the court. Later, Seyton advises Richard that it’s not enough to remove the Princes from the succession, they have to be removed permanently. He advises executing them for treason, but Richard isn’t keen to murder his brother’s sons, although he accepts that it might be dangerous to let them continue being a focus of discontent for the people.
1485: In the dungeon, the Doctor wants to know more about Richard’s strange new advisor and Henry reveals that he distrusts Seyton, and indeed anyone else who prefers a small pointed beard instead of a full beard or being clean shaven. The Doctor believes it should be fairly easy to escape as his manacles are only attached to rope. He smashes the coronation mug he pocketed in the tavern and starts cutting away - and then he suddenly realises who his fellow prisoner is. Richard enters the cell and reveals that he knows the Doctor wasn’t expecting Henry to be alive in 1485 as he should have died 20 months earlier. Richard also knows, from information given to him by Mr Seyton, that the Doctor is an alien who travels through time and space. His new advisor is an expert in public relations and has been very effective at garnering public support for the new King. The torturer, Sir James Tyrell, arrives and the Doctor recognises him as the Royal High Concussor. The new regime is obviously keen on multi-skilling. However, instead of using the branding iron on the Doctor, as he expected, he instead burns Henry. The Doctor protests, but Richard explains that he already knows everything he needs to know about the Doctor - he just wanted to demonstrate what kind of man he is. He’s already lost his brother, wife and son to illness, and his father and brothers to war and politics. The only thing left in life that he treasures is loyalty. Although the Doctor is too weak to make hard choices, he is only too prepared to destroy those who oppose him - but he won’t do it without good reason. As Richard and Tyrell leave, the Doctor realises Henry is still alive, but he needs urgent medical treatment after the torture. Weakly, Henry decides to tell the Doctor about how his two friends, Peri and Erimem, died. It was Richard - he killed them!
1483: Clarrie is training Peri and Erimem how to serve in The Kingmaker. The art to selling ale and pies seems to be telling the customers than they need to buy both to take away the taste of the other. Washing the floor is also proving difficult as the water from the well is actually dirtier than the floor. Just then, Richard arrives and demands to be served, and despite Clarrie’s best efforts to disguise himself, it’s clear that Richard recognises him. He also spots the two serving wenches and realises they are the two women who found the Prince earlier. Peri and Erimem are still arguing about rescuing the Prince, but Peri reminds her friend of the CIA motto - the story changes, but the ending stays the same. Erimem insists that the Princes have to die now for the sake of history and this country. When Richard confronts them, they throw a bucket of water in his face and try to escape - but outside they find Sir James Tyrell and a small army of soldiers waiting for them.
Henry explains to Peri and Erimem that Richard has personally asked them to be handmaidens to the Princes. Apart from Sir James Tyrell, they will be the only people who have personal access to the boys. Unfortunately Henry had overheard their conversation in the tavern about the Princes having to die, but surprisingly he tells them he agrees with them. He believes Richard has been bewitched by his new advisor, a time travelling soothsayer dressed completely in black with dark eyes, a murderous expression and a little pointed beard. Peri knows exactly who he’s talking about. Henry says the country is ripe for uprising and the Woodvilles are the only family who are powerful enough to attempt it, but they need a catalyst to spur them into action. He gives the women a draft of poison which they are to administer to the Princes. If they die while in Richard’s care it will blacken his name. For the good of this country, Peri and Erimem must be the ones that murder the Princes in the Tower!
Mr Seyton is listening in to Peri and Erimem’s conversation over a communicator and he’s furious with Henry for interfering. Peri and Erimem decide that if the two Princes are indeed robots, they will go to the Tower and dismantle them, then they’ll escape and hide until the Doctor comes to collect them. If they’re not robots, Erimem proposes they kill the boys anyway because without their deaths there will be disaster. Peri refuses to commit murder, but Erimem is getting tired of having to see the word through her friend’s eyes. In her short life she’s already seen sacrifices and killings, even seen servants walled up so they can join their masters in the hereafter. Peri wonders why they can’t just help the boys to disappear - perhaps they’ll end up being looked after by an old washerwoman like in the Sunday afternoon movies.
