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162. Protect and Survive

If an attack with nuclear weapons is expected, you will hear the air attack warning. If you are not at home, but can get there within two minutes, do so. If you are in the open, take cover in the nearest building. If you cannot reach a building, lie flat on the ground and cover your head and your hands.

Arriving in the North of England in the late 1980s, Ace and Hex seek refuge at the home of Albert and Peggy Marsden... in the last few hours before the outbreak of World War Three.

Meanwhile, the Doctor is missing. Will there be anyone left for him to rescue, when the bombs begin to fall?
Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Philip Olivier (Hex), Ian Hogg (Albert), Elizabeth Bennett (Peggy), Peter Egan (Moloch/Announcer)
Written By
Directed By
Ken Bentley


79 rating(s) submitted

21% (3/14) of raters say this story requires listening to previous stories.

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Rated 7/10 on 7/20/14 2:40 am
Rated 10/10 on 7/16/14 8:40 pm
Rated 9/10 on 7/2/14 4:03 pm
Rated 9/10 on 5/17/14 11:07 pm
Rated 8/10 on 3/18/14 7:22 am
Rated 10/10 on 3/4/14 3:08 pm
Rated 10/10 on 2/14/14 1:48 pm
Rated 9/10 on 2/14/14 12:25 pm
Rated 10/10 on 2/1/14 10:31 am
Rated 10/10 on 1/21/14 9:02 pm


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Review By binro
Rated 10/10 on 2/14/14 1:48 pm
3 out of 3 found this review helpful.
Ace and Hex take center stage here. They get to work in situations very different than the usual Doctor Who story, and Sophie Aldred and Philip Olivier make the most of the opportunity and turn in strong performances. Really, I was happy when Moloch exited the story so that we could get back to Ace & Hex's character study.

I love Big Finish when it experiments like this, and this time around the experiment paid off.
Reviewer Says: No previous stories required.
Review By Gcookscotland
Rated 9/10 on 7/10/13 2:30 pm
0 out of 2 found this review helpful.
Ace and Hex arrived at a house preparing for a nucular attack. The Ace and Hex parts are good but the Doctors are not up to much.
Reviewer Says: No previous stories required.
Review By Norbiker
Rated 9/10 on 8/11/12 4:50 pm
0 out of 1 found this review helpful.
You know, a few years ago i kind of stopped listening to Big Finish audios, aound the number 70 mark, they just didnt seem to engage me, felt there was nothing new in the format.
The last 25 or so have been generally very good. But lets get to this one shall we. I seem to prefer the Sylvester McCoy adventures, i like the manipulative side to this character, and in this audio this is exactly what you get, starts off very pedestrian, with sound performances from all the casts, and i can remember these public info announcements, so they did strike a chord.
Have to say felt Phil Olivier's performance was a bit hammy on a couple of occasions, when he goes blind for instance. But otherwise sound.
Sophie Aldred's Ace still manages to suprise despite the huge amount of media stories this character has had, chatted with her a few times, she used to live near me, and no im not going to say where, she's a lovely and gracious lady.
Great suprise at the end of the second part, felt the villians were disposed of a bit to quickly, but looking forward to the next release.
Review By Crystal Logic
Rated 8/10 on 1/15/13 4:19 pm
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.
A really interesting story. I like the idea of these "Doctor-light" tales a lot, actually, and of course this works well for the theme of a manipulative Seventh Doctor. Loved the setup of the isolated house and Ace and Hex wandering around, becoming introduced to our lovely old couple, only to find that things aren't right in a number of key areas. The Bomb really does go off and the effects are terrifying. I think this stuff, along with the calm yet portentous intonations of the radio announcements, would scare anyone who grew up as a child of the Cold War. The fear isn't as prevalent among today's generation, but the notion of nuclear destruction is actually just as terrifying as it always was.

The structure of the tale is a little unusual. Episodes one and two set up the scenario and the mystery, and bring a deepening sense of dread and impending disaster. Episode three takes us back to how everything got started, and it's the most Doctor-heavy part of the story. Because the Doctor is wandering around, putting plans into action and visiting a host of people all over the world to set up his plan, it feels like a final episode. Only Ace and Hex are still trapped, and it's up to them to resolve the situation in the real final part, since the Doctor isn't actually around!

Which brings me to the climax. Now, I agree that altruism is a wonderful thing, but I don't really feel that it's what makes us human. Obviously Morris was trying to make a point here, and to be fair it is congruent with the slant of a great deal of Doctor Who, but I think he's kind of on shaky ground. How would, say, a devotee of Ayn Rand have resolved the story? "No sympathy for Randians! They're not really human", I hear someone shouting and banging the table. Still, isn't it interesting that Moloch probably acted more human than the Doctor himself did in this story? At least he came back for his children!

