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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Three Doctors


Author: Terrance Dicks
Read by: Katy Manning
BBC Audio
RRP: £12.99
ISBN: 978 1 4084 2726 2
Available 08 April 2010

Jo glanced at the Doctor. “Things must be pretty serious then.” “They are, Jo. Very serious indeed. The whole of the Universe is in danger.” In this amazing adventure, Doctors One, Two and Three cross Time and Space and come together, at the Time Lords’ behest, to fight a ruthlessly dangerous enemy - Omega. Once a Time Lord himself, but now exiled to a black hole in space, Omega is seeking a bitter and deadly revenge against the entire Universe...

Originally published in 1975, Terrance Dicks’s novelisation of the 1972-3 tenth anniversary serial The Three Doctors largely remains faithful to the transmitted version of the script penned by Bob Baker and Dave Martin. No attempt is made to beef up the role played by the First Doctor, which, due to the ill health of actor William Hartnell, had to be reduced to a few pre-recorded cameo appearances on monitor screens. Nor does Jamie McCrimmon appear, as had been originally planned but ruled out by Frazer Hines’s commitment to the soap opera Emmerdale Farm.

However, Dicks makes more subtle modifications to the storyline, such as giving Omega a more imposing metallic palace and explaining why the rest of his world resembles a quarry (the place was once lush and beautiful, but the mental effort of maintaining that form has taken its toll over the centuries). Omega’s servants are also more impressive than the television budget would allow: the Gell Guards are described as humanoid jelly shapes (though the blobby television versions are shown in Chris Achilleos’s back-cover illustration), while Omega’s champion is an eight-foot-tall slavering beast. Most notably, the author adds dramatically to the level of threat in the Gallifrey scenes by having the black hole not only draining power from the Time Lords’ mechanisms but also robbing their very bodies of life energy.

After a shaky start in which Jo Grant is repeatedly described as being obedient, as though that’s her primary quality, the Doctor’s companion proves herself to be loyal, brave (not allowing the Doctor to face danger alone) and sensible (she realises things that the bickering Second and Third Doctors overlook). Her point of view comes in useful for telling the Doctors apart within the narrative: because the dark-haired Doctor is the second one she meets, she thinks of him as “Doctor Two”.

Jo herself, actress Katy Manning, reads this story, in her usual enthusiastic manner. She doesn’t really capture the qualities of the Second Doctor, but often manages to convey an impression of “her” Doctor, Jon Pertwee. Most impressive of all is the booming, masculine vocal treatment that allows Manning to bellow the words of the almighty Omega.

The production is further enlivened by some appropriately Dudley Simpson-esque music from Simon Power.

Even if you already own this story in print and on DVD, why not add this audio book to your collection and make it three...?


Richard McGinlay

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