Click here to return to the main site.

Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Lost Stories
The Masters of Luxor


Author: Anthony Coburn, adapted by Nigel Robinson
Performed by: Carole Ann Ford and William Russell
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £16.99 (CD), £14.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 589 1
Available 31 August 2012

The TARDIS is drawn to a mysterious signal emanating from a seemingly dead world. Trapped within a crystalline structure, the Doctor and his friends inadvertently wake a vast army of robots that have lain dormant for many, many years... waiting... for the Masters of Luxor. The Perfect One wants to become more than just a mockery of a man, and will stop at nothing to achieve this aim. But will the cost prove too great? The travellers are about to uncover a horrifying tragedy - a tragedy that threatens to engulf them all...

Though not quite the earliest “lost” Doctor Who story (there were various discarded versions of the programme’s opening serial, including C E Webber’s The Giants), The Masters of Luxor is pretty close to the top of the list. It was originally intended as the show’s second serial, but the production team were unhappy with it, and Terry Nation’s The Daleks was brought forward instead. And the rest, as Carole Ann Ford says in the interviews at the end of this three-disc set, is history.

Anthony Coburn’s six-part script was previously published by Titan Books in 1992, but on paper I found it a rather dry and dispassionate experience. On audio, with multiple voices plus sound effects and music (by Toby Hrycek-Robinson), it is far more compelling. The opening episode is particularly dramatic. At times it is like listening to a genuine audio recording from 1964 - except that the sound quality is better!

In common with the previous two Lost Stories releases featuring Doctors whose actors are sadly no longer with us, Big Finish has taken an approach similar to its Companion Chronicles in order to realise this adventure. Surviving cast members Carole Ann Ford and William Russell re-create the roles of Susan and Ian, and narrate most of the rest of the plot. Having the performers double up by reading or reporting Barbara’s and the Doctor’s lines works surprisingly well, even in scenes when both male or female characters converse with each other. There is one scene in the fifth episode where it really does sound as if Barbara and Susan are both crying out in delight. The narrative’s switching of tenses between actual and reported speech is less distracting than I found it during The First Doctor Box Set, or perhaps I’ve simply got used to it.

Ford and Russell are ably supported by Joseph Kloska, who plays the creepy Perfect One and all the other characters, mostly robotic, that the travellers encounter on the alien planet. This casting decision is entirely logical, since these characters are all essentially versions of the same thing, progressions towards the same ideal. In fact, aside from the robot characters, this serial would have needed a very minimal cast had it been made for television.

The Masters of Luxor is not as strong a story as Moris Farhi’s Farewell, Great Macedon. The plot is sluggish, even by 1960s standards - which perhaps points to the fact that Coburn’s initial submission was in four parts, later extended to six. However, there are some fascinating ideas in here, including the various levels of sophistication among the robot population and a modern take on Frankenstein. The original script openly discussed religion and spirituality, something that has been toned down in the audio version - though to be fair, this aspect would probably have been altered for television too, by story editor David Whitaker. As a result, it takes a while for the point to come across, but it does eventually become clear that what the Perfect One really craves is a soul.

There are a number of similarities to the serial that replaced this one: a deserted city on a dead planet, occupied by terrifying machine creatures; the prevalent post-war fears of eugenics and atomic devastation. In common with The Daleks, the first episode features no speaking characters apart from the TARDIS crew, and the ship itself is immobilised - though admittedly the latter event happens quite a lot in Who anyway, especially during the first season.

Some plot elements have coincidentally recurred in subsequent stories, from the lifeforce-sapping machinery in The Savages right up to the morally conflicted creator in A Town Called Mercy.

This Lost Story might not be a perfect one, but it’s good to finally hear it re-Master-ed by Big Finish.


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.

£14.45 (
£16.99 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.