The Taint
by Michael Collier

Publisher: BBC
ISBN: 0 563 55568 8


    It's 1963, but for the semi-lunatics and the damaged at Dr Roley's own version of Arkham Asylum, the sixties are not so much swinging as terrifying. The devil is walking and his name might be Azoth. But Azoth is breaking down, and isn't quite the super-robot he used to be. Meanwhile, the Doctor's trying to solve more personality breakdowns than you could shake a psychotherapist at, and Sam's seeing the Beast. And one of the inmates turns out to be the mother of a young man who we're likely to see quite a lot of over the next few years. The name's Fitz.


    Samantha Jones and introducing Fitz Kreiner ('On my planet, it is customary to shag by way of civilized greeting...')

    Pg 9 The grounds of Doctor Roley's West Wycombe mansion.

    Pg 230 The top secret underground base in Bethnal Green.

    Pg 245 In the Roley house, in the Doctor's lab.

    Pg 264 Still in the Roley house, but now at the top of the stairs.

    Pg 273 London, Earth, 2134AD.


    Pg 8 "Or have been the owner of an internationally renowned casino? Yeah, that would do: Fitz Kreiner, croupier and card sharp, shaping the dramas in the tortuous lives of the world's most exclusive clientele. He'd see it all... Bankruptcy. Lucky streaks. Lifestyles on the line in the throw of a dice. And him, in white tuxedo and black tie, indomitable and aloof." This predicts Fitz's forthcoming experiences in Demontage, albeit without the suavity that his imagination so enjoys.

    Pg 10 "It had been years since she'd first started travelling with the Doctor, three of them spent without him on the alien equivalent of Skid Row." Not an entirely accurate description of Seeing I, but close.

    "It's 1963. I spent quite some time here, a long time ago." An Unearthly Child and Time and Relative.

    "'I bet you were a real hip swinging cat weren't you?' 'Sam, Sam, Sam, please...' said the Doctor, shaking his head. 'You really are exaggerating the idiom of the period.'" In exactly the way that Polly did in The War Machines.

    Pg 11 "And anyway, I was more an arthritic old buzzard than any cat you might happen to mention." I think the 'arthritic old buzzard' line was The War Machines as well, but I could be wrong. Whichever, it's not unfair.

    "It was quite pleasant to feel like she'd moved off the Terminator back lot and found herself on Summer Holiday." That'll have been The Face-Eater, then.

    Pg 13 "This bag. It fits him snugly." These shoes. They fit perfectly! The Telemovie.

    Pg 25 "Sam was reminded vaguely of the last posh house she'd been in, Norton Silver's place, years ago." Option Lock. Also see Continuity Cock-Ups.

    Pg 27 "'Race memory,' she said." And yet, surprisingly, this book has nothing to do with Silurians.

    Pg 29 "The Doctor held her hand briefly, and when he took his own away she was left holding odd-looking notes and coins." As in Remembrance of the Daleks, the Doctor appears to carry Sixties currency. He also appears to bring them to him using that old favourite, transmigration of object, from The Ambassadors of Death.

    Pg 32 "It's bigger on the inside, honest." Fitz's description of his flat has us screaming 'companion' at him!

    Pg 47 "I'm delighted to meet you, Mrs Kreiner. Your son seems virtuous and trustworthy." It's possible that the Doctor's been able to see this through his ability to read people's lives as seen in the Telemovie. Or he might just be being sarcastic.

    Pg 56 "Patented Fight-or-Flight plan No. 10, worked out and practiced in the safety of the TARDIS months ago." The Doctor and Sam's numbered plans have been around for a while now, and take on a special meaning in Unnatural History.

    "Please, not another scar after what I went through getting rid of the last ones..." The Face-Eater.

    Pg 68 "Fitz? Where's Sam? Sam, Sam, Sam, where is she?" Bugger. And it was all going so well. The Doctor repeats monosyllables and has done for longer than we care to remember yadda yadda yadda.

    Pg 73 Brief and unfunny mention of Daleks.

    Pg 76 "I'll bet you couldn't tell Arthur and Raymond from John Smith and the Common Men." Actually, John Smith is the stage name of the Honourable Aubrey Waites. After careful research here at the Cloister Library, we are prepared to suggest that he began his career as Chris Waites and the Carollers. Gosh, we are surprising; no one would have expected us to know these things. Or that he was first mentioned in An Unearthly Child.

    Pg 95 The Doctor says 'Sam' eight times in one paragraph. Surely a personal best.