1485: Richard returns to the cell and discovers Henry is dead. The Doctor demands to know whether Richard killed his two companions and the King responds by asking whether the Doctor thinks he’s capable of killing two kids, of murdering them in cold blood? The answer is yes, he would. In fact he’d do it without a second’s thought if it was necessary. However, he assures him he didn’t kill them as he had no reason to. He says the difference between him and the traitor Henry is a matter of loyalty. He took the throne as a duty to others, not for himself. It was Henry who planned to kill the Doctor’s friends, and for his own ambition not for the greater good. The Doctor isn’t sure that it makes much difference, but Richard says it doesn’t matter whether the story changes, so long as the ending stays the same.
1483: Henry gives Peri and Erimem the poison and accompanies them inside the Tower of London. He advises them to act naturally, like professionals and not like agency staff. As they reach the top of the steps and turn a corner, they’re shot at with a ray gun and have to take cover. Mr Seyton emerges and asks Henry where he’s going. He claims the women are being delivered to the Princes as handmaidens, but Seyton already knows they are assassins. Henry agrees to come out into the open if Seyton agrees to throw the gun on the floor, but Peri warns him to stop - she knows this man and he’s an enemy of the Doctor’s. The last time they met he couldn’t decide whether he wanted to be a robot, a gangster or an action figure. Henry describes himself as a patriot, but Seyton accuses him of trying to depose Richard and taking the throne himself. Seyton says he too wants the Princes dead - but he wants Richard to do it himself, to get his hands bloodied. Once the people know the truth about their future King, Henry will get the revolution he wants. Seyton has already filled Richard’s head with portents of doom about the two boys, so if it could be arranged for them to escape, he’s sure he can convince Richard they’re a clear and present danger and that they should be removed. He persuades Henry to get the women to aid in the Princes’ escape, and when they try, he and Henry will be waiting to arrest them all.
Henry and Seyton agree that if the women get killed, so much the better as they won’t be able to incriminate them. It’s at this point in the conversation that Peri and Erimem reveal that they can hear everything the two plotters have been saying. The men agree on an immediate change of plan - they will kill the women right now! Peri and Erimem flee for their lives as Henry and Seyton give chase. The women find themselves back where they started, right next to the room where the Princes are being held. Peri is convinced that the Master is substituting historical figures for robots and it’s their job to stop him perverting the course of history. They enter the room, but although it’s clear that someone human has been using it recently, it’s now empty. Richard enters and admits he had them brought here on a pretext and he plans not to make them handmaidens, but to kill them!
1485: Richard asks the Doctor why an otherwise loyal kinsman would suddenly declare himself King and usurp and kill his beloved brother’s nephews? The Doctor struggles to think of any legitimate reasons and the only workable theory he can come up with is that Richard wants power. He assures him this is not the case. Richard tests a theory by asking the Doctor if Henry was still alive, would he want him to be released. He realises the Doctor could never have agreed to that, because it was always Henry’s destiny to die. Richard accuses the Doctor of being worse than a god. He can see past, present and future and uses that information to make sure everyone abides by the rules.
1483: Henry and Seyton have lost the two women. Seyton decides it’s time to end the charade and he plays back a tape recording he’s made of Henry plotting to betray the King. He’s already sent word to the King and informed him of his friend’s betrayal. He knows from the future that Henry will now be disgraced and forced to flee to Wales and Richard will execute the two Princes. That is Henry Stafford’s destiny, but although the time traveller thinks he can see everything, he didn’t predict that Henry had picked up the ray gun. He shoots Seyton in the foot. Later, Richard encounters the limping Seyton and he claims to have been wounded in the line of duty. Richard wants to make sure the injury is genuine and asks Tyrell to break the man’s leg. Seyton quickly reveals everything about Henry’s betrayal and the plot involving Peri and Erimem, and claims he received his injury trying to stop them. However, Richard has finally decided to execute Seyton for treason and orders Tyrell to drag the screaming and protesting time traveller off to the dungeons…
1485: The Doctor asks Richard how he could possibly know so much about the future and other worlds. The answer is obvious - someone must have told him, of course. The Doctor is sure it wouldn’t be Peri or Erimem. Richard reveals that because he’s a historical celebrity and notorious villain, he’s had visits all his life from aliens and tourists from the future. They all had two things in common - firstly they had strong views on whether he should kill his nephews or not (which surprised him, since at the time he clearly had no intention of doing such a thing), and secondly, they were all afraid of the Doctor. He first learnt this by accident, when one of the aliens he encountered as a child was alarmed by a totally innocent reference he made to a visiting doctor. After that, he discovered that all he had to do when he received visitors was to casually mention the Doctor’s name and they’d disappear. Naturally, he was curious about this and waited for the next person who knew the Doctor to turn up. Richard would string them along a little bit and humour them - then lock them up and torture them until they told him everything. That next person was Mr Seyton, a tall, dark man completely dressed in black with a nasty, pointed beard. The Doctor has a shrewd idea who this person could be…
Carrie returns to The Kingmaker and tells his ‘nieces’ that he went outside to relieve himself. They know straight away that he’s lying because he normally does that out the bedroom window. They ask where the Doctor is and they realise Carrie has betrayed him to Richard. The Doctor is most likely in the Tower by now and if so, the only hope he’s got is if someone decides to rescue him. Which isn’t very likely, is it? It would have to be done by someone who knows the layout of the Tower and knows where all the secret entrances are, including the one leading to the River Thames. Only someone with inside knowledge would have a hope of succeeding. The two girls decide to check out their old boat down in Greenwich.
