The Council of Nicaea (2005)

The Council of Nicaea is one of those rare stories in Doctor Who which are historical in setting but doesn’t have any alien or modern day threat. This story comes from Caroline Symcox who is flying solo after co-writing Seasons of Fear (2002) with her husband Paul Cornell. Two months ago saw Three’s A Crowd which was quite good but I have to admit it wasn’t the greatest story for the Fifth Doctor. I listened to this story with no knowledge of Nicaea and to be honest there is no real knowledge needed.

The thing about this story is that Erimem takes the lead and puts her relationship with The Doctor and Peri to the test. Caroline Morris really shines in this story and seems to cement her place in Doctor Who history. She stands up to the Doctor which is something that I thought wouldn’t happen. She stands up to the Doctor in such a way that seems in line with her character. She doesn’t devalue herself but still seems strong and noble.

It’s the classic thing about Doctor Who. Whenever you go into a historical setting you are faced with the line about changing history. There is the infamous quote from The Aztecs (1964) when the First Doctor tells Barbara “You can’t change history, not one line!”. This of course is true but you have the feeling of whether being there automatically changes history because these strange clothed visitors will be mentioned somewhere in the history books.

Everything just works in this story. Its not any one thing, yes of course Erimem’s defiance of the Doctor is a high point but everything about this story is enjoyable. The music and sound effects helps create the right impression in the listeners mind. One thing that made it seem that bit more realistic was the beliefs of the people from that time. The main view that people has are religion and at the time of this story the debate of Arius and Athanasius. It shows that proper thought was given to making this seem as realistic as possible instead of a comedy. Peter Davison and Nicola Bryant give good strong performances. They are united in their belief that they shouldn’t meddle in history (they have travelled together for long enough to know the do’s and don’t’s).

At the end of the day I found this to be a superb story. This follows the run of good stories to come in 2005 which with the return of the TV series has to have stories with strong characters and more importantly a fun feel to it. This is one wouldn’t sit well with a modern TV audience but for those who are familiar with the older Who stories will find this a nice straight forward adventure.

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