Doctor Who
The Abominable Snowmen


Starring: Patrick Troughton
BBC Radio Collection
ISBN 0 563 47856 X
Available now

The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria arrive in the snowy Himalayas in the 1930s, where they find that a Tibetan monastery has recently been attacked - apparently by yeti...

Although its sequel The Web of Fear has already been released by the BBC Radio Collection, this story marked the Doctor's first encounter with the Yeti.

It is interesting to note that while offering a scientific explanation for the legendary hairy beasties - as robotic instruments of the disembodied Great Intelligence - writers Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln offset this by maintaining that real yeti also exist within the fictional universe of Doctor Who. The monks in the story speak of the yeti's usually timid nature, and explorer Edward Travers (Jack Watling - the father of series regular Deborah) actually gets to see one at the end of the tale. It's almost like The X-Files with one if its "so it is spooky after all" kind of endings!

The first two episodes of this six-part story romp along very nicely, and Frazer Hines's voice-over sounds particularly sprightly as he has to gabble rapidly to fit his narration into the small gaps between dialogue and action. Once into episode three, however, the pace slows down considerably. Much of the dialogue is mere padding as characters wonder who could be in league with the Yeti, even though the writers have already blown the identity of the Great Intelligence's agent by this time. It's a pity that Haisman and Lincoln didn't maintain the mystery for longer, which is what they ultimately succeeded in doing in The Web of Fear.

Certain aspects of the production work better in this audio version than they did on TV, however. For one thing, we cannot see how cuddly the supposedly terrifying Yeti were on screen (unless you watch the second episode on the Troughton Years video). Nor do we see the complete lack of snow on the location footage, which was filmed in Snowdonia in Wales during a warm August.

This release represents good value for money compared to The Web of Fear, as it just fits on to two CDs. Yes, the plot drags a bit, but it's far from being completely abominable.

Richard McGinlay