    Pg 97 "The way to overcome fear is to face it, to understand it." The Doctor's been watching Ghost Light of late, it would appear.

    "Scared that those microorganisms from Bel..." Beltempest.

    Pg 148 "Instead he was running down corridors. He bet Sam and the Doctor never did that." Fitz continues his subversion of Doctor Who cliches.

    Pg 151 "'Where've you been, the moon?' The Doctor nodded, his voice perfectly serious. 'Yes. Once or twice.'" The Moonbase. The Seeds of Death. Timewyrm: Revelation. There are, without doubt, more examples.

    "Her arm still felt as if it were on fire. She was reminded of being blasted on Janus Prime." The Janus Conjunction.

    Pg 158 "His words seemed to insert a flash-frame of herself into her racing thoughts. She had dark hair and a whole different life, sitting in a bedsit eating hamburgers on a rainy day." Alien Bodies' Dark Sam, soon to be kind of explained in Unnatural History.

    Pg 161 "He was scanning for any anachronistic energy readings nearby." Ironically, one of them is going to be his very own TARDIS, in a junkyard fairly nearby. Presumably, he programmed the TARDIS to remove this from his search.

    Pgs 163-164 "In another time, another body, he might well have appreciated driving in such an enjoyably primitive machine." Reference, one presumes, to the Third Doctor.

    Pg 164 "If only he'd built interchangeable plates into the Bug he could've taken that; mind you, his road tax wouldn't be valid for nearly forty years." Which means that the VW was uninsured in Vampire Science. How very irresponsible of the Doctor.

    Pg 199 "'It's just that they exist beyond the wavelengths of human sight.' 'And Gallifreyan sight?' 'Well... my retinas have been through a lot in their time.'" Reference to the Telemovie and the Doctor's half-human retinas.

    Pg 220 "I've never attempted soul catching with beings not fully in phase with this dimension." We last saw it in The Devil Goblins from Neptune, and we'll see it again soon in Dominion.

    Pg 222 "The last time he'd tried something like this it had been with a Waro." Ooh, suddenly I feel like I'm reading The King of Terror. This is, of course, a specific reference to The Devil Goblins from Neptune.

    Pg 229 "'But will it fly?' Fitz said wryly. 'It's a little less ostentatious than that,' said the Doctor.'" A lovely reference to the sequence in City of Death which manages to be cute and not obvious. More of this please.

    Pg 240 "He thought about the last remedy he'd concocted for the improbable - the stuff he'd given Sam and Lunder back on Menda to cure their radiation sickness had taken weeks to perfect, while the TARDIS was parked nicely out of the way in a temporal orbit." The Janus Conjunction and temporal orbits come from the Telemovie. But see Continuity Cock-Ups.

    "Twice now he'd pulled that trick - the last resort, the dismissal of destiny." One of these, as the narrative makes clear, is The Janus Conjunction. The other, presumably, is the Telemovie.

    Pg 245 "The Doctor pushed open the door to the TARDIS butterfly room with his toe." First seen in Vampire Science.

    Pg 265 "'A mouse,' Mrs Kreiner said, weakly. 'In the wainscoting.'" This is another of those wonderful throw-away continuity moments, which some of us will have noticed refers to The Robots of Death.

    Pg 266 "She'd seemingly done little but recuperate lately; after Janus Prime, Belannia, Proxima II." The Janus Conjunction, Beltempest, The Face-Eater.

    Pg 267 "A bit like lobotomising with a cleaver - it switches people off [...] And it's self-replicating, increasing exponentially." This is, by the by, exactly how all the Daleks were killed in the climax to Dalek Empire II, episode 4.

    Pg 273 "The Dalek invasion thirty years from now decimated humanity." The Dalek Invasion of Earth, of course.

    Pg 274 "Where there's life, there's always hope." Planet of the Spiders, and soon to become rather more important in Interference, part II.

    "And you know that, sometimes, we all have to make decisions, Sam." This may well presage Sam's departure in Interference, part II.


    Doctor Roley is the only survivor of the main narrative, and he's lost his marbles by the end.

    There's also a Mrs Simms, who runs the flower shop; Molly, who runs Molly's bar; two policemen - Arthur Flannen and PC John Sparrow; Martha Wynshaw.


