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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
Kiss of Death


Starring: Peter Davison
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 559 4
Available 31 May 2011

The TARDIS travellers take a break on the beach world of Vektris. Hot sun, cold drinks and all the time in the worlds... what could possibly go wrong? A kidnapping, a spaceship heist and a desperate chase to a distant galaxy later, Vislor Turlough finds himself in a strange winter palace… along with a face from his past. The Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa, meanwhile, fight to escape from its frozen catacombs, guarded by a vast and deadly alien Morass. What connects Turlough to the ancient treasure hidden in a secret vault somewhere in the palace, and how far will he go to acquire it...?

For much of his time aboard the TARDIS during the television series, apart from his debut in the Black Guardian trilogy and his swansong in Planet of Fire, the intriguing character of Turlough was woefully overused. This audio drama at last seeks to develop him further... but how do you delve into the background of a character whose secret origins were not disclosed until his final adventure?

Writer Stephen Cole solves this problem in such an ingenious way that I didn’t even register how circuitous a route he was taking through Doctor Who continuity until a line of dialogue towards the end of the play made me realise: “Hey, that actually fits in really well with Planet of Fire!” Unlike the Star Wars prequels, Kiss of Death doesn’t undermine the impact of the revelations made in the “sequel” that has gone before.

At first, there appears to be little or no mystery surrounding the honey-trap scheme that sees Turlough (Mark Strickson) getting kidnapped, though the fact that the TARDIS is grounded on the holiday planet Vektris while undergoing repairs (incidentally foreshadowing the redesigned console introduced in The Five Doctors) means that we get a nice bit of space-opera action as the Doctor (Peter Davison), Tegan (Janet Fielding) and Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) have to “borrow” a spaceship in order to mount a rescue. However, the simple set-up is just as well in view of the complications and plot strands that arise, which include a monstrous subterranean security system called the Morass (John Banks). What with the Tractators and now the Morass, those Trions don’t have much luck with underground monsters, do they?

The biggest problem with this production is, not for the first time, an incomprehensible voice. It is very difficult to tell what the Morass is supposed to be saying. Fortunately, the Doctor and Nyssa reiterate most of the salient points for us.

Each of the TARDIS crew gets something substantial or memorable to do in this story, including some agonising jeopardy for the Doctor and a delightfully sarky line about Enid Blyton from Tegan. However, the real star of the show is Mark Strickson as Vislor Turlough - and about time too!


Richard McGinlay

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