I'm also not really clear on how the Doctor knew the Elder Gods would pass into the bodies of Albert and peggy and thus into his "pocket dimension". Couldn't they have checked their future in just about anyone? I've got no problem with the idea of a Doctor manipulating things from the sidelines, but I take issue with him being granted impossibly perceptive abilities or near-omnipotence whenever the script calls for it to happen, and Protect and Survive is a little bit guilty.

Still, the ideas behind this were so intriguing and the setup so engrossing that I can't give Protect and Survive less than an 8.
Review By Eiphel
Rated 8/10 on 7/30/12 7:47 pm
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.
Given how serial this story is, I can't review it as such until I know where things go next, but here's some thoughts:

Mysterious and creepy, this one. One daft Withnail and I reference aside, it's pretty chilling throughout. We're thrown one big question before we even get to the credits, and it lingers over everything that comes next, so right off the bat things are unsettled, not quite right. And from that we walk into bleak 1980s nuclear holocaust drama. A small cast somehow increases the intensity. For a while I wondered if this was going to be a largely straight piece of very bleak drama. It's not, but the first part-and-a-half are particularly grim without any real sci-fi trappings to reassure us with comforting distance. The cliffhanger to the first episode is nothing more than something happening which could have really happened at several points in the past few decades. That's disturbing.

Part two eventually brings in more sci-fi, trading off some of the grim close-to-home reality for uncanny twilight-zone horror. I have to say the ever-present radio announcer voice reading out those same public service announcements again and again, reciting such disturbing advice without inflection, is a coup for the chilling atmosphere. Those announcements are so well deployed (given they are almost verbatim genuine announcements), they define the story. The title is well chosen. Anyway, as the sci-fi aspects ramp up there's something of a big set piece scene, and it [i]is[/i] effective, no doubt, but I feel it would have been better if more could have been conveyed with less describing-out-loud. (I accept that there's an in-universe reason for it, which meant it didn't bother me unduly.)

If I had a complaint, it would be that having 'simple, normal folk' react to a bizarre situation as though it were mundane is becoming rather trite. Of the top of my head, similar devices are used for similar ends in the likes of The Holy Terror, Lant Land, Memory Lane, and especially Chimes of Midnight. (Actually, at different points this story reminded me of quite a lot of other tales. Spider's Shadow and Warrior's Gate also come to mind.) Still, such things are well-used for a reason, and it stays effective here. Ian Hogg and Elizabeth Bennett give really powerful performances as Peggy and Albert, and that certainly helps. The story being set not too far from where I live, I know several Peggy and Albert types.

With the excellent cliffhanger to part two, the tone shifts again. It seems Big Finish are now chronicling a very dark period of the Doctor's life. Some other recent audios showed a bit of an edge to him, and now we have him acting in particularly cold-blooded fashion. It's another way that the unsettling nature of the story is continued. By his nature the Doctor serves as a reassuring presence, and we do feel safer when he's on the scene. As we start to understand what he's up to this time, it still evokes a cheer... But the ruthlessness of his actions is troubling in another way, and persists until his exit, whereupon the prior atmosphere seeps back.

The villains of the piece are actually quite a small feature - Here's where the serial nature of the storytelling makes it hard to judge. Based on this story alone they are introduced and then dispatched rather rapidly, in a sweep of exposition, and with the most cursory of motives... But then, if we understand that the villains' presence here is not really the main event of the story, but rather back story to the wider arc, it makes more sense. More context is needed to judge how good these creatures are. (But that said, I found the performances a tad on the hammy side.)

Doctor, monsters and horrors aside, the real centrepiece of this play is Ace and Hex. As mentioned in Vortex, the current trilogy has had to take a Doctor-lite tack due to Sylv's filming for the Hobbit. This works excellently for the Seventh Doctor, a figure often most effective in the background, in small doses. As Sylv himself comments, even when he's not present, his presence is felt. But more to the point, in his absence, Ace and Hex get a great deal of the time, and they prove once again to be one of the best companion pairings created. I was never a big Ace fan until Hex came along, but Hex is a perfectly drawn character who revitalises Ace, and casts a new light over the whole TARDIS crew dynamic. Olivier and Aldred give this one their all, and in particular Olivier is excellent. Hex is one of my favourite companions. There's also shades of the Magic Mousetrap, as the pair demonstrate their aptitude for playing other personas once again.

It's a superbly creepy play which raises many mysteries and has me extremely excited for what comes next. 8/10
Review By komodo
Rated 7/10 on 10/2/12 9:59 am
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.
This one begins with a brilliant mix of mystery and atmosphere as Ace and Hex get lost in an 80's WW3 nuclear survival scenario and it is absolutely 10 out of 10 when you reach the episode 2 cliff hanger.

Sadly, the third part starts to go down hill leading to a porr episode 3 cliff hanger and a final episode whose ending was ultimately predictable. I did feel let down in the end, but we'll see how the next two stories go before I really judge it. Perhaps it will be better in the light of the full story.
Reviewer Says: No previous stories required.