6th Doctor
The Wishing Beast / The Vanity Box
Serial 7C/V
The Wishing Beast
Written by Paul Magrs
Directed by TBC
Sound Design and Music by TBC

Colin Baker (The Doctor), Bonnie Langford (Mel), Jean Marsh (Maria), Geraldine Newman (Eliza), Sean Connolly (Mildew), Toby Sawyer (Daniel), Toby Longworth (Wishing Beast), Rachel Lawrence (Female Ghost).

What can it mean when the Doctor and Mel are drawn to an asteroid by a message from the strange, elderly Applewhite sisters? The travellers are promised that they will receive their dearest wishes when they enter the frozen forests of this benighted shard of a world. But the ghosts that haunt this place are desperate to warn the Doctor about the sisters' promises. Only the ghosts know the true nature of the legendary Wishing Beast.
  • Featuring the Sixth Doctor and Mel, this story takes place after the audio story Thicker Than Water.
  • Released: July 2007
    ISBN: 978 1 84435 284 5

Part One
(drn: 25'17")

The TARDIS materialises in deep space. The Doctor opens the scanner and shows Mel a lonely looking asteroid from where they’ve been receiving a message. Mel is surprised they didn’t go straight to the source, but the Doctor says his reckless days are over and he thought it would be better to hear what the message actually says first. The asteroid doesn’t look too promising and it reminds Mel of an old skull, but the Doctor knows appearances can be deceptive. An alarm alerts them to severe lethal radiation in the area, but then strangely the readings start to fluctuate. The Doctor considers leaving and forgetting all about it, but he admits that he’s also curious. Just then, the message starts to come through again and for the first time they see two elderly women on the scanner. The women introduce themselves as Maria and Eliza Applewhite and welcome them to their humble home. They say they’ve been waiting for such a long time and hope their visitors won’t be put off by the apparently hostile environment and noxious atmosphere as they’d like to reward them with their dearest wish. The signal cuts off and the Doctor says they seem like two very pleasant old ladies, but it wasn‘t clear whether the message was intended for them personally or was pre-recorded. The console readings now show safe radiation levels and a breathable atmosphere. There are even signs of civilisation, with a small settlement not far from a large house in the woods. This is obviously where the sisters live and as the Doctor is intrigued by the changing environment, he decides they should pay them a visit.

Down on the asteroid, an excitable Maria wakes her sister Eliza and breaks the good news. They have a new arrival - perhaps the very one they’ve been waiting for - and it’s been such a long time since they last had guests. Eliza asks Maria to help her unbandage her eyes and fetch her glasses.

The Doctor and Mel emerge from the TARDIS and find themselves in the middle of a dark forest. It’s much colder than they expected, but Mel turns down the offer of returning to get her winter coat. They start making their way towards a Gaudiesque-looking house they can see in the distance through the trees. It’s all very odd because none of this was here earlier, but the Doctor theorises it was hidden because someone didn’t want them to see it until now. Perhaps the two old ladies were ‘checking them out’ first? Mel is keen to get to the house quickly as she can sense something watching them. The Doctor can sense it too, and when they start hearing noises between them and the TARDIS, they head for the house at a fairly brisk pace…which becomes a trot and then eventually a fast run. Someone, unseen in the trees behind them, calls out to them to come back and warns them to stay in the woods as there’s no protection inside the Applewhite house…

The Doctor and Mel race to the house and knock on the front door urgently. Mel starts to worry that the message was just a recording and the old ladies might be long dead, but then the door opens and Maria and Eliza welcome them with delight. They introduce themselves and enter the house where it’s much warmer. The Doctor and Mel are satisfied that the sisters seem harmless enough, so they go through into the study where they can sit by the fire. The women are even older in the flesh than they appeared on the message and the Doctor wonders how long ago it was sent. Maria admits that it was recorded many years ago and it’s been a long, long time since anyone last came here. Eliza becomes agitated, but Maria assures them she will calm down soon. She asks Eliza to make a sherry for the great hero from beyond space and time, but the Doctor observes Eliza, who is evidently blind, putting milk and sugar into the drink. Maria explains that her sister’s sight was lost many years ago when they first arrived here. Eliza becomes distressed at the memory, recalling her eyeballs burning in their sockets. Maria says their arrival on this world was violent and unexpected, but Eliza believes they were cursed. The sisters reveal that they’ve brought the travellers here to see the Wishing Beast, a creature that wants to bestow a reward to the hero of space and time - the reward being whatever is the hero’s dearest wish. Mel thinks it sounds like something out of a fairy tale, but the Doctor is suitably humbled and says he’s not really sure he wants to be offered his dearest wish. Maria interrupts him and explains that the reward isn’t for him, but for the brave explorer and great hero of time and space - Melanie!

