The Eye of the Scorpion, by Iain McLaughlin
After the Tardis has a wibbly moment mid-vortex, the Doctor sets down nearby to work out what happened. It turns out that he and Peri have landed in far-ancient Egypt, in the middle of a succession crisis. The main contender for the throne of Pharoah is a young girl called Erimem, but her accession is by no means certain – not least because the Doctor knows her name does not appear in the list of Pharoahs…
For the most part I quite liked this story. For the rest of the time I wanted to like it. It’s well-paced, both Peri and the Doctor have plenty to do, there’s plotting and politicking galore, and Erimem is a winning secondary character, feisty enough to break out of the damsel-in-distress mould. Egypt isn’t a period often visited by the Tardis crew, so it’s refreshing to hear a different style of plot. Unfortunately the main bad guy is played by Harry Myers, perhaps better known for his recurring role as half-canine alien Adrian in the Bernice Summerfield series, and for me his gravelly bark is almost too identified in that part, ruining any impact he might have had as an Egyptian mercenary possessed by non-corporeal alien beings. I kept imagining him as a dog-headed soldier – all very Egyptian, of course, but not really suited to the moment.
For my money this play would actually have been better without the non-corporeal aliens, relying instead on the inevitable pressure bearing down on Erimem’s head and the Doctor’s efforts to keep her safe despite her lack of place in the scheme of things. That doesn’t make it bad, by the way; I just happen to think that a straight historical story would have made for a better introduction story for Erimem as she joins the Tardis crew from this point onwards (also marking the first point in BFF’s chronological run that the Doctor has a non-TV companion aboard, by the way, if you don’t count Thomas Brewster’s short tenure).