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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
Classic TV Adventures
Collection One


Starring: Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker
Publisher: BBC Audio
RRP: £40.00 (CD), £12.00 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78529 744 1
Release Date: 05 April 2017

Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker star as the Doctor in these narrated full-cast TV soundtracks of classic Doctor Who serials, in which they encounter the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Ice Warriors, the Silurians and more. These seven soundtracks are enhanced with linking narration by Frazer Hines, Caroline John, Katy Manning, Elisabeth Sladen, John Leeson and Lalla Ward, all of whom also recall their time as the Doctor’s companion in a series of bonus interviews…

Having brought out box sets of all its narrated soundtracks of missing Doctor Who adventures (one of which, The Enemy of the World, is no longer missing, but let’s not split hairs), BBC Audio is now repackaging its releases of serials that exist in their entirety in the BBC’s film and videotape archives. It’s a smaller range of titles – unlike the missing episodes, only a selection of these tales were ever issued on audio. Therefore, rather than collect them chronologically, these box sets aim for variety by presenting stories from decades apart and featuring various incarnations of the Doctor.

On the planet Telos, a party of archaeologists uncover the legendary tomb of the Cybermen…

The collection kicks off with the Patrick Troughton serial The Tomb of the Cybermen, which, like The Enemy of the World, used to be a lost story. This famous four-parter proved to be something of an archaeological find in its own right when it suddenly reappeared in 1992, recovered from a TV station in Hong Kong, having been missing presumed wiped since the 1970s. Back in ’92, the BBC was making its first foray into releasing narrated Doctor Who soundtracks (on audio cassette) and Tomb was one of the initial titles selected for such treatment under the Missing Stories banner. But then, would you believe it, all of a sudden it wasn’t missing any more! However, Jon Pertwee had already recorded the linking narration and so, a year later, the Beeb went ahead and released the tape anyway.

This time, the ever-reliable Frazer Hines (Jamie) fulfils the voice-over duties, as he had previously done on several CDs of lost stories. At the end of the second disc, he also shares his memories of making the show, the addition of Deborah Watling (Victoria) to the regular cast, and what it was like working for the often inflexible director Morris Barry.

But what of the story itself? Well, no matter which medium you experience it in, be it on DVD, in print or on audio, The Tomb of the Cybermen works exceptionally well. Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis’s scripts draw inspiration from the ‘mummy’s tomb’ genre of horror movies. The dramatic build-up is gradual but perfectly judged, and the pace rarely falters. The climax to Episode Two is particularly impressive. The thawing of the ice tombs would have made an excellent cliffhanger in itself… but wait, there’s more. The Cybermen climb out of their cells and advance upon the archaeologists… but there’s still more to come. Kaftan (Shirley Cooklin) is attacked by a Cybermat… but that’s not the end, either. The Cyberman Controller (Michael Kilgarriff) is revived, yet there’s a further shock to come…

Cooklin is splendidly villainous as Kaftan. Though theoretically subservient to Klieg (the equally good George Pastell), she is like Lady Macbeth as she goads him into action, and is practically calling the shots during the latter half of the story. Her devoted Negro servant Toberman (Roy Stewart) is something of a racial stereotype, but this is simply a sign of the times in which this serial was made (1967) and his fate is an undeniably poignant one. Add to this the lovely character moments such as the heart-warming scene in which the Doctor and Victoria discuss their families, and we have a strong contender for the greatest Troughton story of them all. The tautness of its plot beats the flabbier Evil of the Daleks in my estimation.

It could be argued that Tomb works even better on audio than it does on TV. Here we are spared the sight of clearly visible wires as a Cyberman lifts Toberman in Episode Three, and an obviously empty dummy costume as Toberman hurls the Cyberman Controller across the room during Episode Four.

The Cyber troops’ buzzing voices still sound rather ridiculous when they are in ‘attack’ mode, and some of Victoria’s opening lines are somewhat snigger-inducing: “It’s so big… What are all these knobs?” On the other hand, we hear some excellent use of stock music, including the famous Cyber-theme, Martin Slavin’s ‘Space Adventure’.

With the rest of Season 5 already issued as part of the Lost TV Episodes range, this story completes the set rather nicely.