Maria and Eliza return to the kitchen to prepare tea and discuss what a lovely girl Mel is, so natural and modest, and to laugh at how bamboozled the poor Doctor was. Alone for the first time, the Doctor and Mel discuss what’s happened and Mel delights in teasing the Doctor and pretending he was put out to discover he‘s not considered the great hero after all. He wonders if she’s given any thought to what her dearest wish might be, but when she says she’ll probably decline the offer, he asks her to play along for the time being. As Maria enters with more tea, they hear a strange noise in the air, followed by the sound of cups smashing. The Doctor, Mel and Maria race to the kitchen and find Eliza distressed at the mess she’s caused. Maria calms her down and Eliza says the noise was caused by ghosts getting inside the house. She urges everyone to be on their guard, but Maria says the noises are just causing havoc with her sister’s imagination. Eliza says that even with her poor eyes, she can sometimes glimpse the ghosts, shimmering and silvery. Mel assures her there’s no such thing, but Maria believes things are different on this world…

The Doctor and Mel help to settle Eliza down on the sofa, then Maria explains that the woods outside are alive with ghosts with macabre presences. Although they thought they were safe indoors, her sister has recently been sensing them inside too. Eliza becomes distressed again and says the ghosts are all around them, so the Doctor and Mel offer to help if they can. Maria suggests they have another sherry and asks Mel to entertain them with stories about her adventures in time and space, but the Doctor declines the invitation and says he wants to pop back to the TARDIS to check that it’s safely locked up. He whispers to Mel that he’s sure the ghosts can’t get inside, but he really wants to see if he can pick up any psionic energy emissions. Eliza urges the Doctor to stay here where it’s safe, but Maria insists that as the friend of Mel, he should be treated as an honoured guest and is free to come and go as he pleases. He promises to be back in time for dinner, then he leaves.

Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor checks the controls and finds the results very interesting. He can sense something outside the ship and calls out to it, asking it to make itself known to him. Just then, there’s a gently tapping on the door. Whoever’s outside may be intangible and even invisible, but they definitely exist and they‘re trying to communicate. The Doctor urges whoever it is to talk to him, but the tapping just gets louder and more frenetic, before eventually coming to a complete stop.

Later that night, the Doctor finishes his meal and offers his compliments to the chef. Maria tells Eliza that their brother Daniel would have been delighted to meet their new friends as he wanted to be a traveller himself and would have been flabbergasted by Mel’s tales of the cosmos as they skipped from world to world. Unfortunately their brother died many years ago. When they first came to this terrible land, it was just the three of them, washed up on the jagged reefs of this asteroid like shipwrecked sailors. They were only little children at the time and although Daniel was younger than them, he was their protector. The Doctor says they all have their own sad tales to tell, but when Mel asks about his, he changes the subject. He’s fascinated by their story of the Wishing Beast, but the sisters tell him all will become clear tomorrow when Mel receives her reward.

Maria and Eliza leave to prepare the dessert and Mel takes the opportunity to tell the Doctor how wonderful the room they’ve given her is. The Doctor isn’t keen to stay here for the night and tells Mel about his experiences back at the TARDIS. Mel wonders if the person knocking on the ship was the same person who followed them in the woods earlier, but unfortunately, they’d evaporated by the time the Doctor went outside. He tells Mel he has bad news - the TARDIS itself has somehow become jammed so they couldn’t take off now even if they wanted to. The two sisters return with the biggest trifle the Doctor and Mel have ever seen. Maria proposes a toast to their esteemed guests, especially to Mel, but just then, the Doctor and Mel hear a noise coming from somewhere within the house, like a door slamming. When it happens again, it becomes clear that neither of the sisters can hear anything. Maria tells them that tomorrow they will all rise early and ride out deep into the woods in their carriage, in search of the Wishing Beast. As Mel asks them about the noises, the air is filled with a terrific wind that blows through the room, smashing glasses and toppling tables. Inside the wind there’s a voice, but when Eliza starts to panic, Maria orders the ghosts to leave. The Doctor thinks that Maria’s plans for tomorrow sound like magic and everything they’ve seen here looks like a poor display of cheap theatrics. Just then, a horrible vision appears before them and the Doctor accuses Maria of being responsible. She insists that she has nothing to do with it and says the ghosts come and go at will. Although the voice says it’s having difficulty cutting through the psychic interference, it booms out again and calls directly to the Doctor and Mel, warning them to flee from the house as the sisters will be the death of everyone…

Part Two
(drn: 24'59")

The Doctor is fascinated by the voice, but Maria is angry and agrees to Eliza’s request to fetch something from the cupboard under the stairs. The voice realises what’s happening and tells the Doctor to listen to him quickly before the sisters send him away. Eliza returns and Mel is amazed to see she’s wielding what appears to be a vacuum cleaner! The voice pleads for mercy, arguing that there’s hardly anything left of him in this world already, but to no avail. Maria switches on the device and seconds later the ghost seems to disappear. The Doctor is outraged and realises this is no ordinary vacuum cleaner. He snatches it from Maria and discovers it contains a proton filter which destabilises particles at the molecular level. That ghost had a physical presence, albeit a very slight one, and it’s now been sucked into the machine. Eliza taunts the Doctor and says she could do the same to him if she turned the power up, but Maria tells her to put the vacuum back under the stairs. The Doctor disputes her claim that the ghost was dangerous and in fact it seemed to be warning them against going to the Wishing Beast. Maria claims this was just envy and says the ghost was jealous of what Mel had coming to her tomorrow. Sadly, she also notices the trifle has ended up on the floor!

