Benny, Jason, Peter and Sophia find themselves on the run
from a time-travelling party of fact-obsessed Grel, who wish
to capture Peter for study. The escapees face a frightening
festival, sinister sands and a ridiculously inaccurate robot
double, in what can only be described as a sort of chase...
the intense Life During Wartime and the action-packed
Death and the Daleks, the Bernice Summerfield range
is in need of a little light relief. Writer Jacqueline Rayner,
whose previous contribution to Benny's adventures was the
harrowing novel The Glass Prison evidently decided
that she could use some of the same. The result is the whimsical
caper that is The Grel Escape.
However, the Dalek presence can still be felt, albeit indirectly,
due to the fact that this story is a pastiche of the extremely
silly William Hartnell Doctor Who serial, The Chase.
Though you don't need to have seen that particular story in
order to follow this one, fans who have done so will recognise
and appreciate numerous aspects of the plot structure, including
a haunted funfair, a Grel rising from the sand, an unconvincing
robot "duplicate" of the main character, and even an equivalent
of the space-time visualiser sequences. You will probably
either like or loathe Rayner's decision to lampoon an already
laughable story to such an extent. I like it a lot!
villains of the piece are those comedy fact-collectors, the
Grel (all voiced by Daniel Hogarth). These creatures have
always worked better on audio than they ever did on the printed
page. A friendlier Grel, Peter's godmother Sophia, who was
introduced in The Glass Prison, makes her audio debut
here, played to good effect by Julia Houghton.
It's not all fun and games, however. Unlike other writers,
Rayner, who after all was responsible for the two novels in
which Peter was respectively conceived and born, does not
allow Benny to abandon her childcare responsibilities to bugger
off and have an adventure. Furthermore, in attempting to demonstrate
to Peter the fun aspects of a 20th-century childhood, Jason
Kane (Stephen Fewell) touches upon the unpleasant sides of
his own upbringing. There are also some sinister hints at
what might lie ahead in Peter's future...
fact: despite its derivative nature, The Grel Escape
is well worth listening to.
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