1483: Richard has taken Peri and Erimem prisoner, but they can’t proceed until a properly licensed executioner arrives. While they’re waiting, the women reveal that they know about the robots! To Erimem’s horror, Peri then goes on to openly accuse Richard of arranging with the Master to take over the planet. Richard suddenly realises the mistake they’ve made. He cancels the execution as he thinks he can find a use for them after all.
1485: Richard tells the Doctor that he tortured Mr Seyton and learned all about the web of time. He believes that he and the Doctor face exactly the same dilemma. Civilisation as they know it is hanging in the balance and it’s up to them to sort things out. Sadly, some people will get killed along the way, but they can’t stop to worry about them and in fact their deaths might actually be useful in the grand scheme of things. The Doctor refuses to accept that Richard’s petty political ambitions could equate to events that threaten the nature of existence. Richard argues that his reputation as a conniving black-hearted villain means he should want the two Princes in the Tower to die, while the Doctor’s reputation as an heroic protector of the web of time means he should want the same. He lets the Doctor in on a little secret - the person who actually kills the two Princes is the Doctor himself! He going to give the Doctor permission to make a choice…
Peri and Erimem are preparing to dress up again as the two Princes so they can be seen in public, as they’ve been doing every week for nearly two years. Erimem has the problem of whitening her face to disguise her Egyptian origins, while Peri is having to strap down certain parts of her anatomy. Today, they’re playing tennis and Peri argues that as she’s playing the (admittedly deposed, illegitimate and usurped ex-future) King Edward, she should be allowed to win. As they play, they wonder what happened to the real Princes and wonder where the Doctor has got to. Suddenly they see the Doctor watching them from a hill in the distance. They call out to him, but he’s too far away to hear and leaves, accompanied by two girls. They conclude that the Doctor has given up all hope of finding them after two years and has found himself new companions.
Sir James Tyrell is summoned to the dungeons where Richard explains the Doctor is going to order him to kill the two young Princes. If the Doctor refuses to give that order, Tyrell is to take this as permission to let them go free. Richard taunts the Doctor, telling him that time is running out. He can’t afford to be squeamish and he has to make a decision for the greater good. The Doctor finally concedes that he has to do the right thing. He orders Tyrell to go to the Tower - and let his two companions go free. Richard realises the Doctor knew the truth all along. In fact, the Doctor admits he was very nearly fooled, until he suddenly realised that Clarrie is actually Richard’s brother, George, the Duke of Clarence, who Richard must have rescued from the executioner‘s block. Richard argues that George was never malicious, just an idiot. It was the Woodville’s who forced Edward into sentencing him to death.
It’s been two days since they saw the Doctor on the hill, and Peri and Erimem are starting to give up any hope that he will come to look for them. Every day that they stay there pretending to be the Princes, they risk causing damage to the web of time by creating a new timeline which will usurp the old. Erimem believes there’s only one way they can resolve the situation. She still has the poisoned draught that Henry gave them and she proposes they should kill themselves. Peri is horrified, but Erimem insists that the difference between life and death is just a different stop on their journey. Just as Erimem is about to force the poison on her terrified friend, she reveals that she was joking all along. In fact, her idea is simply to open up their minds in the hope that a new opportunity to escape will present itself. Peri is sceptical, but just then Tyrell enters and tells them to pack their bags as they’re free to go, on the order of the King. However, as he leads them from the room, the ray gun opens fire and Tyrell is knocked unconscious. Mr Seyton enters and introduces himself to the two women, but Peri points out that she already knows very well who he is. He plans to take them to the Doctor, who he’s very much looking forward to meeting again.
