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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
Destiny of the Doctor


Author: Jonathan Morris
Performed by: Lalla Ward
AudioGO / Big Finish
RRP: £10.20, US $16.95
ISBN: 978 1 4713 1170 3
Available 04 April 2013

The violent, volcanic world of Hephastos is home to a colony of composers, painters, authors and poets, all striving to create the greatest works of art the universe has ever seen. But in pursuit of their goal, artistic collaboration has been taken a stage too far... When the Doctor and Romana arrive, they discover that the colonists have neglected their well-being, and their once beautiful habitat has now succumbed to decay. They are enslaved to the Babble network, which occupies their every waking moment. Every thought, however trivial, is shared with everyone else and privacy is now a crime. The colonists are being killed, and the time travellers begin to suspect that a malevolent intelligence is at work...

The fourth instalment in this 50th-anniversary series is a curious blend of authentic and anachronistic.

Remaining true to the television era that he is depicting (the humorous Season 17, when Douglas Adams was script editor), writer Jonathan Morris offers us an appropriately offbeat adventure featuring officious robots, unusual rebels, and plenty of verbal repartee between the Doctor and Romana (though some of this veers towards the bad-tempered tiffs of the subsequent season). Sound designer Steve Foxon matches the tone with some decidedly Dudley Simpson style bass and percussion, together with technological bleeps and burbles of which Dick Mills of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop would have been proud.

However, whereas the plots to the last couple of Destiny of the Doctor releases have been very much a reflection of the past, the subject matter of Babblesphere is bang up to date (though it is possible that Adams might have predicted aspects of it). The writer satirises social networks such as Facebook and Twitter with all the subtlety of Robert Holmes’s all-out attack on the Inland Revenue in The Sun Makers. LOL! In common with The Sun Makers, a real-world phenomenon (if that’s the right phrase to apply to social media) is taken to its logical but unsettling extreme. Whereas Facebook can be something of a distraction in the modern workplace, the Babble network has caused a complete economic collapse. OMG! Echoing current fears about the sharing of personal information, privacy has been outlawed on the planet Hephastos, and any criticism of this policy is met with arguments that will sound all too familiar. Those wishing to keep secrets are regarded with suspicion – what have they got to hide?

There’s a somewhat sexist premise at the heart of Morris’s story, IMHO. Most of the rebels are elderly women (well realised, BTW, by narrator Lalla Ward), whose Babble implants have worn out through overuse, because of course women are incorrigible gossips. WTF! Another problem is the absence of the Doctor during the middle part of the story, his most minimal role in the series so far. During this time, Romana meets local inhabitant Aurelius (Roger Parrott), who explains his society’s back story to her (and to us).

Fortunately, the two Time Lords are reunited in time for a splendidly satirical resolution, which should delight fans on at least a couple of levels. Regular listeners will by now be expecting a cameo appearance by the Eleventh Doctor, though this occurs rather late in the proceedings. If you are beginning to find these interruptions a little tiresome and predictable by now, the refreshing thing is that so does the Fourth Doctor! LMAO!

Babblesphere may have a few negative comments, but it’s far from being an epic fail. Richard McGinlay likes this.


Richard McGinlay

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