Much later, Mel visits the Doctor and discovers his room is much smaller than hers, probably even smaller than the cupboard under the stairs. She asks how they’re going to get out of here, but the Doctor says they can’t leave until they undo whatever it is that’s jamming the TARDIS. One thing’s for sure - he doesn’t trust the sisters one inch. Mel suggests he go back to see if he can fix the ship. The old ladies won’t care so long as Mel is still here and she should be safe as they seem to be going out of their way to be nice to her. The Doctor promises to be back before morning, but he’s not looking forward to another walk through the haunted forest. They both agree to be brave.

The Doctor makes his way through the woods and becomes aware of a ghostly presence nearby. He invites it to step out into the moonlight so he can see it, and eventually a shadowy figure emerges and tells him they don’t have much time. He says the Applewhite sisters pose no danger to them until morning, but he only has until then to explain what’s going on. Realising it’s difficult for the Doctor to focus on his form, he tries to solidify as much as he can, but admits that he’s mostly insubstantial. His essence has been ripped away from him and he is, to all intents and purposes, a phantom. He introduces himself as Mildew and says he’s been at the Doctor’s side ever since he arrived, watching and hoping he can help them. He says there’s a group of others like him, who have also suffered at the hands of the sisters, and he invites the Doctor further into the forest to meet them.

Eliza goes to her sister’s bedroom and tries to wake her up. The drowsy Maria rebukes her for disturbing her rest when they have such a busy day ahead of them, but Eliza is frustrated because she can’t get herself to sleep. Reluctantly, but sympathetically, Maria lets her sister slip into bed with her. In many ways, Eliza is still a child. Eliza reveals that the Doctor has gone outside, but Maria isn’t too bothered and only asks whether Mel went with him. Tomorrow they will see the Wishing Beast again, but of course he’s only a beast in the eyes of other people. To the sisters, he’s someone they very much love…

Mildew leads the Doctor to a village hidden deep away in the wintry woods, which is home to the phantoms. There are fewer than a hundred here, all reduced to living wild. Mildew says they can’t taste, touch, eat or feel, and although some of them are able to concentrate enough to manifest themselves for small periods of time, they can’t even lie down for long without sinking into the earth. It even takes an immense and continuous effort of will to hover above the ground so that corporeal beings can see them. The Doctor says he is honoured to be brought here and Mildew’s people seem fascinated by the Doctor too as they normally see so very little colour. He agrees to sit down and let the villagers file past him. One of the ghosts approaches the Doctor and asks him if he’s seen his brother - he was the one who went into the house to warn them about the sisters. The Doctor is heartbroken and reveals that the sisters got rid of him. The ghost howls in anguish and the others soon follow suit, mourning the loss of one of their group. The Doctor asks Mildew how they came to be here and learns that they were all lured by the Applewhite sisters with the promise that their dearest wishes would be granted. Each of them was flattered by the sisters, treated as brave, heroic explorers, welcomed into their mansion and then taken to see the Wishing Beast. The Doctor agrees to help them, but it’s almost morning now and the sisters will soon be riding out to find the Beast. The Doctor leaps to his feet, desperate to reach Mel before it’s too late, but Mildew tells him the sisters always come here to the village first…

Maria and Eliza greet Mel with warm smiles and an offer of breakfast, but Mel says she’s feeling a bit nervous and only wants a fruit juice. Eliza admits that she also feels nervous so Maria encourages her to think of the carriage and horses that she loves so much. During their exchange Mel realises their brother Daniel isn’t actually dead and Maria admits that it was easier to say that he was. In fact, Daniel changed when they landed here - he was given powers and his body turned into something else. They were all children at the time, washed up here alone on this asteroid in the wreckage of a space cruiser. Everyone they knew, including their parents, died in the attack and Daniel was badly hurt. The space radiation mutated him and he grew extra limbs, a dragon-like skin, a pelt of fine spun scaly gold and his eyes became reptilian. He could no longer live with his sisters, so he moved away into the forest to nurse his horrendous wounds and try out his new powers.

The Doctor asks Mildew for more information and a female ghost joins them and says the sisters always feed a handful of the ghosts to the Wishing Beast as appetisers before each main sacrifice. The Doctor is horrified but points out the ghosts have already been absorbed once, so how can the Beast consume them again? The ghost explains that every living essence has layers upon layers, and the creature rarely eats a soul all in one go. Instead, it strips them away, skin by skin. The Doctor suddenly realises that the Wishing Beast was once Daniel Applewhite - that’s why the sisters are so preoccupied with him.

