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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
Ghosts of India


Author: Mark Morris
Read by: David Troughton
BBC Audio
RRP: £9.77
ISBN: 978 1 4084 1024 0
Available 12 March 2009

India in 1947 is a country torn apart by internal strife. When the Doctor and Donna arrive in Calcutta, they are instantly swept up in violent events. Barely escaping with their lives, they discover that the city is rife with tales of “half-made men”, who roam the streets at night and steal people away. With help from India’s great spiritual leader, Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi, the Doctor and Donna set out to investigate these rumours. What is the real truth behind the “half-made men”? Has an ancient, all-powerful god of destruction really come back to wreak his vengeance upon the Earth...?

That David Troughton certainly gets around, doesn’t he? The eldest son of Second Doctor Patrick Troughton, he’s appeared in Doctor Who in The War Games, The Curse of Peladon and Midnight, and just recently he’s lent his vocal talents to the audio releases Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen and The Destroyer of Delights. Now he narrates this abridged version of Mark Morris’s novel. Troughton gives a good reading, as usual, though some of his Indian accents do leave a bit to be desired, which is unfortunate given the setting. Indian actress Ayesha Dharker, who appeared as Solana Mercurio in Planet of the Ood, might have been a more suitable choice of narrator.

Still, there’s plenty of amusement to be had as the time-travellers, especially the lippy Donna, encounter the last bastions of the British Raj, including a bluff army major, though the author doesn’t shy away from the harsher realities of this turbulent time in Indian history. The conflict between religious factions resulting from the power vacuum left behind as the British pull out of the country is reminiscent of the dilemma facing present-day Iraq. Meanwhile, the segregation of India’s low-caste “Untouchables” continues to this day.

The book is also something of a “celebrity historical”, to use the term coined by Russell T Davies, featuring as it does Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi. The Doctor’s awe at meeting the great spiritual leader might explain why the Time Lord decries violence and military action so strenuously in The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky and The Doctor’s Daughter, possibly indicating that this adventure is set shortly before those episodes - though that aspect of the story is played down in this abridged version, as is the attack by the “half-made men” upon the army barracks.

A benefit of the author’s cutting of his own work, however, is that it improves the pace of the story.

Ghosts of India is worth a Gandhi... uh, I mean a gander.


Richard McGinlay

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