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Audio book Review


Doctor Who
Hornets’ Nest
The Circus of Doom


Author: Paul Magrs
Starring: Tom Baker
BBC Audio
RRP: £9.78
ISBN: 978 1 4084 2675 3
Available 05 November 2009

The circus has come to town - and so has the Doctor! Watching the parade pass by in 1832, he finds the people of Blandford strangely drawn towards the garish big top, and knows that something is terribly wrong. The only thing to do is pay a visit. Meanwhile, Adam Farrow finds his sister caught up with the circus and its sinister ringmaster. What is behind Antonio’s almost hypnotic power, and how is it connected with an event in the Doctor’s future? Seized by clowns and forced into the centre of the ring, the Doctor encounters the fiercest of all circus acts. Yet something much more terrifying lurks in the wings - and the sound it makes is horribly familiar...

The Doctor (Tom Baker) recounts another of his recent adventures to Mike Yates (Richard Franklin), as the Time Lord’s encounters with the hornets continue to take him further and further back into the past.

This time he takes on the sinister dwarf ringmaster Antonio, played by Stephen Thorne, who previously portrayed the villains Azal in The Dæmons, Omega in The Three Doctors (opposite Jon Pertwee) and Eldrad in The Hand of Fear (opposite Baker). After playing such larger-than-life adversaries, it seems strange to have Thorne cast as a small person, even on audio!

The guest cast also includes Susie Riddell as Sally (who becomes something of a companion for the Doctor), Jilly Bond as Francesca and Michael Maloney (who recently lent his splendid vocal qualities to the Viyrans in the Big Finish audio dramas Patient Zero and Blue Forgotten Planet) as Farrow.

This CD drives the overall Hornets’ Nest storyline forward by referencing the mummified feet in ballet slippers in The Dead Shoes while paving the way for the next instalment with a particularly dramatic revelation about how Antonio first encountered the insects. We also learn that the Fourth Doctor has a fear of heights, foreshadowing his downfall in Logopolis.

Once again, Franklin gets very little to do, despite prominent billing on the product packaging, but Baker gives an exuberant reading - he clearly has a whale of a time reciting the words: “circus of dooooom”! The ending makes it clear (to listeners who have been waiting impatiently for Yates and the Doctor to have a proper adventure together) that the Time Lord has just one more story to relate before he and Mike must face the hornets for a final battle...

Roll up, roll up, for an entertaining third act.


Richard McGinlay

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