As the two sisters encourage Mel to climb aboard their horse-drawn carriage, she notices Maria is stowing weapons aboard, together with a rug for their knees as it’s such a cold morning. Mel asks why they need weapons and Maria tells her the forest is thick with evil spirits. Mel suggests it might be a good idea to wait for the Doctor, but Eliza claims he’s abandoned her and run away. Mel knows he would never do that and asks if they can go to the TARDIS before moving on to the forest.

Dawn is rising and although the ghosts are still here, they’re a little paler and less tangible. The brother of the ghost who was sucked up by the sisters returns and angrily accuses the Doctor of not doing anything to save his brother, but Mildew points out that the brother knew the risks of haunting the Applewhite sisters and took his life into his own hands. The Doctor assures him he too was also appalled by what happened and promises to do whatever he can to help. The ghostly brother tells Mildew it would take the pressure off them for a while if they fed the Doctor to the Wishing Beast. Mildew is angered, but the brother insists the Doctor is of no importance to them and this will be the best way for him to help them. The Doctor starts to wonder whether he might actually be right…

As Maria and Eliza wait aboard the carriage, Mel knocks on the door of the TARDIS. There’s no response and she assumes the Doctor must still be asleep inside. Maria urges Mel to hurry and Eliza suggests she forget the Doctor as he was probably just jealous that he wouldn’t get his own wish granted. Maria encourages Mel to think the Doctor must have set off early so he could get to their destination before them, and as this is the kind of thing he would do, she accepts the sisters’ invitation to climb back aboard. The carriage moves off and goes deeper into the forest. Eventually it comes to a stop and Eliza tells Mel they need to pick up some supplies at a nearby village. All Mel can see is a strange kind of mist, but as she stares into it, she hears a ghostly female voice calling out her name and begging for help.

Maria tells Eliza to bring the vacuum cleaner as a ghost appears before them and accuses the women of sucking away his brother’s essence. Hundreds more ghosts gather round to accuse the witches, and Maria asks Mel if these are the same haunted creatures that scared her in the wood. The female ghost pleads with Mel to order the women away as Eliza reveals to her that they’ve come here to find tributes for her brother. Maria orders the ghosts to give up a handful of their number and in return she promises to leave the rest of them alone…for now. Mel refuses to go along with their plans, but Maria points out that the ghosts are already dead and orders Eliza to silence her by removing her glasses. She does so and a blinding laser beam emerges from her eye sockets and stuns Mel. Then she activates the vacuum gun and Maria tells her she can take as many of the ghosts as she likes. The Wishing Beast is bound to be pleased - they’re bringing him a banquet today! Mel starts to recover fairly quickly and orders the sisters to leave the ghosts alone, but before they can react, the Doctor joins them. He’s a lot wiser to what’s been going on and he makes it clear he doesn’t like what he’s heard one bit. The sisters mock him and point out that his knowledge won’t help him any more than it helped the other greedy people who came here to have their dearest wishes granted. The Doctor leaps forward, grabs the vacuum cleaner from Eliza and switches it off. Maria insists the ghosts aren’t important, but the Doctor reminds her they’re still people. She blames what’s happened on their own stupidity and greed, and when Mel objects to her brutal attitude, the sisters suddenly turn on her. Eliza prepares to stun her again with her eyes, but just then they hear a loud roaring coming from within the forest. The Wishing Beast has come at last. Mel is shocked by the vision that greets her and even the Doctor is impressed. Maria turns to them and announces that it’s time for their just rewards…

Part Three
(drn: 25'24")

Mel orders the two sisters to get away from her and she can’t believe that she listened to them for even a second. Maria and Eliza greet their darling brother and tell him they have fresh souls to offer. Maria grabs back the vacuum cleaner and switches it from suck to blow, allowing the huge Wishing Beast to absorb all the wraiths it contained. The Doctor has some sympathy for Daniel too, which angers Mildew, who sees the creature only as a monstrosity feeding on his fellow villagers. The Beast continues to draw out the goodness from the spirits contained in the vacuum, but the Doctor has seen enough. There’s only thing he can do, so he steps forward in Mel’s place and offers himself to the creature instead, arguing that a Time Lord’s essence should go some way towards filling up the void in the Beast’s belly. Maria and Eliza are amazed to discover the Doctor isn’t just a humble companion after all, so they accept his offer and give him their oath that there will be no more killings. Mel suspects the Doctor has something up his sleeve, but she still turns angrily on Mildew when he encourages the Doctor to sacrifice himself. The Doctor argues that the ghosts still have a physical presence and are clinging on to life against all the odds, so they shouldn’t be treated as lesser beings. If his death is what it takes to protect them, even for a little while longer, he’ll do it. He warns Mel that once he’s gone, the sisters will try to get into the TARDIS, so she mustn’t let it fall into their hands. Maria tells the Doctor to approach the Beast’s open jaws and says he will feel himself draining away peacefully.

