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Audio Drama Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who
The Monster of Peladon


Starring: Jon Pertwee
BBC Audio
RRP: £13.99
ISBN: 978 1 405 67817 9
Available 03 March 2008

The TARDIS brings the Doctor and Sarah to the planet Peladon, some 50 years after the Time Lord’s first visit. Now part of the Galactic Federation, the Pel nobles enjoy new riches and technologies. But the Federation is at war with Galaxy Five, and Peladon has taken on a new tactical importance: it is rich in the mineral trisilicate, vital to the war effort. The Pel miners, however, are in revolt. For too long they have been overworked and taken for granted, and they believe that Federation machinery has awoken the vengeful spirit of the legendary beast Aggedor. The Doctor and Sarah must not only act as peace-keepers between the warring factions but also discover the truth behind this “spirit”. They soon learn that the Federation has been infiltrated by traitors and spies, determined to destroy the alliance from within...

This sequel to the four-part Curse of Peladon probably works better on audio (narrated by Elisabeth Sladen, who played Sarah) than it does on video. True, we miss out on seeing the Ice Warriors in all their green glory, the Third Doctor’s (Jon Pertwee) trademark Venusian aikido moves, 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. In 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 the royal beast Aggedor and the Ice Warriors, who are back to their old conquering ways, 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 - in fact, two of them. The miners’ dispute reflects the widespread industrial action that affected Britain during the 1970s, while Sarah introduces Queen Thalira (Nina Thomas) to the concept of women’s lib.

The aforementioned interview with Sladen is very brief - only 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!

Due to its duration, The Monster of Peladon isn’t as taut a production as The Curse of Peladon, but it’s still well worth revisiting. Indeed, following the recent CD releases of both Curse and Big Finish’s follow-up, The Bride of Peladon, you can now embark upon a monster marathon of all three Peladon serials.


Richard McGinlay

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