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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The Krotons


Starring: Patrick Troughton
BBC Audio
RRP: £13.99
ISBN: 978 1 40840 058 6
Available 13 November 2008

For millennia the Gonds and the Krotons have lived with an uneasy peace. The Krotons provide the Gonds with a limited education and in return they ask only that the brightest of the students join them in their crystalline ship as companions. Only the Doctor's arrival on the planet exposes this as a lie when he and his companions, Zoe and Jamie, witness the disintegration of one of the potential companions. Horrified, they make their way to the Gond city only to discover that a young girl is just completing the ceremony which will allow her to join the Krotons...

The Krotons appeared in the sixth season of Doctor Who and saw Patrick Troughton as the Doctor with Frazer Hines as Jamie and Wendy Padbury as Zoe. The show's four episodes originally aired between 28 December 1968 and 18 of January 1969. The show is notable for a couple of firsts. It was the first story by Robert Holmes, who would become a regular writer on the show influencing much of the serials direction. He continued until the late eighties, when he passed away. It also sees the first appearance of Philip Madoc, whose sonorous welsh tones are unmistakable. He would return to Who in The War Games, The Brain of Morbius and The Power of Kroll as well as incidentally having a successful career on both the small and big screen.

The show has the misfortune to exist in it entirety on film, misfortune because what seems to be quite a scary adversary for the Doctor in this audio adaptation was actually a bit pants to watch. In a post Star Wars world nobody is going to take a couple of guys lumbering around in a shoddy costume shooting off fire extinguishers very seriously.

As part of the last Troughton season The Krotons was a major disappointment, but as an audio it has been transformed into a creepy drama. True, the story of the Doctor landing on a planet to discover that a miscarriage of justice, on a massive scale, is being perpetrated by the Krotons against the Gonds and helping them to overcome their servitude is a little less than original.

What really raises this story up is the excellent soundscapes which have been created, soundscapes which for the most part would have been lost on transmission. The world of the Gonds is filled with pulsating sounds of dread, which adds much to the atmosphere and the, albeit slightly South African, voices of the Krotons is as threatening as your average Dalek with a migraine - scary stuff indeed. Given that the recording is so old it is also very clear. The narrator of the show is Frazer Hines who sets the scene and fills in the blanks for what we cannot see. Never too intrusive, the blend of Hines’s narration and story work very well.

What it comes down to is that like many of the older stories with their, now, less than special effects The Krotons is best enjoyed as an audio.


Charles Packer

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