Clarrie, Susan and Judith open a secret entrance into the dungeons of the Tower of London and greet the chained-up Doctor, and they’re relieved to see he still has the usual number of limbs remaining. Richard emerges from the shadows and confronts his brother. Clarrie goes through the motions of pretending to be just an innocent tavern keeper, but Richard tells him the Doctor already knows who he really is. He wonders why Clarrie is involved in what appears to be a daring rescue attempt and the two girls admit that they coerced him. Richard is disappointed with George and reveals that he was about to release the Doctor and his companions anyway. He has no desire to kill anyone without good reason. The Doctor asks him whether he plans to use his knowledge of the future to change the present, but Richard assures him he’s fully prepared to meet his pre-destined honourable death on Bosworth Field. Just at that moment, two guards enter the cell and in dull, monotone, robotic voices, order those present not to move. The Doctor recognises the effects of a low-level hypnotic field. He knows who is responsible and is expecting him to make a theatrical over-the-top entrance any moment. But when the door opens again, it is Peri and Erimem who enter, much to the Doctor’s delight. Mr Seyton follows close behind and the two arch foes confront each other. Peri introduces Erimem to the Doctor’s nastiest and deadliest enemy - the Master. Unfortunately, the Doctor has to correct her. It’s not actually the Master at all…it’s Mr William Shakespeare!
The Doctor is forced to make an apology to the world’s most renowned playwright for the fact that Peri didn’t recognise him. Although he’s undoubtedly the master of words, the dramatic arts and poetry, that still doesn’t answer why he’s got a ray gun! The Doctor recognises it as a Cyber-rifle, and the control relays stuck behind the ears of the guards are of Dalek origin. The writer has obviously been rummaging around the Doctor‘s TARDIS, picking up all sort of unsavoury memorabilia, and he presumably hitched a ride with them after their last meeting. Shakespeare holds the Doctor responsible - it was he who told him about the future and the fact that 400 years after his time, scholars would start to question whether Richard III genuinely killed the two Princes or whether Henry Tudor was responsible. Shakespeare is a patriot and the thought of his Queen’s lineage being blamed for such a heinous crime was too much for him. When the Doctor casually mentioned to him that he was planning to go back to the 15th century, he took advantage of the Time Lord’s inability to hold his drink, hid in his TARDIS, inveigled himself in the royal court and did his very best to encourage Richard to arrange the murders in a way that would prevent future generations from ever doubting his guilt. The Doctor is furious that Shakespeare thought he couldn’t handle his drink and assures him that ginger pop has a profound effect on any Time Lord’s metabolism! Unfortunately for him, Shakespeare’s plan was never going to work anyway as Richard had him sussed from the very start.
While all the debates and explanations are flying, everyone has forgotten about Susan and Judith. They ask if they can be allowed to leave as they are only innocent serving wenches who deliver food to the prisoners. Shakespeare is suspicious as until very recently he was a prisoner himself and he doesn’t recognise them, but with a little persuasion he agrees to let them and Clarrie go. Shakespeare then turns his attention back to the others. He’s had a slight change of plan. He’s going to order the Doctor to take them forward to his own time, 100 years in the future, where King Richard will stand trial for his crimes in person in the court of Queen Elizabeth!