Richard McGinlay


A group of intelligent, indigenous reptiles is awoken – and they believe Earth to be their planet…

The next two stories, Doctor Who and the Silurians and The Sea Devils, had previously appeared in another audio box set, Monsters on Earth, before being re-released individually (and somewhat inexplicably) in the very same month as the DVD box set of the self-same stories. Surely that’s Earth Reptile overkill? This reissue is less carelessly timed, and the audio version of The Silurians has plenty to offer.

Here Jon Pertwee plays the Doctor – for only the second time, but he’s already settled into his dashing portrayal – with Caroline John as his companion Liz Shaw. If that wasn’t enough for you, the show also stars “five rounds rapid” Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, whose upper lip was so stiff it extended to his forehead. Listen out, too, for Fulton Mackay (Dr Quinn), who would find lasting fame in Porridge, and Geoffrey Palmer as Masters. If you listen really carefully, you can also spot Paul Darrow (Captain Hawkins), better known as Avon in Blake’s 7. And joining the show at this point is the Doctor’s beloved yellow roadster Bessie – which can be seen stuck, as an apparent after-thought, on the photo-montage CD artwork.

Unlike the Lost TV Episodes collections, the stories in this set do not have their own individual jewel cases. Instead, the CDs are stacked inside the more minimal packaging on a central spindle. Therefore, we don’t get to see the previous release’s cover artwork in all its ‘glory’, though most of it is visible on the CDs themselves. That’s fortunate in a way, as the artwork for The Silurians is unintentionally funny! Just what is that dinosaur doing to the Doctor? God only knows – though, by the look on Pertwee’s face, they would make a happy couple. Meanwhile, Major Baker (Norman Jones), who has a better vantage point on the action, appears to have fainted from the shock of it all.

The additional narration this time around is provided by Caroline John. For the most part this works well, and John is certainly up to the task. A nice bonus that occurred to me is that the music, which is often ignored or relegated to the background of one’s consciousness (in the old series, anyway), seems to drift much further into the foreground, though without drowning out the dialogue. This added clarity is perhaps due to the uncompressed nature of the audio files, and it adds much to the show’s feel.

Doctor Who and the Silurians was originally broadcast in 1970 as a seven-part story, making it the longest of the Earth Reptile tales (and it has to be said that the middle episodes do seem unnaturally elongated). As such, the audio is spread across three CDs, with a combined running time of three hours and ten minutes. By way of a bonus, because everything has to come with a bonus these days, Caroline John also recalls her time as Liz Shaw and the making of the story. This runs to a satisfying 19 minutes and 42 seconds. There’s also a short item (2 minutes and 23 seconds) from BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about the Derbyshire caves. Like I said, there’s plenty on offer here to please fans of the show.


Charles Packer


The Silurians’ amphibious cousins are revived from their hibernation – thanks to the Master…

The Sea Devils is the second of Jon Pertwee’s clashes with the Silurians / Eocenes / Earth Reptiles / whatever you want to call them. The television show was originally broadcast in 1972. This time Pertwee is accompanied by Katy Manning playing his companion Jo (every time I think of her, that infamous Dalek photo keeps popping into my head – if you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you’re probably too young to look at the picture anyway). The adventure is greatly enhanced by the presence of Roger Delgado’s version of the Master, who as we join the story is apparently incarcerated in a high-security prison just off the south coast.

Whereas some of the shows in this collection arguably work as well on audio as they did on screen, if not better, mainly due to the fact that you don’t have to suffer the bad sets and dodgy costumes, this is not the case with The Sea Devils. More correctly, the show loses as much as it gains. The costumes were not too bad, and the monsters moved in a convincing manner. One of the nice things about the Sea Devils is that the little suckers can run, skulk and generally act in a dynamic way that is missing from many of the Who monsters. Add to that the number of vehicles used and tons of outside filming, and I think that this tale of disappearing ships and battles at sea and on the shore actually lacks something without the visuals. The worst loss is Roger Delgado’s facial reaction to watching the Clangers on his TV – a scene that still causes debate over whether the Master thought they were real or not.

OK, I’ll concede that I never thought the fight scenes were very convincing in this story, so not being able to see those in particular is a bonus.

The six-episode adventure uses the same audio as the DVD release, with Katy Manning filling in the gaps so that listeners can make sense of the whole thing. The story runs to a whopping two hours and forty minutes and is spread across two CDs. Not to be outdone by its bigger DVD cousin, the CD has an extra in the form of an interview with Manning for you to immerse yourself in.