The Doctor stands before the open mouth of the Beast and breathes gently. He slowly starts to fade away…and then he finds himself somewhere else. He hears a man’s voice telling him to look down at all the people outside. The Doctor incoherently mumbles about being allowed to die in peace, but the voice reveals that they’re actually inside the Wishing Beast. The Doctor realises the man is Daniel Applewhite himself! Daniel looks down at his sisters, but he regards them as pitiful and accuses them of lying for him. The Doctor points out that he would die without their connivance, but Daniel wonders whether that would be a bad thing. His life, and those of his sisters, have been hideously prolonged and they’ve been clinging to this asteroid, grubbing around for sustenance, for over three centuries. The Doctor bemoans the fact that he’s given himself up to be eaten by a Dragon-like creature, only to end up in limbo. Daniel reveals that he too wants to stop being the Wishing Beast and leave this place forever.

Mildew struggles to comfort the distraught Mel, but there’s nothing he can say to make her feel better. She always knew something like this could happen one day, but she didn’t expect it to be today. When Maria taunts her, Mel suggests the old lady doesn’t understand what it’s like to care for someone, but the sisters become angry and insist that they love their brother. It would be ironic if ‘love’ was going to be Mel’s greatest wish, because now she’s more alone than she’s ever been before!

Daniel tells the Doctor that when they crash-landed on the asteroid there was very little here, just the house and the woods. They were the only survivors, but he was just a child and his sisters were in the late teens. The Doctor can imagine how scared they must have been, but Daniel thought it was all a game and was young enough to be excited by it all. Eliza had been blinded in the crash and they had to eat whatever they could find in the wreckage, which is probably what robbed his sisters of their senses. After living here alone for a year, Daniel heard a voice calling out to him in the night…

The voice invited Daniel to come with him and find his destiny. Beyond the forest but before the mountains there as a lake where a boat would be waiting to bring Daniel to his land. The voice said it could grant his dearest wish and he already knew what Daniel’s was - he wanted to be able to stand up to those nasty sisters of his, to be able to scare them and boss them about like they bossed him. In short, his wish was to become a monster. Daniel agreed, but said they’d never listen to him as long as he was just a kid. The voice promised they would if he agreed to go to his island.

The Doctor realises Daniel got his dearest wish in the end. Daniel had crept out one night, gone through the woods and the foothills, and found the lake and the boat. He eventually arrived on the island and discovered the Wishing Beast was just a featureless white box that made words inside his head. The Beast never explained what he was or where he came from, just that he had dropped out of another time and another galaxy. The box had amazing advanced powers that looked like sorcery to Daniel, but they needed to bond together to become one combined being that would scare his sisters into doing his bidding. Now, after 300 years, Daniel has had enough and wants to stop feasting on innocent souls - but will the original Wishing Beast let him?

Maria and Eliza become concerned by the noises the sleeping Wishing Beast is making. Either he’s having nightmares or the Doctor has given him indigestion. They warn Mel to co-operate with them as they’re going to be her new travelling companions and they’ll need to get along with each other if they’re going to start travelling in the TARDIS together. Mel refuses to let them aboard the ship, even when they offer to let Mildew accompany them as a friend. Suddenly Mildew appears from nowhere, carrying the vacuum cleaner. He strains to concentrate just enough to operate the machine and points it in their direction. Mel insists that this isn’t the answer, but Mildew switches it on to maximum power and sucks the two screaming harridans into the machine…

Daniel tells the Doctor he only has one very small wish left - he wants to melt away like the morning frost and die. But he’s in limbo and the Wishing Beast at his heart won’t let him go. Daniel realises he needs to find a replacement first and just as the Doctor realises who he has in mind, they’re both distracted by the sound of screaming outside. Through the dragon’s eyes they can see Mildew sucking up the sisters. Daniel is delighted as he’s grown to hate them, but the Doctor wonders why he hasn’t done anything about it himself. Daniel explains they have powerful minds - it’s his sisters who are holding the Doctor’s ship here and have been blocking the communications of the ghosts getting through. When he speaks aloud about how much he hates his sisters, the voice of the Wishing Beast intervenes and reminds Daniel that he’s given him a good life and has made him far greater than he was before. The Beast admits that he’s been watching the Doctor for a very long time. Daniel tries to take the credit for bringing him here and asks if he can go now, but the Beast doesn’t understand why he would want to leave. The Doctor accuses the Beast of lying and points out that his relationship with Daniel is hardly symbiotic. In fact, the Beast is a parasite and the Doctor would rather die than give himself up to a creature that preys on the essence of innocent beings. The Doctor encourages Daniel to stop the Wishing Beast himself, saying it’s all about choices and growing up. Daniel summons up the courage to face the Beast and in return the Beast accuses him of being an ungrateful boy - but after 300 years, Daniel is no longer a boy. Meeting the Doctor has changed everything for him and now he can finally see the Wishing Beast’s wickedness!