As the group is escorted away, Richard is angry with himself for not having ‘Seyton’ executed when he had the chance. It seems that when the Doctor first turned up, Richard decided he has no further use for Seyton as a prisoner and ordered the guard to get rid of him. Unfortunately the guard must have misinterpreted the instruction and released him instead. That’ll teach him to use melodramatic language in front of the staff! They arrive at the TARDIS and everyone goes inside. Before they leave, Shakespeare demands that Richard hand over the bodies of the two Princes for evidence. Richard says he may find this hard to believe, but there never were any actual Princes. Peri explains to the Doctor that the boys they met earlier were robots. The Doctor wonders why Richard used the two women as decoys rather than use two pageboys and he’s intrigued to discover that the metal parts that fell off the robots were codpieces. They really weren’t Princes at all, they were Princesses! He recalls Clarrie telling him that he had to let Peri and Erimem go because he was employing his two “nieces” instead. Once he realised Clarrie was really the Duke of Clarence, the identity of his “nieces” became obvious. Susan and Judith are the real Princes in the Tower. Richard reveals that when his brother had two daughters instead of sons, he was worried about the succession to the throne. To prevent decades of fighting amongst the power-crazed nobility who were waiting for an opportunity to impose their own Monarchy, Richard’s brother announced to the world that his second born was a son. When his third born turned out to be a daughter too, he simply carried on the pretence. Richard himself never knew the truth until the day his brother died and he met the future King for the first time in the tavern where they stayed with Earl Rivers - the night that his old friend Henry recalled that his manner changed for ever. His immediate response at the time was to round up and kill everyone who knew the truth. He bribed the Princesses’ mother and then declared the two ‘boys’ to be bastards.
Clarrie and the two Princesses make their way out of the Tower on foot and the ex-Duke of Clarence is worried about being seen in public in broad daylight. The two girls are happy with their current lives and wouldn’t want things any other way. By sheer bad luck, they bump into Sir James Tyrell who recognises George and summons the guards. The three of them try to escape, but more guards arrive. Clarence realises they’re only after him and they have no idea who the girls are, so he bids them farewell and draws the guards away. He races out of the Tower - and promptly falls into the Thames. Unfortunately he can’t swim and his two nieces regrettably have to leave him to drown.
Richard explains that George had already been laying low for about five years when rumours about the murder of the Princes first began, so he sent the two girls to stay with him. Peri enquires about the story of the Duke of Clarence being drowned in a vat of wine, but the Doctor says this was simply more propaganda from Shakespeare. The truth is that Richard loved both his brothers and bitterly regretted being ordered to execute George, so he smuggled him out. Shakespeare declares this a fraud and demands they go back for the two girls. The Doctor refuses and says the TARDIS is already en route to drop him off in 1597.
1597: After witnessing an excruciatingly bad performance of “Richard III”, the audience are planning to retire for the night with a drink at the Old White Rabbit when the TARDIS materialises right in the middle of the stage. Shakespeare storms out in protest at the interruption of his play and the actors do their best to incorporate the new arrivals into the plot. Inside the ship, Peri accuses the Doctor of landing there on purpose and he agrees that it was a good way to get the writer to leave. Just as he’s about to return Richard to his own time, Erimem points out that Shakespeare is still carrying the anachronistic ray gun! Richard’s attention is on a strange figure who has just moved into view on the scanner - it’s an actor portraying the stereotype version of King Richard III, complete with hunchback, pudding bowl haircut and a long, pointy false nose. He is furious and storms out of the TARDIS too. Just as the Doctor is thinking things can’t get any worse, the publishers’ robot materialises again inside the ship. The Doctor asks his companions to leave while he deals with the situation…
Richard confronts the actors and demands a halt to proceedings. Shakespeare in infuriated and starts shooting the ray gun, but the power runs out. The writer admits that his version of Richard isn’t very flattering, but dismisses it as legitimate satire, fair comment and pricking the pomposity of the great and the good. When the actor realises he’s talking to another Richard III, he believes his part has been recast with a different actor. They argue over who is the real Richard III (even the hecklers in the audience join in) until the genuine King grabs a sword and physically chases Shakespeare screaming out of the theatre. Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor tries to persuade the robot that writing books can’t be rushed. There’s research to be done, tea to be drunk and baths to be had. The robot is not convinced and tells him he still has 20,000 words to write. As it prepares to revoke his contract with existence, the Doctor spots it has a loose maintenance hatch - and switches the machine off. He then starts tampering with its memory chip…
Peri and Erimem return and say they’ve lost both Shakespeare and Richard. The Doctor refuses to give up - Richard is 100 years out of time and Shakespeare not only possesses a ray gun, he also took with him a Sontaran grenade. One careless move and he could destroy half of London! Unfortunately Shakespeare has doubled back and has entered the TARDIS just in time to overhear just how powerful the alien weapon he’s carrying is. He no longer cares what happens to him. He owes everything to his Queen and plans to repay her by removing the blemish from her reputation. The Doctor assures him it’s unnecessary as history will always show Queen Elizabeth in a better light than King Richard. Shakespeare is not impressed and threatens to detonate the grenade if they don’t go back to 1485 to pick up the two Princesses. He grabs Erimem as a hostage and when Peri points out that he has his hand on her Royal behind, she turns on him and breaks his arm! At that moment, the robot reactivates and informs William Shakespeare that the second draft of his manuscript for “The Tempest” is now 7,103 years overdue and he’s in violation of his contract. The robot picks him up and carries him out of the TARDIS. Shakespeare drops the Sontaran grenade and the Doctor reveals he was bluffing all along - it’s really his toothbrush. He’d seen the writer outside on the scanner and simply wanted to lure him back inside where they could deal with him. Erimem points out that before the robot left with Shakespeare, the TARDIS appeared to land again, having moved of her own accord without the Doctor’s instructions. The Doctor discovers they’re at the Battle of Bosworth.