    1. Pg 23 "'Samantha, is it?' said Roley. 'I prefer Sam,' 'Oh, but Samatha's so much prettier!' he protested." It may well be, of course, but it's not her name.
    2. Pg 25 "Sam was reminded vaguely of the last posh house she'd been in, Norton Silver's place, years ago." Well, that is, unless you count the massive, sumptuous hotel in Placebo Effect or the palace of the Empress in The Scarlet Empress.
    3. Pg 47 On Watson's shaky arm: "'It's all right, he can still use it,' said Lucy, and she laughed, squirming in her seat. 'In fact, I'll bet there could be times it has positive advantages!' Watson cleared his throat, apparently embarrassed. The Doctor looked blankly at Lucy." Given that the Doctor claims to have met most of the major psychologists of the twentieth century including Freud and, in this very book, Carl Jung, how is it possible that, given both Freud and Jung's belief that psychological development is irredeemably connected to sex, how can the Doctor possibly miss such an obvious joke about masturbation? What exactly did Jung, Freud and the Doctor chat about over tea and scones?
    4. Pg 95 "'Et tu, Brute?' muttered Roley, turning his back. 'What does that mean?' Maria hurried over to him. 'I'm not a brute!'" We could be overdoing the nitpicking here, but the Latin should have been pronounced 'Et too, Bru-tay' meaning that Maria shouldn't have heard it as 'brute' at all, thus making her response somewhat nonsensical.
    5. Pg 200 "She felt as if she were in some macabre episode of Scooby Doo, Thelma and Frank getting ready to unmask the wicked villain of the week" Except the show is called Scooby-Doo and the characters are Fred and Velma.
    6. Pg 226 "The Doctor looked a little sheepish for a moment, and then rushed over to a crate in the corner of the room, and began rifling through its contents." I wonder if he was also riffling through it?
    7. Pg 240 "He thought about the last remedy he'd concocted for the improbable - the stuff he'd given Sam and Lunder back on Menda to cure their radiation sickness had taken weeks to perfect." Um, no. Back in The Janus Conjunction, it apparently took about 18 hours (Lunder slept through it).
    8. Pg 266 "She'd seemingly done little but recuperate lately; after Janus Prime, Belannia, Proxima II." It was never referred to as 'Proxima II' in The Face-Eater, but always as 'Proxima 2'.

    PLUGGING THE HOLES [Fan-wank theorizing of how to fix continuity cock-ups]

    1. Roley's in something of a panic, after the escape of Austen, and he's getting himself rather muddled.
    2. Sam's referring only to big Earth-type spooky mansion houses.
    3. Presumably, the Doctor is hyping up his relationship with those two most famous of psychologists, and they merely chatted about the weather when they met. But really, given particularly Freud's theories on 'the anal developmental phase' and then 'the penile developmental phase', one can't help wondering.
    4. Roley can't actually pronounce the original Latin, and has only seen it written down, thus he says 'Broot'. I probably wouldn't have noticed had it not been the second time that characters are forced to say things that are unrealistic so as to get a 'joke' into dialogue. (The first was on Pg 13.)
    5. The episode Sam's remembering is VERY macabre.
    6. He did that too.
    7. He took 18 hours to get a basic cure ready, which halted the problem, then, after dropping Lunder off, went back into temporal orbit for weeks and perfected it. Sloppy, though, and not for the first time.
    8. Sam never saw it written down, so how was she supposed to know that?

    The Benelisans, but they're all dead, long, long ago.

    The Beast, who feed on the rather wishy-washy concept of 'life force', but don't really want to hurt anyone. They're just hungry.

    Azoth is a robot, but possibly counts.

    The ancestral Roley home in West Wycombe, Summer 1963.

    Molly's, a bar in Mercer Street, London.

    Azoth's Top Secret Underground Hideout in Bethnal Green.

    Earth, London, 2134AD

    The Lucy flashback: A room, probably somewhere in London, 1951

    The Captain Watson flashback: Eleven miles offshore from a beach in Normandy, D-Day, 1944.

    The Russell flashback: At home with the Wallers, a few years starting from 1946.

    IN SUMMARY - Anthony Wilson
    After Longest Day, we could cheerfully have been dreading this, but, actually, it's pretty damn good. The writing, for one, shows that Collier has learned a lot since his first foray into the genre, and moments like the evocative description of D-Day on page 93 linger in the mind long after you've turned the last page. It's also got a sharply characterised Doctor, a competent and mature Sam and the joy that is the first appearance of Fitz, who is quite wonderful. The only disappointment is that, after pages and pages of 'Here comes Satan,' the ultimate bad guy singularly fails to appear, turning out to be madness-induced images based on some Ghostbuster refugees who turn out to be about as threatening as mosquitoes. But it's not at all bad, and, reading it in the darkening evenings as Christmas approached, I have to say that I loved it.