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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who and the Green Death


Author: Malcolm Hulke
Read by: Katy Manning
BBC Audio
RRP: £17.99 (CD), £10.80 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 405 68769 0 (CD)
Available 11 September 2008

The Green Death begins slowly. In a small Welsh mining village, a man emerges from the disused colliery covered in green slime. Minutes later he is dead. UNIT, with Jo Grant and the Doctor in tow, arrive on the scene to investigate, but Dr Stevens, director of the local refinery, Panorama Chemicals, is strangely reluctant to assist them with their inquiries. Are they in time to destroy the mysterious power that threatens them all before the whole village, perhaps even the entire world, is wiped out by a deadly swarm of green maggots...?

With its soap-box preaching about the evils of capitalism, the dangers of pollution, and the need for new sources of food and fuel, The Green Death is perhaps even more relevant today than it was back in 1973, when the original television serial was first broadcast, or in 1975, when this novelisation was first published in print. The subject matter also makes this tale ideal territory for the moralistic Malcolm Hulke. This is the only Hulke novelisation not to be based upon one of his own scripts (the actual script writers were Robert Sloman and an uncredited Barry Letts).

As usual, the author turns in many memorable passages, including a creepy insight into the mind of the thuggish henchman Hinks, as he looks forward to a torture scene in the comic he is reading, and a greater variety of blue flora and fauna during the Doctor’s ill-fated trip to Metebelis III than the BBC budget could stretch to. The romance between the departing Jo Grant and Professor Clifford Jones is better developed than it was on TV - though the story’s conclusion is more abrupt, with the celebratory party and the Doctor’s solo ride in Bessie omitted. The Doctor comes across as jealous and selfish when he learns of Jo’s interest in Cliff.

Katy Manning makes a welcome debut as a narrator for this range of audio books (though she has previously provided linking narration for a couple of BBC Audio’s Doctor Who television soundtrack releases, The Curse of Peladon and The Sea Devils). As ever, she gives an enthusiastic reading. Her involvement here is doubly pertinent, as not only did she play Jo Grant, but she’s also good at Welsh accents.

With a running time in excess of four hours, there’s lovely for you!


Richard McGinlay

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