Charles Packer


The Doctor and Jo are mistaken for Galactic Federation delegates on the planet of Peladon…

Another pair of Pertwee tales begins with The Curse of Peladon. This is one of my favourite Third Doctor stories, not least because of its unusually diverse selection of alien life forms, including the hermaphrodite hexapod Alpha Centauri, the half-automaton Arcturus, two Ice Warriors and the legendary royal beast Aggedor. The visual appeal of such creatures is of course lost during this audio presentation, which is narrated by Katy Manning, though we do still get to hear the shrill tones of the wonderfully timid Alpha Centauri (Ysanne Churchman). The participation of the Ice Warriors is particularly interesting, as writer Brian Hayles elevates them above the status of mere monsters (as they had been in two previous Patrick Troughton stories) into one of the earliest examples (after the Silurians) of a fully rounded, intelligent alien culture in Doctor Who.

The scripts’ European Union allegory, with the Federation standing in for the EU and Peladon representing Britain, still resonates today – not so much in the Peladonians’ fear of new technology or of mineralogical exploitation, but rather their fears about loss of sovereignty and the undermining of local laws. You mark my words, they’ll be voting for Pexit in a few decades’ time…

Unusually for the classic series, The Curse of Peladon is a genuinely emotional tale, thanks to the central performances of David (son of Patrick) Troughton as King Peladon and Katy Manning as Jo Grant. Troughton brings the role of the lonely and uncertain young ruler vividly to life, the first of many guest characters to fall for Jo. The warmth that exists between Peladon and his mentor Hepesh (Geoffrey Toone) in early scenes also makes the latter’s betrayal all the more tragic.

Manning provides a lively reading of the linking narration, relishing descriptions such as Alpha Centauri’s “one huge eye” – though there’s probably also a degree of relief at having finally got that line out, as the out-takes at the end of the first disc reveal! In her interview with Mark Ayres at the end of CD 2, the actress recalls the making of the production, including the very real attraction that existed between her and Troughton.

Though I’m still not sure why so many characters are named after their planets or star systems of origin (Peladon, Alpha Centauri, Arcturus), this right royal beast of a yarn works almost as well on audio as it does on screen.


Richard McGinlay


The Doctor finds that trouble still lurks in the tunnels of Peladon, as do some familiar enemies…

The follow-up The Monster of Peladon probably works better in sound (narrated by Elisabeth Sladen, who played Sarah) than it does in vision. True, we miss out on seeing the Ice Warriors in all their green glory, the Third Doctor’s (Jon Pertwee) trademark Venusian aikido, and the full impact of the cliffhanger to Part Three. On the other hand, we can enjoy Rex Robinson’s earnest performance as the head miner Gebek without wondering why his hairdo looks like a badger, and we are spared the sight of stuntman Terry Walsh very obviously standing in for Pertwee during the Doctor’s fight with Ettis (Ralph Watson) in Part Four. During her interview with Mark Ayres at the end of the second disc, Sladen also recalls the visual shortcomings of Alpha Centauri, though personally I have always adored this character, largely thanks to the vocal talents of Ysanne Churchman, who returns here.

Other familiar creatures include good old Aggedor and the Ice Warriors, who are up to their old militaristic tricks again, though this time there’s no representative from Arcturus. 2000 AD fans may be interested and/or amused to hear the helmeted Martian Lord Azaxyr (Alan Bennion) acting like some kind of precursor to Judge Dredd as the Ice Warriors declare martial law. He actually utters the phrases “judge, jury and executioner” and “I am the law”!

In common with the previous Peladon serial, and indeed most of producer Barry Letts’s era, there’s a topical element to the story – two of them, in fact. The miners’ dispute reflects the widespread industrial action that affected Britain in the 1970s, while Sarah introduces Queen Thalira (Nina Thomas) to the concept of women’s lib.

The aforementioned interview with Sladen is very brief – just four minutes long – and ends rather abruptly, which makes me wonder why BBC Audio didn’t push the boat out and include a third disc. On the other hand, perhaps Sladen’s vocal cords needed a rest after narrating six whole episodes!

Owing to its six-part duration, The Monster of Peladon isn’t as tight a tale as its four-part predecessor, but it’s still well worth revisiting. Indeed, following the release of Big Finish’s follow-ups, The Bride of Peladon and The Prisoner of Peladon, you can now embark upon an audio marathon of Peladon serials.


