Review: Doctor Who: AudioGO Classic Novels: The Talons of Weng-Chiang

talons-2Theatrical impresario Henry Gordon Jago’s first meeting with the talented professor of pathology, George Litefoot. Oh, and the Doctor and Leela are involved too…

When Jago & Litefoot took off as a Big Finish spin-off series, I suggested to the Powers That Be there that a nice idea might be to do a special retelling The Talons of Weng-Chiang from the perspective of the two infernal investigators. That would serve to explain to audio audiences not familiar with the 1977 story what had happened and perhaps add some new twists to Holmes’ tale. The idea didn’t come to anything (that I’m aware of anyway!) but for those who would like a good reminder then this audiobook reading of Terrance Dicks’ novelisation will fit the bill.

Jago & Litefoot: The First Adventure is read by HGJ himself, Christopher Benjamin, who brings some appropriate tones for the lead characters: his version of Greel echoes Michael Spice’s frustrated anger perfectly, and his Fourth Doctor snaps in just the right way.

Talons_of_weng_chiangThere seems to be far more audio background to this story than on some releases, and it works in its favour. Benjamin paces the narration well, and the music and sound effects don’t feel as if they’ve been randomly added (as does sometimes happen). It’s a shame that AudioGO’s 007 readings weren’t given this treatment, as it does add a great deal to what can sometimes be a little dry.

The book comes from a great period of work by Dicks, with background filled in and minor plotholes sorted out. As ever, there are a few minor discrepancies with the finished version – Dicks was working from scripts and possibly audio, but not video in those days – but I had forgotten just how evocative some of the passages are.

Verdict: A gorgeously gargantuan feast of sagacity, scorpion venom and Sherlockian deduction. 8/10

Paul Simpson

Click here to order Doctor Who and the Talons of Weng-Chiang (Classic Novels) from Amazon.co.uk

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