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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
Hornets’ Nest
The Dead Shoes


Author: Paul Magrs
Starring: Tom Baker
BBC Audio
RRP: £9.78
ISBN: 978 1 4084 2674 6
Available 08 October 2009

Visiting the English seaside town of Cromer in the summer of 1932, the Doctor happens upon the strange world of the Cromer Palace of Curios. The young Ernestina Stott is unusually beguiled by one of the museum’s exhibits, and when the Doctor befriends her, they unwittingly embark upon a terrifying escapade. Chased by animated dolls through a nightmarish model house, the Doctor realises he is being hunted by a familiar enemy. The unmistakable sound of hornets is in the air, and they are keen to speak to him. Overseeing this game of cat and mouse is the museum’s curator - a certain Mrs Wibbsey...

After being brought up to speed regarding the Doctor’s recent escapade with the hornets and the stuffed animals in The Stuff of Nightmares, I had hoped that Mike Yates (Richard Franklin) would now be able to embark upon an adventure with the Doctor (Tom Baker). However, that is not to be - at least, not yet - as the Time Lord tells Mike about other recent exploits, “side steps” he’s taken in the TARDIS, beginning with a trip to Cromer.

Mike is only heard at the beginning and end of this audio adventure - though on the plus side we do get to hear more from Susan Jameson as Mrs Wibbsey, as we discover how she and the Doctor first met. The Time Lord also acquires a companion of sorts during his time in Cromer, in the shape of ballerina Ernestina Stott (Clare Corbett). As a result, despite the past tense of the narration, there are probably more acted scenes of actual audio drama here than in The Stuff of Nightmares. Christian Rodska is also amusing as the Reverend Small, though he doesn’t get as much to do (a small role indeed).

In this series, Baker and writer Paul Magrs have brought something of the real Tom Baker to the actor’s portrayal of the Doctor, aspects of his personality that the actor was always keen to avoid during his time on the television show. In The Stuff of Nightmares, for instance, it is implied that the Doctor likes a drink, which is truer of Tom than it is of the Time Lord. Similarly, a hint of Baker’s sexuality creeps into The Dead Shoes. He describes Ernestina’s feet as “delectable” (which is a far cry from “You’re a beautiful woman, probably,” in City of Death) and he comes across as decidedly lecherous when he asks her to remove her stockings (to aid in an escape plan).

During Mike’s “bookend” scenes, it is implied that he has never travelled in the TARDIS, which is true of the television series, but unfortunately contradicts Paul Leonard’s Missing Adventures novel Speed of Flight. Despite this, and the lack of Mike generally, The Dead Shoes takes a step in an entertaining direction.


Richard McGinlay

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