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The Syndeton Experiment was the second of two BBC Radio audio dramas produced by BBC Radio in the late 1990s.

Publisher's summary[]

Tired of running, Avon and company plan to settle down on the planet Syndexia. But Servalan is ahead of them, on the trail of the man who invented the nanochip, a device which offers total control over human beings.

If Servalan reaches Dr Rossum first, she stands a chance of enslaving a whole population...


On a stores trip, Avon, Tarrant and Vila are drinking in Black City while Soolin and Dayna load carbohydrate blocks aboard Scorpio. Vila, drunk, reveals to an undercover Federation agent that they're heading to Syndexia. Madame Gaskia, the dictator of Syndexia for seventeen years, has achieved prominence within the Federation. The key to her success is by holding almost a monopoly on the supply of Syndeton. She knew Avon many years ago when she owned the club the "Purple Nightingale" and betrayed him to the Federation "18...19" years ago, where Avon barely escaped with his life. (It's implied that this was a difference occasion to his capture that saw him sentenced to Cygnus Alpha in the TV series). In order to obtain power, and a little revenge against Gaskia, Avon suggests they stage a coup and wrest control of the Syndeton. They encounter a Planetary Defence Orbiter around the planet, which Avon bypasses by claiming to be Freighter Pompy, registration code "PJX557552". However, Servalan has been following them since Vila let slip where they were headed in Black City. She temporarily captures Tarrant, and implants a nanochip into his hypothalamus in order to control him. Under her mental command, Tarrant forces Scorpio to travel to co-ordinates 7720 6294 8462 6133 to the planet Capica. There Servalan plans to use Tarrant to locate the missing scientist Dr. Rossum, the inventor of the nanochip. Servalan fears landing on the planet Capica herself as reports show it to be radioactive. However, being forced to land there, the Scorpio crew finds that a belt of ion radiation surrounds the planet at 37 kilometres above the surface, and stops at 32 kilometres - the actual surface is perfectly safe. There, having knocked Tarrant unconscious and tied him up for their own safety, they travel to meet Dr. Rossum. When they finally locate Dr. Rossum he's an elderly man with a weak heart who has become insane, believing himself to be a saviour. He has been transferring the minds of the populace into "nanobots", three-armed, three-legged purple androids with superior mental capacity. His ultimate aim is to place himself in control of them all, in a chief nanobot. However, with Tarrant awake and free once more, Servalan learns through him that Capica is safe and lands with some troopers. There she commanders the nanobot technology and sets about making herself one with the whole of creation. However, her mind not being primed for such a task, her vanity and greed, fuelled by Avon, create a positive feedback, apparently killing her. Avon tells Rossum that his ideas were incorrect, and the "minds" he transferred to his nanobots were only copies, the "dead" bodies he burnt still alive. Realising he has committed genocide and unwittingly murdered nearly two million people, Rossum dies, leaving the Scorpio crew to take off, pondering whether or not Servalan is still alive…


Other parts were played by members of the cast.


Story notes[]

  • Episode Length: 63'02
  • The Syndeton Experiment was produced in Surroundsound and broadcast on BBC Radio 4 as part of their The Saturday Play slot. It was originally scheduled for 19/12/1998, explaining why you might see this date listed as its original broadcast date in some listings out there.
  • Some members of the cast played additional, uncredited, minor roles. For example, Peter Tuddenham was Klysak, Michael Keating was a guide and Angela Bruce was a Federation Officer.
  • The original CD release of the story was broken down into fourteen "tracks":
  1. The Syndeton Experiment (3'51)
  2. It's Going To Take Us Half The Night (4'26)
  3. Who Is It? (3'00)
  4. They're All Three Asleep (4'22)
  5. Do You Mind? (4'47)
  6. But No Guns (4'47)
  7. My Dear Boy (4'15)
  8. Do You Have To? (5'54)
  9. Commander? (6'55)
  10. That's Some City (5'20)
  11. My Plans Are Complete (3'45)
  12. He Certainly Seems... (3'49)
  13. There You Are (4'09)
  14. What Have You Done? (3'42)
  • Its re-release in 2004 as a boxset with The Sevenfold Crown saw no titles used.


to be added


Avon: Avon claims to have been "kicked out of the Academy." His ill-feeling towards Tarrant is also in evidence, as he cites Del's "habitual arrogance." Like he's one to talk…

Vila: Of Vila's drunkenness, Dayna notes "it's the longest he's stayed on the wagon yet."

Scorpio: Scorpio has a personnel shuttle.

Syndeton: Syndeton is an elemental isotope, atomic weight 279. It is one of the rare group of elements that exist simultaneously in the space-time continuum of the universe, as well as the void of hyperspace. When activated by an electromagnetic oscillation of appropriate frequency and aptitude it will provide a bridge for craft to pass through normal space and into hyperspace. Doctor Rossum's research also discovered that by placing a Syndeton molecule in a nanochip, tuned to the frequency of another brain, a person could control another's actions, and see through their eyes. However, this only works if the two beings involved are in the same continuum - if one were in hyperspace and the other in normal space-time then the connection would break.

Speed: Servalan claims she can achieve "Time Distort 18" (Standard by 9), which is nearly twice that of the Federation maximum established in the TV series. (Time Distort 10). However, this is possibly due to the presence of Syndeton. Her assumption that it's twice that of Scorpio's speed could also be due to her not knowing about the Scorpio's Stardrive at this stage. Finally, Tarrant requests "Time Distort 10" on board the Scorpio (Standard by 5), though this is not specified as the maximum speed. It seems a little odd Tarrant requesting a Time Distort rather than a Standard, but then he is under the mental control of Servalan when he does so…

Home audio releases[]

  • BBC audio CD release.

External links[]

to be added