Theres danger and adventure aplenty for the Doctor
and Rose Tyler as they become embroiled with: an ancient Roman
mystery involving a missing boy, a clairvoyant girl and a
2000-year-old statue of Rose; a chilling secret surrounding
a sunken naval cruiser and its ghostly crew, who return to
haunt their loved ones; a renegade mining planet that could
be home to vanished pirate treasure and the legendary key
to eternal life; a village where the residents are being plagued
by nightmares, monsters and an ancient evil; a struggle to
save the world from an alien intelligence in a dormant volcano
in 22nd-century Africa; and a once-perfect planet that has
grown sick, a disease for which only the Doctor and Rose can
find the cure...
box set contains all six audio books featuring the Tenth Doctor
and Rose, the first three of which are read by Doctor Ten
himself, David Tennant.
is a talented voice artist, so he provides a wealth of different
voices for the characters. For example, the aged Roman Gracilis
in The Stone Rose sounds rather like Prince Charles,
while the oafish sculptor Ursus reminds me of
Russell Crowe. Tennants rendition of the wish-granting
GENIE comes across as not unlike London Mayor Ken Livingstone
or the Ferengi Grand Nagus Zek in Star
Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Naturally, his impersonation of the Tenth Doctor is perfect!
And because he reads in his native Scots brogue, its
easy to tell where the narration ends and the Doctors
speech begins. He also uses his Scottish accent in The
Feast of the Drowned, for the voice of the helpful Vida
Swann, while the villainous Rear Admiral Crayshaw sounds remarkably
like Baron Silas Greenback from Danger Mouse. Unfortunately,
his attempts at black characters are less successful, being
slightly comical, which is a particular shame because Feast
has three major black characters: Mickey Smith, Roses
friend Keisha and Keishas brother Jay. On the other
hand, his imitation of Jackie Tyler is uncanny.
The Stone Rose, Tennant and author Jacqueline Rayner
successfully convey the fact that the Tenth Doctor is more
a man of action than his predecessor. Here he battles with
gladiators and ferocious animals in a Roman arena. Unfortunately,
there isnt much of an opportunity to explore the new
Doctors relationship with his companion, because first
Rose and then the Time Lord disappear for long sections of
narrative is reliant on circular logic and a few mind-boggling
time paradoxes, while the presence of the reptilian GENIE,
reminiscent of E Nesbits Psammead, means that the end
result is somewhat on the silly side. However, in condensing
her story for this two-and-a-half-hour audio presentation,
the author has tightened up what had been a rather run-around
(or perhaps that should be Rome-around) plot.
is an enjoyable reading of an enjoyable book. If only Christopher
Eccleston could have been persuaded to do the same for Rayners
Coincidentally, both The Stone Rose and The Feast
of the Drowned, by Stephen Cole, are Earth-based tales
featuring Mickey Smith and Jackie Tyler. These characters
dont usually appear in consecutive stories, so there
is a danger that the series could be perceived as lacking
variety. In both books, the Doctor and Rose have already arrived
on the scene as the narrative commences. However, whereas
the TARDIS crew spend relatively little time in present-day
London during The Stone Rose, here the capital city
is the primary location. It is possible, therefore, that the
Doctor and Rose immediately returned to the present day following
their trip to ancient Rome, perhaps to check up on the statue
and to ensure that history has not been adversely affected.
and - in particular - Mickey play larger roles in The Feast
than they do in The Stone Rose. In fact, Mickey seems
well on his way to becoming a full-blown companion, as he
eventually would do in the television series. Did Cole and
Rayner know that Mickey was going to end up staying behind
in a parallel universe? Is that why they make maximum use
of the character in these two books?
major character is Keisha, who is introduced here as part
of a once close-knit gang comprising Rose, Keisha and Shareen.
Roses best mate Shareen has been mentioned several times
on the television show, but presumably Cole chose to invent
a new friend (or the BBC insisted) rather than use Shareen,
in case the character should ever appear in a subsequent episode
that might contradict this story.
the higher than usual word count of Coles original novel,
there are few noticeable omissions from this abridged reading.
Rayner, who condensed all the stories in this collection,
is seemingly more ruthless in editing her own book than she
is with the others. Here the only notable excision is the
revelation about Mickey and Keishas affair.
audio version of The Feast of the Drowned remains substantial
fodder for Who fans of all ages. Feast your ears.
Following two Earth-based stories, The Resurrection Casket,
written by Justin Richards, takes us deep into space and far
into the future - though the technology on Starfall seems
more like that of an age gone by. This is because it lies
in the midst of a zone of electromagnetic gravitation, which
means that nothing electrical will function. There are machines,
including spaceships, robots and even a cyborg barmaid, but
they are all steam-powered.
this narrative is not true steampunk (a genre that Who
has tackled before in BBC Books Imperial Moon
and Big Finishs A
Storm of Angels),
the effect is much the same. And a most enjoyable effect it
is, too - though the concept of robots being forced to rely
on low-tech power sources, including human flesh, coincides
with similar developments in the television episode The
Girl in the Fireplace.
with the same authors The
Clockwise Man, one of his main characters is
a young boy, in this case a wannabe space explorer called
Jimm. The major twist surrounding this character isnt
hard to guess, but other revelations will hopefully surprise
listeners who havent read the original book.
plot is an homage to Treasure Island, though the notion
of pirates (both space-bound and Earth-bound) and the search
for their hidden treasure will also evoke nostalgic memories
of old Who serials such as The
Space Pirates and The
Pirate Planet. Tying in with the Smugglers
angle and the overall tone of the narrative, Tennant gives
several of his characters Cornish accents.