Mel realises Mildew is killing Maria and Eliza and pleads with him to stop. As layer upon layer is stripped away from them, Maria asks Eliza if her eyes has rested sufficiently. They have, so she whips off her dark glasses and fire her laser beams directly towards Mildew. The ghost cries out and immediately turns off the vacuum cleaner…but Eliza continues burning him away, arguing that ghosts have no right to exist during the daytime. Mel turns her pleas towards the sisters, but they’ve been reduced to wraiths themselves and refuse to listen to her. Eventually Mildew is completely destroyed and Maria orders Eliza to put her glasses back on.

The voice of the Wishing Beast booms out to the sisters and asks them to move forward, but they’ve been badly depleted and there’s hardly anything left of them now. Eliza asks Daniel to save them, but to their surprise Daniel calls back to them and says the Wishing Beast has been using them all for years and they’ve wasted their lives. The only wish he’s ever made was when he was a child, but now, with the support of the Doctor, he wants to make an adult’s wish. He wishes to die and he wants the Wishing Beast to die with him. He hands the Doctor the featureless white box and asks him to take it outside and open it, thus breaking the bond.

Maria and Eliza call out to Daniel, begging him not to forsake them. They watch as the huge jaws of the dragon-like Wishing Beast open up and the Doctor emerges. Mel rushes over to join him, but he tells her to stand back. He opens the box and almost immediately, in a great rush of wind, the Wishing Beast completely disappears. He explains that the box itself is the Beast and it’s still very hungry indeed. The two wraith-like sisters cry out as they both get sucked inside the box, and their place is taken by Daniel who is now free from his prison. He thanks the Doctor and then slowly fades away until there’s nothing left, not even a ghost. The Doctor explains that he was only being sustained by the box, a highly advanced being that was a fugitive from some other dimension. Now it’s got what little is left of the two sisters inside it. The Doctor suggests they seal it up inside the Applewhite mansion where it can do no more harm. Mel wonders what will happen if someone else lands here, but he doesn’t think that’s very likely. Like Daniel, this place was only sustained by the Wishing Beast’s powers and soon its toxic uninhabitable atmosphere will return. At least Daniel finally got what he wanted - peace at last. He never wanted to be a big slavering monster (at least not after the age of ten) but he trapped himself in the image of a dragon creature that never really existed. Mel is delighted that the Doctor didn’t sacrifice himself after all and he apologises for scaring her. They agree to lock the vacuum cleaner away too, like a tomb of forgotten wretched souls. They mourn the loss of Mildew and his friends and then look around them. There’s not much left on this old rock, just a forest, an old creaking house and a few spirits drifting about in the shadows. And soon, without the power of the beast, there will be even less than that…just an awful splinter, the last remaining shard of a word. Mel asks the Doctor to take her somewhere fabulous next time!

Source: Lee Rogers


The Vanity Box
Written by Paul Magrs
Directed by TBC
Sound Design and Music by TBC

Colin Baker (The Doctor), Bonnie Langford (Mel), Diana Flacks (Nesta), Christine Moore (Winnie), Rachel Laurence (Bessy), Toby Longworth (Monsieur Coiffure).

A strange beauty parlour has opened its doors for business in a dowdy Salford terrace circa 1965. Monsieur Coiffure is the talk of the street with his fabulous make-overs. When the Doctor arrives, however, he knows at once that there's been some unnatural titivation going on.
  • Featuring the Sixth Doctor and Mel, this story takes place after The Wishing Beast.
  • Released: July 2007
    ISBN: 978 1 84435 284 5
(drn: 26'29")

The TARDIS materialises in Warren Street, a dowdy Northern terrace in 1965. Two elderly ladies walk past and bemoan the fact that a new police box appears to have been installed on the corner of the street. They’re sure it wasn’t there before, but they won’t be sad to see a few more bobbies on the beat as it’s starting to get a bit rough round here. They start to discuss some of the recent crimes that have been committed in the area by young hooligans and the very thought of them makes them both shiver. They decide to get a shift on as they have a raging thirst, and after they’ve gone the TARDIS the door opens. Mel is disappointed as she was hoping to go somewhere fabulous and when the Doctor suggested the 1960s she was thinking of “Ready, Steady, Go” and Carnaby Street, but what they’ve got reminds her of L S Lowry. The Doctor comments on her perceptiveness - this is Salford, after all - but they both agree that a period of quiet would be appreciated after their experiences with the Wishing Beast. Mel is hungry so the Doctor points her in the direction of a nearby corner shop while he heads for The Sailor’s End, the local pub.

