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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Lost Stories
Lords of the Red Planet


Author: Brian Hayles, adapted by John Dorney
Performed by: Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury
Publisher: Big Finish Productions
RRP: £16.99 (CD), £14.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78178 097 8
Release Date: 30 November 2013

The TARDIS crew land on Mars, home of the Ice Warriors, far back in its history. The Doctor is convinced that it’s much too early for them to meet their frozen foes… but the Doctor is wrong. Far below the surface of the planet an evil scheme is in motion. A scientist works night and day at the command of an insane despot – a despot who is intent upon creating a terrifyingly familiar army. What exactly does Zaadur plan? What dark secret lies at the heart of the Gandoran mines? How far will the Doctor go to save his friends? In the deepest caves, the true Lords of the Red Planet are ready to emerge. Can anyone possibly survive their birth...?

Years before even the Daleks had their own origin story in the Doctor Who television series, writer Brian Hayles almost gave us what could have been entitled Genesis of the Ice Warriors. The idea never got past the storyline stage, and The Seeds of Death went into production in its place... but now at last we can hear what we missed out on in 1969.

In common with Genesis of the Daleks, here we have a race faced with the prospect of extinction, and a deluded scientist accelerating the evolution of native life forms in order to create a species capable of surviving in its increasingly hostile environment.

However, it is not warfare but changes to the Martian climate that threaten the Gandorans’ continued existence, and the scientist, Quendril (played by Michael Troughton, son of Patrick) could hardly be more different from the deranged Davros. Quendril is a tortured soul, full of remorse for the suffering that his experiments are causing, but forced to continue against his will. More Davros-like qualities are exhibited by Zaadur (Abigail Thaw), one of Quendril’s earliest experimental subjects, who wants to use the Ice Warriors as her own all-conquering army. There are strong emotional ties between these characters, and also Veltreena (Charlie Hayes, daughter of Wendy Padbury), another of Quendril’s experimental offspring. Both in the script and behind the scenes, this is very much a family affair.

Perhaps not surprisingly, there are Frankenstein-like elements to this story of a scientist playing god. Risor, an imperfect prototype Ice Warrior (played by Nicholas Briggs), has characteristics of both Frankenstein’s monster (in sympathetic mode) and Igor, the hunchbacked lab assistant of the movies. Hayles’s story, which has been developed into full scripts by John Dorney, gives us what would have been the first incidence of friendly Ice Warriors (Nice Warriors, you might say), in the form of Risor and the Ice Lord Aslor (Briggs again). However, the Doctor’s mention of Martian honour feels a little out of place – the Time Lord should not be aware of that aspect of Ice Warrior culture just yet.

That aberration aside, the characterisation of the regulars is true to the era being emulated. Zoe is fascinated by the science, Jamie is bored by it and, thanks to Frazer Hines’s impersonation, it’s almost as if Patrick Troughton himself is exploring the tunnels and mine workings of Mars, getting himself into all kinds of scrapes. Steve Foxon’s incidental music is strongly reminiscent of Dudley Simpson’s lumbering Ice Warrior themes, though to my ear it sometimes smacks of a later period, more The Monster of Peladon than The Seeds of Death.

It’s a six-parter (“Yes, Jamie, it is a big one”), but Lords of the Red Planet doesn’t outstay its welcome. It boasts the largest cast to date of any Second Doctor Big Finish story – the only doubling up being performed by Hines as Jamie and the Doctor, and Briggs as various Martians. It has been nicely force-evolved from the meagre sample that Hayles left behind.


Richard McGinlay

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