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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles
The Stealers from Saiph


Author: Nigel Robinson
Read by: Mary Tamm
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £8.99 (CD), £7.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 381 1
Available 30 June 2009

It’s 1929, and the TARDIS crew are holidaying in Antibes. While the Doctor practises his painting, Romana attempts to fend off the playful advances of young Tommy Creighton. All is peaceful and idyllic - except for the portentous warning of astrologer Madame Arcana and the fact that personal items are being stolen from the hotel’s guests. What is the secret of the cave on the beach? And why do some of Romana’s new acquaintances suddenly behave so strangely? As her newfound socialite existence suddenly takes a turn into danger, Romana finds that the whole planet Earth faces a deadly threat...

Nigel Robinson, who edited and penned Doctor Who quiz books, novelisations and novels for Target Books and Virgin Books from the late 1980s to the early 1990s, hasn’t written any Who for the last 16 years. But now he’s back, with this entry to the Companion Chronicles range.

In his sleeve note and during the discussion at the end of the CD, the writer states that he had always wanted Mary Tamm’s Romana to visit Earth more often. Indeed, her genteel sophistication fits in well in the 1920s, in a story populated by characters who wouldn’t be out of place in an Agatha Christie novel.

Unusually for a Companion Chronicle, there is no secondary voice, on the grounds that a two-person reading wouldn’t suit the whodunit format of the tale. I’m not quite sure I agree about that, as the casting of a guest character could have been a wily double bluff - is the guest star the villain or not? The enthusiastic Tommy Creighton (imagine a slightly more mature version of Jeremy Fitzoliver or a slightly less mature version of Harry Sullivan) strikes me as an ideal candidate for a secondary voice. As it happens, though, Mary Tamm provides all the voices, including that of Tommy, and she does so with great skill.

The Stealers from Saiph seems like the kind of title you’d get in a Doctor Who annual (where, in fact, Mary Tamm’s Romana also experienced post-Armageddon Factor adventures with the Doctor). It is clear that Robinson loves the annuals, as he throws in a reference to the planet Kandalinga from the very first one.

This isn’t the most eventful Companion Chronicle ever, but it is a very atmospheric one. Said atmosphere is augmented by Howard Carter’s creepy music.

Grab a hold of Stealers, and then you can safely say - as Bullseye host Jim Bowen might have put it - that’s yours, that’s Saiph.


Richard McGinlay

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