1485: As the armies of King Richard and Henry Tudor fight to the death, two soldiers spot someone, who they believe to be the King, shouting for help like a big girl and being chased across a field by a huge metal knight. He has a limp and appears to have a withered arm. Before they can do anything, the man is surrounded by the enemy and is forced to climb a tree to avoid being cut to pieces. They decide to ignore what they’ve seen - let history record that on this day, Richard died fighting like a lion and not blubbing like a big baby, hiding up a tree.
Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor has good news and bad news. The good news is that the loss of the most accomplished playwright the world has ever known 100 years before his birth seems to have confused the robot’s deadline circuits and it’s blown itself to bits. The bad news is that they’ve lost the most accomplished playwright the world has ever known 100 years before his birth. This could prove awkward for the web of time - but the Doctor reasons that although the story has changed, at least the ending stayed the same.
1597: The Doctor visits King Richard who has now swapped places in history with William Shakespeare. It’s not going well and he keeps spelling his own name wrong. The Doctor says all he has to do is knock off a few plays, a couple of historicals, a handful of tragedies and a few comedies. Richard tells him he’s been back to The Kingmaker tavern and the place hasn’t changed a bit. He’s bitter about the death of Clarrie, especially as he believes the Doctor treats it as just another moment in history. Ever since he learned it was his fate to kill the Princes, Richard was determined to fight against his own destiny - but on the day he discovered the boys were actually girls, he knew straight away that he couldn’t win. Whatever action he took, it would always look as though he’d done away with the real Princes. The Doctor has been lucky. Everything seemed to slip right into place for him and he didn’t have to face any difficult decisions. Richard says the reason no one saw the Princes after 1483 was simply because no one could be bothered to look, but he’d always looked forward to taking his place in history, and now has a second chance. The Doctor suggests he put the Duke of Clarence into his first ‘Shakesperean’ play to give him a second chance of immortality too. He also recommends Richard speak to a man called Richard Bacon who will be happy to give him a hand with the writing.
Erimem also seeks the Doctor’s advice. She reveals that in order to save a friendship, she lied to that friend. She’d earlier suggested something that her friend found disturbing, and when she realised her friend could not take it in, she pretended she was joking. How can her friendship survive if it is built on lies? The Doctor points out that they are still friends - it’s another example of the story changing, but the ending staying the same. Peri joins them and wonders whether the Doctor is doing the right thing by letting Richard take Shakespeare’s place, but he’s definitely sure that he thinks he is. Just then, Richard receives a visit from his two nieces who the Doctor has brought forward 100 years to join him. History records that Shakespeare not only had a son who died, he also had two daughters, Susanna and Judith, who both outlived him and led rich and happy lives. The only question remaining is why did the TARDIS jump back in time two years when they first arrived? The Doctor explains that the ship had linked with him telepathically while he was drunk and unfortunately he gave it hiccups. He’s concerned, however, that he can’t possibly write the truth about Richard, the Princes or Shakespeare in his “Doctor Who Discovers Historical Mysteries” book, so he’s going to have to find something else to write about. He asks his companions how they feel about Jack the Ripper…?
|Source: Lee Rogers
The first time a computer referred to the Doctor as “Dr Who” was WOTAN in The War Machines
This story contradicts the revelations about the princes in Sometime Never...
However, history may have been changed in that novel, and in any case, this story is funnier.