Resurrection Casket is easily Richardss most agreeable
book based on the new version of Who to date. Its
a veritable treasure trove.
The remaining three stories are read by other performers.
The Nightmare of Black Island is narrated by Anthony
Head, while Don Warrington reads The Art of Destruction
and Shaun Dingwall brings The Price of Paradise
to life. These are all actors with good Who pedigrees.
Head (better known as Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
now has three Who roles to his name: a bit part in
Comes to Time and the main villains in both
Reunion and The Infinite Quest (though
the latter part came about after these audio books had been
recorded). Even before his appearance as the British President
on the alternate Earth in Rise
of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel, Warrington
(alias Philip in Rising Damp) had already chalked up
several appearances as a decidedly sinister Rassilon in Big
Finishs Eighth Doctor audio dramas. Dingwall made an
indelible mark as Roses father Peter Alan Tyler and
his parallel-universe counterpart in no fewer than four episodes
of Series 1 and 2.
difference with these three stories is that I havent
read the print versions of them, so Im not in a position
to compare the audio books with their prose originals.
to worry, though - the audio version of The Nightmare of
Black Island comes across very well in its own right.
The suave and silky tones of Anthony Head work well with author
Mike Tuckers spooky tale of an ancient evil and the
bad dreams of young children. Kicking off with a thrilling
encounter between an ill-fated fisherman and a hideous monster,
Tucker (the author and co-author of several Seventh Doctor
novels and audio adventures, turning his attention to another
incarnation for the first time) provides scary chases through
dark woods, hidden passages and an eerie disused lighthouse.
lighthouse element naturally brings to mind the Tom Baker
of Fang Rock, though in fact the lighthouse
and Black Island itself play surprisingly minor roles in the
narrative as a whole. Other influences upon the text appear
to be The Island of Doctor Moreau and Forbidden
Planet, though of course Who has a long
history of paying homage to literary and screen greats.
is a sense that, in describing his various misshapen monsters,
the author is attempting to tell a story that even an effects
wizard such as himself could never hope to realise on a television
budget. Nevertheless, listening to this audio book does feel
very much like experiencing a Tenth Doctor episode of the
television show. As though to emphasise this feeling, the
Welsh setting is of course a location that the Cardiff-based
production team might have chosen, for obvious logistical
in all, Tuckers Nightmare goes like a dream.
Perhaps in an effort to compensate for the relatively adult
tone of his Feast of the Drowned (which has, for instance,
Vida giving another character a two-fingered salute and lurid
descriptions of bloated, reanimated victims of drowning),
Stephen Coles next book, The Art of Destruction,
is a decidedly silly affair.
the futuristic African setting makes a nice change, and theres
a serious message about agricultural exploitation in Third
World countries, older readers might find the plot rather
too tongue-in-cheek. The human characters are dull and samey
compared with the bizarre array of alien creatures that Cole
trots out for the Doctor and Rose to face, including the avian
Valnaxi, the unfortunately phallic Wurms, and the cactus-eyelashed,
many-tongued art thief Jazamillian Faltato, who wouldnt
have been out of place in an episode of Lost in Space.
good narrator might have brought this romp to life, but unfortunately
Don Warrington, talented though he is as an actor, is not
a good narrator. His monotonous tones bring little distinction
to the various characters, with the exception of Faltato,
who sounds like Warrington being strangled. And any narrator
would struggle to pronounce the term data-get
without it sounding like an insult directed at the android
Trek: The Next Generation!
Art of Destruction may drive you to distraction, but not
in a good way.
When BBC Books initially launched its range of novels based
on the new series, only the most established and high-ranking
Who authors were permitted to play: specifically, Justin
Richards, Stephen Cole and Jacqueline Rayner, all of whom
have executive editor or producer roles on their CVs. Gradually,
other writers - Gareth Roberts, Steve Lyons, Mike Tucker -
were allowed to join in. Prior to the publication of The
Price of Paradise, Colin Brake had only written the (disappointing)
Eighth Doctor novel Escape
Velocity and the Past Doctor Adventure The
Colony of Lies (though he was briefly considered
as Eric Sawards replacement as script editor on the
television show during the late 80s). Nevertheless,
he makes a worthy contribution to the range with this Tenth
the premise of a planet attacking alien intruders like a living
organism combating infection may be familiar to older readers
(see, for example, the Blakes 7 episode Trial
and Marvel Comics Ego the Living Planet), the story
is well told. The characters are made all the more appealing
and interesting thanks to a sympathetic reading by Shaun Dingwall.
of the tales is accompanied by a discussion with its respective
author. For the first three books, the writers are interviewed
by David Darlington of Doctor Who Magazine. For the
final three tales, the authors discuss their work with the
performers who read them. This makes for interesting listening,
as the writers exclaim satisfaction and/or surprise at how
the narrators have chosen to vocalise their characters.
an RRP of £50 for the entire box set, The Price of
Paradise - and indeed the other five stories in this collection
- is quite affordable.