Review: Doctor Who: AudioGo: Classic Novels: The Androids of Tara

by David Fisher, read by John Leeson

AudioGo, out now

In the hunt for the fourth segment of the Key to Time, the Doctor and Romana land on the apparently feudal planet of Tara – but become embroiled in local politics.

A sadly appropriate release, following the death this week of Mary Tamm, who played the original Romana featured in this story, The Androids of Tara has had a makeover for this AudioGo version, in the same way that its immediate predecessor, The Stones of Blood, did last year. Not overly happy with the fact that Terrance Dicks was allowed to novelise his story, David Fisher has taken the opportunity to tell it his way, and as with his update of Stones, this means a lot of Douglas Adams-y travel guide and history notes, many of which are meant to be funny. Not all of them are, by any means.

John Leeson is the narrator this time around, which means that the K9 voices remain accurate. He adopts various tones for the other characters – there’s more than a hint of Peter Jeffrey’s performance in his Count Grendel, while Prince/King Reinhart is obviously a close relative of Edward VIII. Simon Power’s musical score and soundscape add to the proceedings – the horses are particularly noticeable.

However a few things let this release down. There’s an annoying buzz in all the scenes in Madam Lamia’s laboratory, and quite often it seems as if the recording level on Leeson’s Grendel has been set too high, so it’s slightly distorting. There’s also some careless script editing: the Key to Time quite often becomes the Key of Time (to the extent that the newcomer to the story listening to it with me asked which was correct!), and using the name Zagreus in a Doctor Who context is a bit dubious, given how central a character by that odd name became in the Big Finish line.

Verdict: Certainly with more meat on the bones than a reading of Terrance Dicks’ version would have been, the little things let this down.  6/10

Paul Simpson

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