Mel enters the corner shop just as the owner was about to close up shop. Before Mel can say anything, another woman enters and the owner gasps in surprise - it’s Bessy Tiplington, a woman who appears to be in her mid 30s. Mel introduces herself and compliments Bessy, but wonders why the shop owner is talking as if some magical transformation has occurred. Bessy confirms that it is a miracle and asks Mel if she’d believe that’s she’s really 56

The Doctor enters The Sailor’s End and tries to attract the attention of the staff, but fails miserably. As he struggles to the front of the bar, he’s rebuked by an elderly lady who accuses him of knocking the back of her chair. The lady is one of a group of three who complain about his presence, arguing that men aren’t allowed in the snug area. He apologises and explains that the saloon bar is jam-packed and he can’t get noticed, which surprises the ladies considering what he’s wearing. He promises to get out of their hair-nets forthwith, so the ladies return to their conversation. One of the ladies, Nesta Trubshaw, says she was hanging over her back fence to get a better view of the backyard of the local salon because ever since it was taken over by new management, there’s been some right rum goings-on, quite possibly the work of the devil. Eventually the Doctor manages to get the attention of the barmaid but when he orders a pint of blackcurrant squash, the old ladies turn on him and accuse him of sounding like a Southerner or possibly even being a friend of that fancy bloke who runs the salon. Just then, Bessy Tiplington enters the bar and the women are amazed. She normally looks like mutton dressed as lamb, but now she looks like lamb dressed as lamb, so she’s obviously been to the Vanity Box! Mel arrives and the Doctor introduces her to his new friends (although they argue that they’re no friends of his). The women continue to gossip about the Vanity Box and how it used to be a lot better in the days when Reenie Scallop used to run it - but now it’s all gone very peculiar…

Inside the Vanity Box, the new manager Monsieur Coiffure oversees the transformation of another satisfied customer and offers her a free complementary violet cream. A new customer arrives, having heard that Coiffure strives for perfection and likes to send the ladies home ecstatic. The woman introduces herself as Lily Cook, the corner shop owner, and says she used to come here often under the previous owner. It was very tragic what happened to poor, dead, decapitated Reenie, having been mysteriously tossed off the viaduct like that. Lily has seen what Coiffure managed to do for Bessy and she couldn’t resist the chance to have twenty years lopped off her appearance too. Lily remembers the days when she used to turn a few heads and she’s determined to be the local glamour puss again. Coiffure takes her to a special alcove, hidden behind a curtain, for a private and exclusive process. Then he goes to collect the tool he needs to put the smile back on her face…

The Doctor and Mel leave the pub, commenting on what an unfriendly bunch the customers were. Across the cobbled street they see the Vanity Box, a particularly chintzy looking establishment with a lit-up front. Mel wonders if there’s really anything untoward going on, but the Doctor insists that Bessy’s regression isn’t normal. They both saw the way people reacted to her and it clearly wasn’t just the usual makeover. Mel suspects some primitive form of time travel, but the Doctor would prefer to check the curious salon out before committing himself. As they approach the front door, they hear a scream coming from within…

Inside the salon the customers scream and run about in panic. Monsieur Coiffure asks them to cease their kerfuffle at once, but when the Doctor and Mel burst in, the other patrons flee through the open door. They ask what all the screaming was about and receive an ear-bashing from Coiffure in return. He insists that the screams were all in the service of creating beauty. The Doctor sees the still struggling form of Lily Cook behind the curtain and demands that Coiffure bring her out. He pulls back the curtain and the Doctor and Mel are surprised to see a box has been placed over Lily’s head. Coiffure removes his machine proudly and takes Lily over to a nearby mirror. The woman is amazed and delighted - she feels wonderful and looks as though 25 years have been taken away! In fact, she never looked this good, even when she was younger and she thinks Coiffure is a genius. While the others are distracted, the Doctor tries to get a closer look at the machine, but Coiffure spots him and orders them to leave.

The Doctor decides to visit Nesta Trubshaw as he could tell straight away when he met her in the pub that she would know everything that goes on around here. She may be abrupt in manner, but she’s the eyes and ears of this place. Suitably flattered, she returns the compliment and says he has the look of a clever feller about him. He asks if she knows anything of the wicked goings-on at the salon, and although she refuses to indulge in gossip and says there’s nothing wrong with being clean and smart, she says some of the women round here are becoming obsessed with what they look like. Mel tells her they were in the salon when Lily revealed her new face and she had a glowing, hovering cube over her head. Nesta thinks it sounds like magic, but the Doctor says it’s more like very advanced alien technology. In fact, it looked like something alive, but he’s not sure whether it’s taking over these women’s minds and if so, what for? Nesta is confused and offers the Doctor a chocolate bourbon. He decides to go back to the salon, and the best way to do that is to go undercover. Mel offers to go instead, but the Doctor says no one will ever believe she needs a makeover. In any case it’s likely to be very dangerous, so there’s only one thing for it - the Doctor asks Nesta to help drag him up!

