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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen


Author: Terrance Dicks
Read by: David Troughton
BBC Audio
RRP: £17.61
ISBN: 978 1 4084 0989 3
Available 08 January 2009

A single blow from the giant, hairy paw smashes the explorer to the ground. Terrified, he flees from the monster’s glowing eyes and savage fangs... Why are the usually peaceful Yeti now spreading death and destruction? And what is the secret behind the glowing cave on the mountain? When the Doctor discovers that a long-dead friend is still alive, he knows why his visit to the lonely Himalayan monastery has led to a struggle to save the Earth...

At last BBC Audio’s “Classic Novels” series of unabridged talking books turns its attention to the Patrick Troughton era, with this reading of Terrance Dicks’s novelisation, originally published by Target Books in 1974.

The author sticks fairly closely to Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln’s original scripts, though he cuts out some of the six-part serial’s padding - especially from Episode Three, losing much of Victoria and the control sphere’s wanderings through the monastery. He also reassigns certain plot functions and bits of dialogue to different characters. For example, Ralpachan’s character is occasionally replaced by fellow monks or absent altogether.

However, Dicks also adds a few details of his own, such as a flashback/dream sequence to introduce Travers, and some back story for the Great Intelligence (which differs slightly from the “Great Old Ones” theory of subsequent New and Missing Adventures). He also compensates for some of the original production’s shortcomings. Unlike the television version, which was filmed in Wales at the height of summer, here there is no lack of snow on the mountains and characters get misty breath when they speak. In addition, the Yeti growl and have glowing eyes, which they didn’t have on TV until The Web of Fear, making them more fearsome than their cuddly screen counterparts. We get to hear those growls in this audio book, courtesy of musician/sound mixer Simon E. Power - though they sound like big cats rather than the flushing lavatories we all know and love!

The novelist also slightly changed the spellings of certain character names, such as Songsten (who became Songtsen), Thonmi (who became Thomni), names that Haisman and Lincoln had borrowed from real historical figures. This change was apparently made on the advice of Doctor Who’s then producer Barry Letts, who, as a Buddhist, felt that the names might cause offence. Not that you can really tell the difference from this reading.

The reader is actor David Troughton, whose only connection with the original six-part serial is that his dad starred in it. David’s vocal qualities are rather different from those of Patrick, not really matching his father’s lighter tones, but he does sound uncannily like his parent at the lower end of the range. In view of his deep voice, it’s a good thing that most of the characters in this story are male: his imitation of Victoria is somewhat comical at times.

However, this four-disc set is far from abominable.


Richard McGinlay

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