In twelve tales from the TARDIS, various Doctors encounter
numerous foes and friends, including Ice Warriors, the Mara,
Lytton, Cybermen, the Master, a Krynoid, the Master (again),
Skagra's imprisoned minds and Iris Wildthyme...
is the storage capacity of MP3-CDs that BBC Worldwide has
managed to cram its entire Doctor
talking book output on to two of them. Admittedly, this range
was relatively short-lived, but nevertheless this volume runs
to a whopping nine and a half hours, while Volume Two is even
The reason why the Beeb only ever released ten such talking
books is largely due to the increasing appeal of full-cast
original audio dramas, particularly those produced by Big
Finish. Why listen to a single performer reading a third-hand
account of a TV story (third hand because these tend to be
abridged readings of Virgin Publishing novelisations based
on TV scripts) when there are so many full-cast dramas on
the market? It's true that talking books are of particular
interest to the visually impaired, but recordings of TV programmes
and movies are now becoming available with audio descriptions
that cater for such customers.
said that, there's still plenty to enjoy in this collection.
Each of the readers brings his or her unique vocal qualities
to the reading. For example, the various alien delegates in
The Curse of Peladon (based on Brian Hayles' novelisation
of his own script) allow Jon Pertwee to exercise his talents
as a voice artist, as he renders the squeaky Alpha Centauri
and a pair of hissing Ice Warriors. Only his guttural Arcturus
is less than entirely successful, sounding like a cross between
Ken Livingstone and Harry Enfield's Old Gits.
the best speaking voice of the bunch, Peter Davison does sterling
work with his reading of Kinda. Terrance Dicks' bland
novelisation of Christopher Bailey's script was one of the
author's weaker efforts, but Bailey's superb dialogue remains
intact. Davison well and truly brings this to life, sounding
uncannily like actor Richard Todd in the role of the gruff
Sanders and capturing Simon Rouse's breathlessly unhinged
Hindle. Additionally, we are spared the awful rubber snake
that ruined the climax of an otherwise classic serial. However,
Davison's attempt at Tegan's Australian accent is a bit over-the-top.
the three novelisations read in this volume, Eric Saward's
adaptation of Paula Moore's Attack of the Cybermen
differs most noticeably from its TV counterpart. The structure
of the narrative is rearranged considerably, with many of
Lytton's scenes grouped together during the first quarter
of the story, while many of the Doctor and Peri's scenes are
reserved for the second quarter. Much of the dialogue is also
markedly different from the televised version.
provides an impressive range of tough-sounding voices for
the various heavies and dodgy geezers - Lytton, Griffiths,
Russell, Payne, Stratton and Bates - and does a remarkably
accurate lilting Cryon voice. However, his American accent
for Peri is even more laughable than Davison's Aussie Tegan.
He also manages to mispronounce the Cryon name Threst as "thrust".
In Out of the Darkness and Short Trips, collections
of short stories that are mostly derived from BBC Books' first
two Short Trips anthologies, we see the publisher responding
to the appeal of those full-cast audio dramas. Many of these
stories are augmented by sound effects, voice modulation and
original music. Some, such as Moon Graffiti, read by
Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant, and Freedom, read by
Nicholas Courtney and Sophie Aldred, allow their two readers
to interact like performers in a drama.
The stories range from the quiet and touching, such as Jonathan
Blum's Model Train Set, to the downright madcap: with
its potent combination of time distortions, the Master, a
Krynoid and a talking bird, Robert Perry and Mike Tucker's
Stop the Pigeon seems even sillier here than it did
on the printed page.
bad accent crops up in Stop the Pigeon, courtesy of
Sophie Aldred's over-the-top attempt at Sylvester McCoy's
Scots brogue. To her credit, though, she does a good regional
accent in Tara Samms' Glass, as does Nicola Bryant
in Michael Collier's Vigil. For his part, Nicholas
Courtney succeeds in conveying the speech patterns of Jon
Pertwee and Tom Baker in Freedom (by Steve Lyons),
Degrees of Truth (by David A McIntee) and Old Flames
(by Paul Magrs).
readings of the novelisations are accompanied by images from
the original TV serials, though they rarely tally with the
actual events being described at any one time. The stories
from Out of the Darkness and Short Trips are
not illustrated in any such way. Surely the producers could
have used some generic shots of the relevant Doctors, companions
and other recurring characters? To add insult to injury, Dave
Stone is erroneously credited on screen for all three Out
of the Darkness stories, when in fact he only wrote Moon
my reservations about certain aspects of these readings, more
than nine hours of Who for less than twenty quid has
to be a bargain in anyone's (talking) book.
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