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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Lost Stories
The Queen of Time


Author: Brian Hayles, adapted by Catherine Harvey
Performed by: Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury
Publisher: Big Finish Productions
RRP: £12.99 (CD), £10.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78178 096 1
Release Date: 31 October 2013

Somewhere outside our universe, she is waiting – a god-like immortal, with movie-star good looks but a cruel temperament, living in a realm of clocks. The hours tick slowly by as she plots and plans. Hecuba, the Queen of Time, is readying her trap – a trap for a very special man in a very special blue police box. Hecuba has all the time in the world. But for the Doctor, as well as his companions Jamie and Zoe, time is running out...

An alternative title for this adventure, which writer Catherine Harvey has fleshed out from just two pages of story breakdown by Brian Hayles, might have been The Celestial Timekeeper. In common with Hayles’s earlier creation the Celestial Toymaker, the Queen of Time loves to entice victims into her realm, to set challenges for them, and to keep the losers of those games imprisoned as inert objects in her collection – in this case of timepieces. She already knows of the Doctor, and the Doctor already knows about her.

Even the structure of the story mirrors that of The Celestial Toymaker, with the Doctor remaining close by his hostess’s side while his two companions face a number of potentially fatal puzzles and problems. It is possible that Hayles wanted to retell The Celestial Toymaker in his own way, since the original had been heavily rewritten by story editors Donald Tosh and Gerry Davis, but it does come across as a rehash of the earlier serial, which may explain why the submission was rejected by the Doctor Who production office in around 1968 (another reason could be that they already had the similarly surreal The Mind Robber in development). An explanation for the parallels with The Celestial Toymaker is eventually offered within the story, but unfortunately this occurs at the very end, which is rather late in the day.

However, a notable difference is the lack of speaking characters in The Queen of Time. Here we do not meet any of the god-like entity’s previous victims in animate form, such as Cyril or the King and Queen of Hearts in The Celestial Toymaker. Instead, Hecuba’s only living servants are a couple of dragon-like beasts called Snap and Dragon (I wonder how the Season 6 production team could have realised them). Another difference (which is contributed by Harvey, as she explains during the 14 minutes of interviews at the end of Disc 2) is that whereas the Toymaker challenged the First Doctor to play the Trilogic Game, Hecuba serves the Second Doctor a gruesome three-course meal. This revolting repast involves badly cooked meat and a greasy jam roly-poly – another name for which, the Doctor points out, is dead man’s leg. Ew!

As a result of the minimal cast of characters, this audio book feels almost like a full-cast drama. All of the main speaking characters have their own performer, with the exception of the Doctor himself. As usual, Frazer Hines doubles up as Jamie and the Second Doctor, the latter courtesy of his remarkable impersonation of the late Patrick Troughton. Meanwhile, Wendy Padbury holds back the years to recapture the youthful Zoe, and Caroline Faber is deliciously evil as Hecuba. The role of narrator is batted effortlessly between Hines and Padbury like a game of vocal tennis.

The production is further bigged up by Toby Hrycek-Robinson’s vivid sound design, which includes clocks galore and the dog-like panting of Snap and Dragon.

The Queen of Time truly turns back the clock.


Richard McGinlay

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