Click here to return to the main site.

Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who


Starring: Sylvester McCoy
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 577 8
Available 31 July 2011

Nothing has ever been officially confirmed, but there is a rumour that on a Sandminer, bound for Kaldor City, the robots somehow turned homicidal and nearly wiped out the entire crew. Can that really be true? The robot transport ship Lorelei has a cargo of over 157,000 robots on board, all deactivated. So even if there were any truth in the rumour of that massacre, there’d still be no danger. Surely, there wouldn’t. But then, the Doctor witnesses a murder...

This sequel to the 1977 Tom Baker serial The Robots of Death remains true to its predecessor in a number of ways.

First of all there’s the crew. Though they are a different crew from the personnel we met in Robots (thus allowing this tale not to step on the toes of that other audio follow-up, Magic Bullet’s Kaldor City series, which focused on Uvanov), they are every bit as cynical and/or highly strung as the characters Chris Boucher created.

There is some splendid acting here, especially from Nicola Walker (Spooks) as the uncertain physician Liv Chenka and Toby Hadoke (Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf) as security chief Farel. Walker gives a very grounded and real performance. Though Hadoke rather abruptly takes over from Nicholas Pegg’s Commander Selerat as the shoutiest bloke aboard the ship at the start of Part Two, he incites a genuine emotional response from the listener (by which I mean I had something in my eye).

Just as The Robots of Death was a “whodunit” that gave away one of its supposed twists in its title, there is arguably little mystery in Robophobia. Despite Chenka’s justifiably irate comment to the Doctor, “Will you just stop being mysterious for one moment and tell us what is going on?”, in fact the Time Lord tells us what is happening on several occasions. Yet writer/director Nicholas Briggs manages to keep up guessing, as events appear to undermine the Doctor’s stated knowledge (him getting strangled for example).

The Doctor (Sylvester McCoy giving one of his finest performances) comes across as particularly mysterious in this story, thanks in part to the focus being placed on the spaceship crew rather than the Time Lord. He appears before crewmembers such as Chenka and Cravnet (Sontaran actor Dan Starkey) like some kind of apparition, especially since he seems to have been murdered during the pre-titles sequence.

There are no recaps at the start of Parts Two, Three and Four, which can hinder one’s understanding of the story if listening to it on an episode-by-episode basis as I did.

I don’t usually listen to audio dramas twice in quick succession, but in the case of Robophobia I made an exception, because it is such a joy to hear. The great acting is just part of the immersive soundscape. Sound designer Jamie Robertson provides a constant background of thrumming spaceship noises, while his music takes a leaf out of Murray Gold’s book in terms of its majestic sweep and passion. If Gold ever steps down as composer for the television series, the BBC could do worse than hire Robertson as his replacement.

Thirteen minutes of Robertson’s music appears as extras on this double CD, including the beautiful “Elicien’s Song”, which is heard only in the background as diegetic sound during the story itself. There are also fifteen minutes of interviews with the cast and crew, including Briggs, McCoy, Walker and Hadoke.

All in all, there’s no need to be afraid of Robophobia.


Richard McGinlay

Buy this item online

We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£10.64 (
£10.69 (
£14.99 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.