Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles
The Blue Tooth

Author: Nigel Fairs
Read by: Caroline John
Big Finish Productions
RRP: 8.99
ISBN: 978 1 84435 265 4
Available 19 February 2007

"I suppose that was one of the Doctor's most endearing qualities: the ability to make the bizarre and the terrifying seem utterly normal." When did Liz Shaw decide to leave the Doctor...? When Liz's friend Jean goes missing, UNIT and its scientific advisor are drawn to the scene to investigate. Soon Liz discovers a potential alien invasion that will have far-reaching effects upon her own life. Meanwhile, the Doctor finds himself pitted against the deadly Cybermen once again...

And about time too! The Third Doctor never faced the Cybermen (once again voiced by the dependable Nicholas Briggs) during his television adventures - unless you count The Five Doctors, which I don't. In that anniversary special he only saw the cyborgs from a distance. He never truly confronted them or sparred with them verbally, as he does here. Incredibly, none of the writers of Virgin's Missing Adventures or of the BBC's "Past Doctor Adventures" pitted this incarnation against the Cybermen either, which is a pity, especially since Jon Pertwee detested the Daleks, whom ironically he encountered numerous times! Now at last author Nigel Fairs (a childhood fan of Pertwee's Doctor) has redressed the balance with this talking book.

Fairs also strives to bridge some of the narrative gaps that exist between the television stories Inferno, which marked narrator Caroline John's last regular appearance as Liz Shaw, and Terror of the Autons, by which time she had been replaced by Katy Manning's Jo Grant. Liz never got a proper departure scene on television, so here the author implies that this adventure contributes towards her decision to leave the Doctor and UNIT.

However, Fairs is walking through a continuity minefield! Gary Russell had previously depicted the scientist's departure in his 1996 Missing Adventures novel The Scales of Injustice (which also saw Mike Yates being promoted from sergeant to captain). Then, a year later, Martin Day and Keith Topping's The Devil Goblins from Neptune, the first BBC Books "Past Doctor Adventure" (set several months later and also featuring Captain Yates) showed that Liz was still around, so evidently she came back (numerous times, in fact, as David A. McIntee's The Wages of Sin eventually revealed). "When did I first decide to leave UNIT?" asks Liz at the start of this talking book. "Now there's a question - with no easy answer, I'm afraid." Never was a truer word spoken!

She also refers to Captain Yates as the "new boy", which is slightly problematic, since he was in The Scales of Injustice prior to his promotion. Furthermore, Terror of the Autons clearly states that he was present during the aftermath of Spearhead From Space. One must assume that Liz means "newly promoted" or that her use of "new boy" is a relative term, since Yates was not around as far back as The Invasion (unlike Benton and the Brigadier).

Far less contentious are the author's references to the Doctor donning a more colourful outfit during the course of this story.

The ending owes rather a lot to Doctor Who and the Silurians, but otherwise this is an excellent (no Cyber-pun intended) story, one that is augmented (still no Cyber-pun intended) by an emotive reading courtesy of Caroline John.

Richard McGinlay

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