Doctor Who
Genesis of the Daleks/Exploration Earth

Starring: Tom Baker
BBC Radio Collection
ISBN 0 563 47857 8
Available now

The Doctor, Sarah and Harry materialise on Skaro at a point in time before the Daleks evolved. The Time Lords have assigned the Doctor to either curb the creatures' thirst for conquest or destroy them utterly...

You may wonder what is the point of re-releasing this abridged audio version of Genesis of the Daleks yet again. After all, the complete six-part story exists in visual form. However, this 60-minute recording, originally released on LP in 1979 in order to boost audience anticipation of that year's Destiny of the Daleks, is a very significant bit of Who history. It was the BBC's first-ever commercial release of recorded material from the TV series, and it paved the way for future video and audio products.

In its abridged form, many scenes are glossed over with just a few words of narration by Tom Baker, but the essence of the classic tale still shines through. Great lines, usually Baker's, include "Something's annoyed them!" which is spoken while artillery fire rains down on the time-travellers. The majority of the scenes featuring the wonderfully sinister performances of Peter Miles as Nyder and Michael Wisher as Davros are also preserved. I still wonder, however, how the Doctor managed to win over any supporters by telling people that he was from the future!

One small story detail that is changed by the 1979 narration is that the Doctor steps from the TARDIS at the beginning of the story, as opposed to arriving by transmat beam as he did on TV. This was presumably done for clarity, as the serial originally followed on from The Sontaran Experiment, but later dialogue is rendered nonsensical by this rewrite. If the TARDIS had landed on Skaro, then the Time Ring given to the Doctor by the Time Lords (a typical Terry Nation device, this - ideal for mislaying at inconvenient moments!) would not be the travellers' "only hope" of getting off the planet.

I was a bit disappointed that the half-time cliffhanger, which marked the end of side one of the LP, has been removed from the CD. Why do this, when the ten-minute episode structure of Slipback had been preserved for its recent CD release? In other respects, however, this precious piece of merchandising history remains intact.

The Doctor shows Sarah various stages in the formation of the Earth. But the travellers encounter a chaotic force that seeks to undo the planet's stability...

Not heard since 1976, Exploration Earth: The Time Machine (to give its full title) is a special BBC schools radio programme. As such the plot, in which the Doctor faces off Megron the High Lord of Chaos (John Westbrook), plays second fiddle to the educational nature of the 20-minute production. However, the Doctor and Sarah (Elisabeth Sladen) remain in character.

Like the audio version of Genesis, this is another little bit of history: the first Doctor Who episode ever to be broadcast on the radio. While the plot is no great shakes, it's a good laugh to hear it at long last.

Richard McGinlay