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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
Destiny of the Doctor
Vengeance of the Stones


Author: Andrew Smith
Performed by: Richard Franklin
AudioGO / Big Finish
RRP: £10.20, US $24.95
ISBN: 978 1 4713 1169 7
Available 07 March 2013

Two RAF fighter jets are on a training flight over North East Scotland when one of them is plucked from the air and promptly disappears. UNIT are called in, and the Doctor and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart are soon on the scene. They enlist the help of a local military officer – a young lieutenant named Mike Yates. The Doctor discovers a link to the recumbent stone circles that are plentiful in this part of Scotland. The stones are thousands of years old, and are soon revealed to hold a terrible secret. When Mike disappears, the race is on for the Doctor and the Brigadier to save their new friend and the entire planet Earth...

This, the third release in the 50th-anniversary Destiny of the Doctor series, is perhaps even more faithful to the television era it depicts than the previous one, Shadow of Death.

Fans of the early Third Doctor / UNIT period will find themselves on familiar ground. You can almost see the location work as the Doctor and the Brigadier visit real Scottish locations such as Lossiemouth and the Easter Aquhorthies stone circle. There’s plenty of action, with the Third Doctor’s love of fast-moving vehicles very much in evidence – he drives Bessie at insane speeds and pilots an RAF fighter (this and other aircraft are brought to life with exciting sound effects by Simon Hunt). Also present and correct are the trigger-happy UNIT troops, shouting and shooting away – you half expect a credit for “Action by Havoc” at the end! Characteristically taking a more pacifist approach, the Doctor attempts to broker peace with vengeful aliens and uses Venusian aikido for the first time in his third incarnation. UNIT also reuses its Hercules transport plane HQ, from The Invasion, and the Doctor rubs the back of his neck a couple of times.

What is slightly disconcerting is writer Andrew (Full Circle) Smith’s use of plot elements that seem familiar from other stories, and even other eras of the show, but which are not actually the same thing at all. We have dormant aliens awoken by human industrial activity, but they not Silurians. We have the disappearance of an aircraft, an event that the Doctor attempts to re-stage with himself on board, though there is no exponential time contour. We have some sinister standing stones, but they are not Ogri (nor indeed do they have anything to do with Richard Franklin’s unofficial Mike Yates audio book The Killing Stone). There is also a powerful blue stone, but it is not a Metebelis crystal – though one does wonder whether Mike’s experiences here might have something to do with his susceptibility to blue crystals later in life...

The writer also includes some unfamiliar territory: the never-before-seen recruitment of Yates into UNIT. AudioGO has previously presented Mike’s most recent exploits, chronologically speaking, in its Fourth Doctor / Nest Cottage range, so it is quite fitting that the company should now turn its attention to his very first adventure.

This does beg the question of where Liz Shaw is while all this is going on. Even discounting previous licensed fiction such as the novel The Eye of the Giant (which I’ll come to in a moment), I don’t think this story can take place after her departure, because the Doctor uses Venusian aikido in Inferno. Furthermore, Mike must have joined UNIT not long after Spearhead From Space, because according to Terror of the Autons he was responsible for clearing up after the first Auton invasion. I guess Liz must be working on some other assignment during the events of this audio play, which I would place between The Ambassadors of Death and Inferno.

It’s also strange that the Brigadier makes no mention of his Scottish ancestry, revealed in Terror of the Zygons.

The novels The Eye of the Giant and The Scales of Injustice previously depicted Yates serving UNIT as a sergeant prior to being promoted to captain. However, such a promotion would be highly unusual if not impossible in most real-life armies, so his rank of lieutenant here makes much more sense. As to why he is apparently busted down to sergeant in those two novels... perhaps UNIT faces budget cuts that coincide with Yates’s transfer. In The Eye of the Giant, the Brigadier admits to Yates that neither the UN nor the British government will allow UNIT sufficient funds for additional officers. It may be that between Vengeance of the Stones and The Eye of the Giant, Mike accepts what he hopes will prove to be (and indeed is) a temporary demotion in order to serve with UNIT. His patience pays off, and he is promoted to captain at the end of The Scales of Injustice.

Franklin gives a compelling reading, thankfully avoiding an imitation of Jon Pertwee’s lisp, which I criticised in my review of the Companion Chronicle The Rings of Ikiria. He conveys the vocal mannerisms of Pertwee and Nicholas Courtney (as the Brigadier) in more subtle ways, and occasionally his tone of voice is eerily similar to that of Pertwee’s Doctor.

In common with The Companion Chronicles, Franklin is supported by a secondary voice artist, in this case Big Finish stalwart Trevor Littledale. He lends the alien Garlin as much emotional range as possible, given the fairly basic characterisation in the script. Garlin starts off seeming like quite a pleasant chap, but he quickly loses patience when Mike fails to co-operate to his liking. Littledale is occasionally hampered by dialogue that sounds rather conversationally British for an alien being, such as: “oh, let me introduce them”, “wasn’t quite up to it” and “well done, yes”.

The overall story arc of the Destiny of the Doctor series presents itself in almost exactly the same way as it did in Shadow of Death. This plot strand does not move forward to any noticeable extent. We shall have to wait and see what develops in the next instalment, Babblesphere...

Well, that’s my opinion set in stone. 


Richard McGinlay

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