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Audio Book Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who and the Creature from the Pit


Author: David Fisher
Read by: Tom Baker
BBC Audio
RRP: £17.99
ISBN: 978 1 405 68763 8
Available 07 April 2008

The planet Chloris is very fertile, but metal is in short supply and has therefore become extremely valuable. A huge creature, with most unusual physical properties, arrives from an alien planet which can provide Chloris with metal from its own unlimited supplies, in exchange for chlorophyll. However, the ruthless Lady Adrasta has been able to exploit the shortage of metal to her own advantage, and has no wish to see the situation change. The Doctor and Romana land on Chloris just as the creature’s alien masters begin to lose patience over their ambassador’s long absence. The action the aliens decide to take will have devastating consequences for Chloris, unless something is done to prevent it...

David Fisher’s first two serials for Doctor Who, The Stones of Blood and The Androids of Tara, had been adapted into prose by Terrance Dicks, but for his next and final two stories, The Creature from the Pit and The Leisure Hive, Fisher handled the novelisation chores himself. Doctor Who and the Creature from the Pit first appeared in print in January 1981 (not 1975, as stated on the back cover - that would have been a most remarkable feat of time travel, as the serial itself wasn’t produced until 1979!).

At a basic structural level, the novelisation closely resembles the broadcast programme. However, it’s the little details that make this book so enjoyable. Perhaps taking a leaf out of the book (or perhaps I should say The Book) of Who’s script editor at the time, Douglas Adams, Fisher peppers his text with Hitchhiker-esque footnotes, which explain details such as the local flora and fauna, the Chlorisian zodiac, Erato’s home planet and his people’s mating cycle, and corrects Romana’s forgivable exaggeration about the Creature’s great weight. All of these footnotes are present, intoned sotto voce by Tom Baker, in this unabridged reading. The author also gives us an insight into Erato’s thought processes, conveying one scene from the Creature’s point of view.

Of course, the television serial’s main claim to infamy, the unintentionally comical sight of Erato’s phallic-looking appendage, doesn’t spoil the book version, though by way of compensation, Baker seems to relish saying the word “booty”!

Fisher makes his novelisation more adult-oriented than the source material. Adrasta’s facial expression is said to be “almost lustful” as she waits for the Creature to show up, “as if she were waiting for a lover to appear.” When the Doctor falls into the Pit, he lands on something soft and wet, which proves to be the body of Engineer Doran, crushed to a pulp. Later on, the Time Lord uses the word “hell”.

The absence of Adrasta during most of the final television episode, in which the script takes something of a detour, is only accentuated by this audio presentation, as the villain gets her comeuppance at the end of the third of four discs.

However, the strengths of the original script shine through. The author deals intelligently with the concepts of supply and demand with regard to Chloris’s lack of metal, and there are some marvellously deadpan lines, especially from Adrasta. “We call it the Pit,” she explains, as she introduces her inventively named hole in the ground. Later on, she similarly reveals what the people of Chloris call the creature that dwells within this pit: “We call it the Creature.”

Baker adopts a luxurious tone when depicting Adrasta, and puts on a comedy lisp when voicing the bandit leader Torvin.

All in all, Doctor Who and the Creature from the Pit is anything but the pits.


Richard McGinlay

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