Doctor Who
The Savages

Starring: William Hartnell
BBC Radio Collection
RRP 13.99
ISBN 0 563 53502 4
Available now

The Doctor, Steven and Dodo land on a planet in the far future, a supposedly idyllic and enlightened age. But the planet's population is divided into two castes. The comfortable lifestyle of the Elders is starkly contrasted by the harsh existence led by the Savages...

November must have been decreed "official William Hartnell month" by BBC Worldwide. In addition to their First Doctor Box Set, they have also released this audio presentation of The Savages, which rather conveniently follows on from The Gunfighters, the final story in the video box set.

Ian Stuart Black's script contains few surprises, apart from the virtual dual role that is played by Frederick Jaeger as the lead Elder, Jano. Director Christopher Barry compensates for the unremarkable script by making the adventure noticeably more melodramatic than usual.

The Doctor is more vocally outraged than ever before about the injustices he witnesses on the unnamed planet. He goes so far as to compare the evil he perceives to that of the Daleks. This bit of dramatic shorthand is intended to heighten the sense of danger, and is a device that Black would use again in the next serial, The War Machines. Accordingly, Steven (Peter Purves) is even more gung-ho than usual, while Dodo (Jackie Lane) is as spirited as we have ever seen or heard her before. Even the incidental music, composed and conducted by Raymond Jones, is distinctly over-the-top in places.

The departure of Steven is rather poignant, especially when you consider the perfunctory ways in which Dodo and her successors Ben and Polly would eventually exit the series.

The Savages is a decent enough little story, so it's not going to be savaged too badly by this particular critic.

Richard McGinlay

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