Click here to return to the main site.

Audio Book Review


Doctor Who and the Visitation


Author: Eric Saward
Read by: Matthew Waterhouse
RRP: £13.25, US $24.95
ISBN: 978 1 4458 2620 2
Available 04 October 2012

Tegan, the young air hostess who quite unintentionally became a member of the TARDIS’s crew, wants to return to her own time, but when the Doctor tries to take her back to Heathrow Airport in the 20th century, the TARDIS lands instead on the outskirts of 17th-century London. The Doctor and his companions receive a decidedly unfriendly welcome - but it soon becomes clear that the sinister activities of other visitors have made the villagers extremely suspicious of outsiders. As a result of the aliens’ evil schemes, the Doctor finds himself on the point of playing a key role in a gruesome historical event...

Once again AudioGO has lured a Doctor Who performer who has thus far resisted invitations from Big Finish to reprise his former role. Admittedly, the recruitment of Matthew Waterhouse (alias Adric) is not as big a coup as that of getting Tom Baker on board, but he is to date the only regular cast member from the 1980s not to have done a Who for Big Finish (though he has participated in a dramatic reading for the company’s Dark Shadows range). One wonders whether Waterhouse will follow the same path as Baker, via enhanced audio books to full-cast audio dramas... For now, though, we must make the most of him re-creating Adric in the format of the talking book, with this unabridged reading of Doctor Who and the Visitation, which was first published by Target Books in 1982.

Of course, the reader doesn’t just provide the voice of Adric, but also every other character. The results are a mixed bag. Waterhouse’s Doctor sometimes sounds more like Tom Baker than Peter Davison (especially when he exclaims, “Of course!”), his Tegan isn’t very Australian, and his voice for the itinerant thespian Richard Mace (brought to life on screen by Michael Robbins) is rather too similar to that of his jowly Sir John in the book’s prologue. For much of the time, though, you simply forget that the various characters are being portrayed by the same performer. Particularly notable are the female voices. Male readers often have difficulty with these, but Waterhouse makes them sound completely natural.

I’ve long had a fondness for The Visitation. It’s an unassuming little story, but splendidly produced and characterised - though one of my favourite lines, in which the Doctor talks about Tegan flying off the handle, just as one of the TARDIS controls comes off in his hand, is absent from the novelisation, perhaps because it entailed a visual gag. Continuity references to the preceding serials Four to Doomsday and Kinda have also been dropped, either because they were not part of Eric Saward’s original script or because they simply add nothing to the book in its own right.

The novelisation, written by Saward himself, is short, even by Terrance Dicks standards. The author has admitted (in a 1989 interview with Doctor Who Magazine) that the book, which appeared in print within seven months of the television serial being broadcast, was a rush-job, churned out during evenings and weekends while preparations for the television show’s 20th season were well under way. As a result, the audio book lasts for just three hours - possibly the shortest in the range so far. The adaptation does contain some innovations, though, especially at the beginning. The opening prologue is vividly fleshed out, including descriptions of the alien spaceship landing from the point of view of a fox.

This book was always something of an oddity, being the only novelisation of a Davison story to use the title form Doctor Who and... and the first to be “treated” to a photographic cover (after Davison’s agent complained that the painted artwork by David McAllister was a poor likeness). Fortunately, the uninspiring photograph has been replaced by new artwork from Nicholas Spender - though AudioGO could have chosen to use McAllister’s version (which would actually have fit the shape of the CD cover rather well) or Alister Pearson’s artwork for the 1992 reprint. The published covers are reproduced in miniature inside the jewel case.

Though Doctor Who and the Visitation is unlikely to be near the top of anyone’s list of novelisations that demand revisitation, Waterhouse’s reading and Simon Power’s sound design inject more life into the prose than one might have thought possible.


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.

£8.08 (
£8.24 (
MP3 album
£10.60 (
£11.93 (
£9.49 (
£14.00 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.