Originally, that last section of The Devil's Work, when Alec and Jasmin go to university at last and meet up with Wyn, fifteen years later, when she is Alec’s science department tutor with K9 as her surprising companion, was going to be the finale of Llanfairfach Cavern. But that story seemed fairly complete on its own, and I thought, why not one last adventure for Alec and Jasmin. Then I thought of The Doctor simply getting the temporal location wrong and landing them in Manchester something like four hundred years early.

Now, I didn’t know this until I started to find out what Manchester was like in the Civil War era, but it turns out Salford was the happening place then, and Manchester just a bit of a market town. It wasn’t until the industrial revolution that Manchester began to resemble the metropolitan city it is now. Even then, Salford was a separate place, and maintains an independence still, despite being swallowed by Greater Manchester. So that was one of the things I learnt from researching these stories.

I didn’t actually use the Civil War issues very much in this story. They’re very complex and drawn out and bored me even at school. The fact that Manchester was strongly Parliamentarian and was besieged by the Royalists is historical fact, so that had to be in there. Cromwell WAS a megalomaniac and he WAS unpleasant to the Irish. In fact THAT is an understatement. But this story is not about him putting Drogheda to the sword or driving the native Irish to Hell or To Connaught. It IS, as The Doctor said, about ordinary people who just wanted a fairer deal, less taxes and something closer to democracy than they HAD been living.

I went with the idea that food was becoming scarce because both sides were commandeering it from the farms that would have supplied the town with victuals. That allowed The Doctor to ingratiate himself into the inn with his bag of food. The Doctor giving most of his own food to the hungry children is just HIM.

Benedict Daye, Gariel Mittelman, Joanna Whyte, Mistress Goode, Jennet Holt, are all authentic Lancashire names of the time. A bit of research into surnames and Christian names came up with a nice collection. I avoided obvious ones like Tyler the Tiler, or Mistress Cooke or Master Cooper for the innkeeper. I’m not entirely SURE what a Mittelman actually is. It looks like a word for a job that is long since forgotten, but this Mittelman was a stonemason. Jennet is a name that in those days would have been notorious in Lancashire, where this character comes from. It was one of the Pendle Witches of a half century before, and part of folklore by now.

The fact that Jennet HAS some psychic powers which The Doctor latches onto, makes her a dangerous girl in a time when witchcraft WAS still a capital crime. But she is not the villain. That is, in fact – THE MASTER.

Bringing back The Master was MY idea first, Russell. The rumours WERE coming in by January 2007, of course. But I was there FIRST. In fact, I’d already had story involving The Master twice before. In October 2006, in the Theta Sigma series. But that was The Master in his Delgado incarnation bending the Laws of Time. Before THAT, in the Unfinished Business story, Dark Matrix, posted in September, 2006, a ‘spirit’ of The Master trapped on Shada, explained to Nine and Ten together that his essence had escaped from the TARDIS, having been ‘eaten’ by the Eye of Harmony and used the Matrix to get to Shada and hatch his own plan for universal domination.

THIS story takes place after the Dark Matrix story. The Doctor makes reference to it. The Master has taken over a body much as he did in the 1996 film, and calls himself Magister, as he did in the Jon Pertwee story, The Daemons. It is, as The Doctor says in that story, Latin for Magister. It is where the term magistrate comes from. I have used the word in some of my stories to mean a judge or magistrate in the Gallifreyan justice system, but that is separate to the way The Master uses the term.

So, his essence hitched a ride to Earth with The Doctor, took over an innocent body and built the Neural Transducer, a sort of do it yourself TARDIS. It worked by consuming the souls of humans and needs a telepath as a navigator. And it is my invention. So if I catch them using any Neural Transducers in Cardiff there WILL be trouble.

Seriously, of course, using organic beings as ‘navigators’ or brains to power machinery isn’t new. In Warrior’s Gate, telepaths were being used as navigators. In Bad Wolf, the Ninth Doctor found The Controller doing a similar thing on the GameStation. I used the idea in my New Lords of Time story Two Weddings and a Security Lockdown. And there is another origin for the Transducer. We all know the TARDIS is partly organic, and partly psychic. We know that TARDISes are grown, not built. But The Master built his. It didn’t HAVE a soul. So he needs to kill people to give it one. It is a homunculus of a TARDIS.

But it is enough for The Master to escape with when The Doctor rescues Jennet from his clutches. Meanwhile he has another problem – rescuing his friends from a mob whipped up by The Master and taken as witches. It is an easy rescue, but I used the fact that he was standing on the site of the future Manchester University to let him have his say about science versus magic before leaving the people of Manchester with something to think about.