The Leisure Hive comes from that period of Doctor Who (Creature from the Pit through to Meglos) that I never watched when it was on, and despite the release of the stories on VHS and later DVD, still know better through the novelisations than the original TV versions. Therefore although to many David Fisher’s novel took many liberties with the broadcast version – and has its own peculiar pacing, whereby the Doctor and Romana are hardly around in the first third – this is the way I know the story.
Lalla Ward reads Fisher’s novel with gusto, assisted by a few brief lines from John Leeson as K9. She makes all the participants clearly distinguishable, and gets a quaver into the Doctor’s voice after the tachyon generator has done its work.
Like all Fisher’s adaptations, including the two new ones he wrote for AudioGO, this isn’t a simple “he said, she said” reworking of the script: he goes to great lengths to fill in the backstory of the participants, and, for once, reins in his tendency to try to rival Douglas Adams with explanatory footnotes. The links between the Foamasi and the Mafiosa are clearer in the book, and there’s a blink and you’ll miss it reference to Fisher’s original concepts for The Gamble with Time, which became City of Death.
It’s the sort of story that could easily be reworked for the new series format, and indeed the idea of an aged Doctor still trying to battle was reworked for the end of the third series. The audiobook is short enough (only three discs) that the story doesn’t outstay its welcome, and makes a good addition to the range.
Verdict: A interesting contrast to its lavish TV original, this is closer to Fisher’s concepts, and is brought to life well. 7/10