Doctor Who
The Sandman

Starring: Colin Baker
Big Finish Productions
RRP 13.99
ISBN 1 903654 76 9, BFPDWCD7CF
Available now

The Sandman is a terrifying figure from the folklore of the nomadic Galyari species. He preys upon young and old alike, stealing their skins to add to his coat. When the TARDIS materialises within a fleet of migrating ships called the Clutch, Evelyn discovers that the Sandman also goes by another name: the Doctor...

If you were wondering why the Seventh Doctor referred to himself as the Sandman in last month's The Rapture, then perhaps this audio drama holds the answer.

Colin Baker is perfectly cast as the stuff of alien nightmares, over-acting superbly in his Sandman guise. No other incarnation is better suited to taking on the role of arch villain than the Sixth Doctor, whose alarming actions caused viewers (and Peri) great concern in The Twin Dilemma and Mindwarp. However, I did find it a little out of character that Baker's Doctor, who is usually so dismissive of Americanisms, here uses the word "headed" when he means "heading".

Like the recent Bernice Summerfield audio adventure, The Dance of the Dead, this tale also happens to deal with a reptilian species and race memories. The reptiles in this instance are the Galyari, a fascinating race of nomads who preserve their accumulated memories in an egg-like structure.

A coincidence of casting has Ian Hogg, who played the rapidly evolving Josiah Smith in Ghost Light, portraying another alien who sheds his skin: the reptilian General Voshkar. Once again, he is splendidly over-the-top. Meanwhile Anneke Wills, who played the 1960s companion Polly, puts in an emotive performance as another Galyari, Nrosha, although her heavily modulated voice means that she is virtually unrecognisable.

Writer Simon A Forward has created an original tale full of intriguing elements, such as the Clutch convoy and the notion of the Doctor being the monster. The third episode flags rather badly, and culminates in a pretty incomprehensible cliffhanger, but the strength of the central concepts keep hold of the listener's attention right through to the end.

Richard McGinlay