Review: Doctor Who: AudioGo Classic Novels: The Twin Dilemma

By Eric Saward, read by Colin Baker

AudioGo, out now

An unstable Doctor inadvertently becomes embroiled in a kidnap plan…

There are very few people who will stand up and defend Colin Baker’s first television story as a prime example of classic Doctor Who. Not helped by coming immediately after the highly-regarded The Caves of Androzani, it was overlit, garish, featured some appalling acting (and not just from the two boys cast as the twins), and alienated a lot of people from Baker’s Doctor before he had a real chance to show what he could do.

The novel of The Twin Dilemma, on the other hand, shows what the story could have been – but even then, it’s based around the central flaw that starting a Doctor off unlikeably is a good idea. Written by script editor Eric Saward, who clearly felt that some emulation of Douglas Adams was required, it wanders off on tangents from the main plot at a moment’s notice, with some sardonic historical detail provided on the most unlikely of items.

This suits Colin Baker’s narrative style. Quite a lot of Anthony Steven’s (not brilliant) dialogue from the original story is presented as reported speech, so Baker’s narration carries the day, and he drops straight back into the relevant mode of the Doctor where necessary. His voices for the twins and Peri are a little amusing at first, but work within the context, and while I may be imagining it, there does seem to be a hint of Maurice Denham’s performance in Baker’s rendition of Azmael, the role Denham took in the show.

Aided by Simon Power’s score and effects, and a sense of urgency at the requisite times, this is a good performance of what will never be a great Doctor Who story, but which certainly feels better in this version than on DVD…  6/10

Paul Simpson

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