Richard McGinlay


The Doctor becomes entangled in a struggle between the insane Captain and sinister Mentiads…

The Pirate Planet is a four-part Tom Baker story, here presented as a two-disc, two-hour audio adventure with additional narration by John Leeson (the voice of K9). The linking script was written by John Molyneux.

You may be wondering why writer Douglas Adams’s own scripts could not be used to provide the links. Molyneux may well have sourced some descriptions from there, but the narration needs to fill specific gaps between the dialogue and not be too verbose or else we could be here all day. He provides an appropriate level of description to piece the soundtrack together. One of the bonuses of an audio presentation over that of the original television show is that the listener has licence to imagine anything they wish. Anything more prescriptive would limit the listener, at which point you might as well just watch the original, dodgy scenery and all.

Talking of scripts, the individual release of this soundtrack (and the next one, Destiny of the Daleks) had included PDF scans of the original camera scripts, which are conspicuous by their absence here. Also missing are all the liner notes from the individual CDs, which were supposed to have been presented as PDFs in this box set. BBC Audio has confirmed that the PDFs were erroneously excluded, but that future pressings will be corrected. If you have bought a version of this collection that lacks the PDFs, then you can request them from the company by emailing

Though part of the Key to Time series, with the Doctor and Romana (Mary Tamm) searching for one of the segments, The Pirate Planet nevertheless works well as a standalone story. Adams was an accomplished comic writer, and though I don’t think anyone would consider this to be as good as his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it contains enough of his wit to remain amusing. Adams’s sense of the absurd is well complemented by Tom Baker’s delivery of the lines, a man who is himself in touch with his inner surreal.

Despite the lack of PDFs, there is still an extra in the form of an interview with John Leeson about his time on the show, during which he pays poignant tribute to the late Mary Tamm.


Charles Packer


On Skaro, the Doctor encounters the militaristic Movellans, who are there on a secret mission…

Destiny of the Daleks is a peculiar mixture, due no doubt to the conflicting priorities of script writer Terry Nation and incoming script editor Douglas Adams. From Nation, we get story elements that are unusually grim and dark for this era of the show, such as rubble-strewn radioactive ruins, dead bodies, and talk of zombies. “You can always tell a genuine zombie,” the Doctor tells Romana (who has newly regenerated into Lalla Ward), “The skin is cold to the touch.” The use of Skaro atmosphere sound effects from the very first Dalek serial effectively backs up the mood. From Adams, we get whimsical incidents such as K9 developing laryngitis, the Doctor’s delighted exclamation of “Oh, look – rocks!” when he activates the scanner, and a book written by Oolon Colluphid. Later on, the Doctor’s mockery of a Dalek for not being able to climb after him is definitely not the work of Terry Nation!

As a direct sequel to Genesis of the Daleks, this serial contains a surprising number of continuity glitches. For instance, the Doctor knows exactly where to find Davros’s body within the ruins of the Kaled City, despite the fact that Davros had actually been exterminated in the Kaled bunker. (Perhaps the Time Lord was referring to the Daleks’ own city, which had been built around the bunker.) For the purposes of the plot, the Daleks are said to be robots who are entirely dependent upon logic, whereas previously (and since) they had been semi-organic beings driven by the emotions of fear and hatred. The databanks of the Movellans are incorrect when they state that Davros is a mutant – if he was, then surely he would have been banished into the wastelands along with the other Mutos.

On the plus side, on audio we cannot see the tattiness of the Dalek props or of Davros’s mask in this production, though we are stuck with the disappointing lack of modulation on the voice of the actor playing Davros (David Gooderson), and Tom Baker still fluffs his delivery of the line “Back off” – which amusingly comes out as “Spack off!”

The whole, rather mindlessly entertaining affair is narrated by Lalla Ward, who has to speak quickly in order to fit in all the descriptions between the dialogue. In an interview at the end of the second disc, she discusses her artistic side, the unfinished (and yet repeatedly remade) Shada and her dear departed friend Douglas Adams.



If you need some comfortingly familiar Who to while away a long car journey or a huge heap of ironing, then this box set could be for you. On the other hand, if the lack of visuals or the absence of PDFs puts you off, then you can just spack off!

Richard McGinlay

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