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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The Lost Stories
The Guardians of Prophecy


Starring: Colin Baker
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 586 0
Available 31 May 2012

The TARDIS materialises on Serenity, the last surviving world of the Traken Union. Peri expects to find a good place for a holiday - not tomb raiders, a labyrinth filled with terrifying extra-dimensional monsters and a trap-laden necropolis. Serenity’s gentle name belies its history as the home planet of the Melkur, indestructible soldiers created to serve a long-dead dark force, the embodiment of evil itself. Whilst they sleep, vicious thieves are after this force’s secrets, and they will stop at nothing to find them. However, will they find more than they bargained for...?

I have long held a fascination for The Keeper of Traken: the futuristic yet Shakespearean world of the Traken Union, the elegant yet misshapen form of the Melkur, the deliciously evil voice of Master speaking from within it. That is one of the reasons why I liked Big Finish’s prequel Primeval so much. It is also why I was fascinated when I first read, in Doctor Who Magazine, about the unmade Colin Baker serial The Guardians of Prophecy. I always relish Lost Stories more when I have heard of them before, usually having read about them in DWM, so all in all this particular entry into the series is on to a winner as far as I’m concerned!

Though of course we don’t get to see the Melkur, except in Alex Mallinson’s beautiful cover illustration, the modulation of their voices (performed by Graham Cole, the man who inhabited the original Melkur costume) and the sound of their energy beams have been lovingly re-created by sound designer Steve Foxon. Meanwhile, Foxon’s music is a brilliant pastiche of Who music from the 1980s - though more Paddy Kingsland and Dominic Glynn than Roger Limb, the musician who actually scored The Keeper of Traken.

Some aspects of Johnny Byrne’s storyline, which has been developed into full scripts by Jonathan Morris, have already made it on to audio, coincidentally one assumes, by way of Primeval. In both stories, an ancient, half-dead embodiment of evil (in this case Malador, played by the legendary Stephen Thorne) is revealed to be the creator of the powerful device (in this case the computer Prophecy, voiced by Victoria Pritchard) that now forms the heart of a planet’s civilisation. Some of the plot points are also similar to The Keeper of Traken: Prophecy warns of “infinite evil”, just as the Keeper did before her, and the Doctor is caught trespassing - though admittedly the latter happens a lot in Doctor Who in any case, and all of this seems appropriate to the mythos of the Traken Union.

Less welcome are aspects borrowed from the über-villain of Pyramids of Mars. Like Sutekh, Malador wallows in his own evil, inflicting pain upon others, including the Doctor, threatening to make the Time Lord his “plaything”. However, the narrative structure is quite different from that of Pyramids of Mars or The Keeper of Traken, with the villain being released from captivity far earlier than the traditional Part Four.

The characterisation of the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and Peri (Nicola Bryant) fit right in between Seasons 22 and 23, being more comfortable companions who no longer bicker at the drop of a hat, but with still a hint of the Time Lord’s earlier acerbic self. “Nice? Nice? NICE?” he reiterates during the opening TARDIS scene. Later on, he sarcastically refers to the villain as “death warmed up.”

Also befitting the period is the presence of a lovable rogue, the safe-cracker Ebbko (Graham Cole again). I was going to compare him to Sabalom Glitz, but really he is a quite different character, more endearing, and certainly less cowardly. The guest cast also includes Nigel Lambert, who is always welcome, and Simon Williams, who for some reason puts on a Welsh accent.

Evoking the best aspects of ’80s Who, The Guardians of Prophecy is nostalgic but original, a new production of a story that was set aside for no better reason than a souring of the professional relationship between Johnny Byrne and script editor Eric Saward. Like the Season 18 serial to which this is a sequel, this one’s a keeper.


Richard McGinlay

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