Later, Monsieur Coiffure welcomes a new visitor to the Vanity Box salon - completely unaware that it’s really the Doctor dressed up as a stereotypical Northern lady, complete with atrocious accent. He claims to have come for one of the special treatments, the same that Lily and Bessy had, and asks to be regressed back to being the slip of a girl again. Coiffure is delighted and leads the Doctor back to the alcove behind the curtain. He shows the Doctor the Vanity Box which appears to be floating through the air by itself. Coiffure assures ’her’ there’s nothing to worry about and lets it settle on her head so it can do its miraculous work. He sneaks one last look at the Doctor and decides to turn the settings up as it’s going to take some extra effort to improve her…

With his head encased within the Vanity Box, the Doctor hears a voice welcoming him and telling him to relax. He feels a strange sensation, as if he’s being licked all over…by a dragon’s tongue. As the voice whispers that the years are fading away, the Doctor starts to recognise it - it’s the Wishing Beast! It’s obvious the Beast doesn’t remember the Doctor, which means it’s likely to get more than he bargained for. The voice become confused when it discovers the Doctor has existed for centuries. The salon begins to shake and smoke starts coming out of the alcove. The front door bursts open and Mel rushes in, accompanied by Nesta. They reveal that the woman in the alcove is really the Doctor, but when the manager tries to switch the Vanity Box off, it goes haywire. Inside the Doctor’s head, the Wishing Beast cries out in confusion as the Doctor’s long life takes it further back, creating agony in the creature’s mind. The Doctor demands to know how it ended up here in Salford, but the Beast begs to be left alone and then eventually the Vanity Box explodes!

Mel, Coiffure and Nesta rush over to the Doctor, who is unconscious on the floor of the alcove. As Coiffure removes the smoking box from his head, Mel demands to know where he got it from. He tells her he found the box floating down the ship canal and it spoke to him and promised to make his fortune. He always wanted to be famous and the Vanity Box told him it had magical powers that could make him a star. Now his dreams are ruined and he’s back to square one again. The Doctor wakes up and is delighted to discover he’s still alive. He’s even more pleased when Mel and Nesta tell him the box had no effect on him and he looks exactly the same as before. While he was inside the box, he learnt that it’s a parasite, living off the hopes, fears and experiences of living human beings. When it regresses people, it leeches their psychic energy away! Coiffure can’t understand the problem as it makes people look and feel fabulous, but the Doctor explains that it does this by actually taking years off their lives. It makes them look fantastic but at the cost of shortening their lifespan in huge great chunks. Fortunately it didn’t work on the Doctor because his Time Lord biology confused it. He then tells Mel that he spoke to the voice inside the box and he knows who it belonged to. He doesn’t know how it ended up in the canal, but it doesn’t belong here and it will do untold damage if it’s allowed to remain here. He picks the box up and leaves with it and when Coiffure shouts after him in protest, Nesta tells him to pull himself together and get used to being without it, adding that she never approved of it in the first place and knew it was unnatural.

Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor tells Mel they need to get rid of the Vanity Box and send it somewhere remote and far away, where no one will ever go. Mel is worried about him and knows he went through a horrific ordeal, but he assures her he’s perfectly fine and knows what he’s doing. He sets the controls and prepares to make a tear in the very fabric of time and space. Suddenly the entire console room shakes and a rip in the air opens up above them. The Doctor prepares to push the box through, but the voice of the Wishing Beast pleads with him not to do it. Realising he has no choice, the Doctor pushes it in and the voice fades away into infinity. The environment settles back down again and the Doctor tracks the box’s progress through the vortex on the scanner. They watch as it follows the TARDIS’s recent flight path, back so far in the past that it will forget all about him. Mel realises it was the Wishing Beast and wonders why he didn’t just send it back where it came from, but even though he touched its mind, the Doctor says he wasn’t able to find out which dimension it came from. All he knows is that it’s a very powerful ancient entity from ‘somewhere beyond‘. It would have created havoc on Earth, but now it will wait on an uninhabited rock until a spaceship lands and the Applewhite sisters bring it back to life. Mel realises he could have stopped all the suffering that occurred on the asteroid from ever happening, but the Doctor says that’s no better than thinking you can roll back the years and suddenly become young again. It’s just wishful thinking, which is very human, but he tells Mel she has to start seeing the bigger picture.

The Doctor and Mel return to The Sailor’s End and find the old ladies have kept seats for them in the snug. It’s a long time since they’ve welcomed strangers to their part of the pub, but Nesta tells her friends that she’s had her horizons broadened. One of the ladies, Winnie, notices the Doctor is having troubled getting served again, so she steps in to help. The Doctor and Mel are delighted to join them and comment on what a pleasant evening this is turning out to be. Just then, Bessy Tiplington and Lily Cook arrive and the others notice that their makeovers have worn off and they’ve both returned to normal. They’ll be so embarrassed after the way they flaunted themselves earlier (and actually the ladies suspect they look even older than they did before!) The Doctor asks Mel what she would have wanted if the Wishing Beast had been real and she tells him she was going to ask that things be allowed to continue just as they are. She loves their lifestyles at the moment, so all she would have wished for was more time.

Source: Lee Rogers

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