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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
Hornets’ Nest
A Sting in the Tale


Author: Paul Magrs
Starring: Tom Baker
BBC Audio
RRP: £9.78
ISBN: 978 1 4084 2676 0
Available 03 December 2009

The Doctor arrives in a bleak English midwinter of long ago. Plunging into the snowy landscape of the Dark Ages, he learns that wild dogs besiege the local Tilling Abbey every night. When he is given shelter by the sisters of the abbey, he begs an audience with the Mother Superior they fiercely protect. Something unearthly has already happened here - and if the Doctor is right, it’s connected to his recent encounters with the hornets. As night falls again, the dogs can be held off no longer - and the sisters’ secret is about to be revealed. Forced to draw his enemy off into the depths of the TARDIS, the Doctor finds himself in a nightmarish chase through his own ship...

At just 61 minutes’ duration, A Sting in the Tale is the shortest episode in the Hornets’ Nest series, in which the Doctor (Tom Baker) recalls one final encounter with the hornets (chronologically the first, from the point of view of the insects and Earth history) before he and Mike Yates (Richard Franklin) must face the creatures in battle. It’s also the least self-contained, as it ties up a temporal loose end from the previous instalment, The Circus of Doom, and establishes how the Time Lord met the dog he now calls Captain.

The Dark Ages setting is an appropriate one, as this is the darkest tale in the series so far, featuring vicious animal attacks and a truly bizarre Mother Superior, as well as implicating the Doctor quite damningly in the hornets’ scheme - a sting in the tale indeed.

The sisters are played by Clare Corbett and Susie Riddell, who previously portrayed Ernestina and Sally in The Dead Shoes and The Circus of Doom respectively - not that I recognised them in these quite distinct roles. Rula Lenska also stars as the heavily modulated voice of the hornets, a role she reprises more substantially in the fifth and final instalment, Hive of Horror.

The most exciting cliffhanger sting in this series leads directly into the concluding episode...


Richard McGinlay

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Doctor Who: Hornets' Nest 4 - a Sting In the Tale (Unabridged)
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