Click here to return to the main site.

Audio Book Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who and the Brain of Morbius


Author: Terrance Dicks
Read by: Tom Baker
BBC Audio
RRP: £17.99
ISBN: 978 1 405 67798 1
Available 04 February 2008

Why do so many spaceships crash land on Karn, a bleak, lonely and seemingly deserted planet? Are they doomed by the mysterious powers of the strange, black-robed Sisterhood, who jealously guard the Sacred Flame, from which their Elixir of Life comes? Or does the mad Dr Mehendri Solon, for some evil purpose of his own, need the bodies of the victims for his experiments - and more especially, the body of the Doctor? And what is the connection with the executed Time Lord criminal Morbius...?

BBC Audio allows narrator Tom Baker to stray from the original wording of Terrance Dicks’s 1977 novelisation for a moment at the beginning of this unabridged audio presentation. Following the customary “The cover illustration of this book portrays the fourth Doctor Who”, Baker quietly adds, “Me”. Well, it made me smile!

Aside from that, Baker sticks to the letter of Dicks’s book, which is itself based upon the 1976 television serial of the same name. The author himself doesn’t stray far from the transmitted material, which is perhaps surprising given that Script Editor Robert Holmes rewrote the scripts to such an extent that Dicks demanded his name be removed from the credits and replaced by “some bland pseudonym”. Thus was born the pen name of Robin Bland, who retains his credit as script writer on the booklet inside this four-disc release.

Though he doesn’t seem to incorporate any elements from his original draft, which was to have featured a robot servant striving to re-create its master, a very different spin on the Frankenstein myth to the broadcast version, Dicks adds many subtle enhancements to his novelisation. For example, he explores the background of Kriz, the dying insectoid at the start of the story, who is certainly not the Mutt (from The Mutants) seen on TV. He describes the concept of sensory deprivation, which is threatening to drive Morbius insane. The Doctor’s controversial decision to use lethal gas against a human being is questioned by Sarah and justified by the Time Lord: unless Solon is stopped, untold millions of lives will be endangered. Throughout the book, Dicks includes beautifully macabre touches, such as his descriptions of Kriz’s “tough, chitinous carapace ... cracked clear across, and thick purplish blood [welling] sluggishly from the wound, leaving a glistening trail across the rocks behind him” to Solon’s pain as Condo’s hook catches “a pinch of his skin”. This does not feel like the work of an author who resents the changes made to his script, but rather that of one who has discovered he loves the story after all (so much so that he later penned a prequel, Warmonger).

Dicks is more cagey about the faces seen on screen during the mind-bending contest, which seem to be incarnations of the Doctor prior to William Hartnell’s “First Doctor” - here the author describes Sarah seeing only “a confused impression of even more faces”. He also cheats a bit by describing things the blinded Sarah cannot see, especially during the all-important climaxes to Chapters 6 and 9, which are based upon the cliffhanger endings to Parts 2 and 3 of the television serial.

In fact, due to the four-hour duration of this reading, each CD represents exactly one episode of the TV show, with each CD ending as its equivalent episode does.

Baker does his usual sterling work as the narrator, though his rendition of Solon sounds more like Joseph Furst’s Professor Zaroff (The Underwater Menace) than Philip Madoc’s famous performance as the villain of the piece. Unlike Jon Pertwee in The Green Death, Baker pronounces the word “chitinous” correctly, but he gets “chameleon” wrong (he pronounces it “shameleon”).

Mike Little’s cover illustration is rather naff, showing a Doctor who looks more like John Levene than Tom Baker, and a seemingly old and toothless Dr Solon, but it is authentic to the original book.

Any fan with half a brain will want to own this product.


Richard McGinlay

Buy this item online

We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£9.89 (
£11.99 (
£17.99 (
£12.49 (
£16.99 (
£17.09 (
£12.43 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.