Captain Mike Yates has always been one of those not-quite companions. He never travelled in the TARDIS on screen, and his appearance in the AudioGo Fourth Doctor adventures came about because of Nick Courtney’s illness. The character has therefore lent itself open to multiple interpretations – from the palare-speaking version of the Virgin New Adventures to the dashing hero that Richard Franklin provided in his novel/audio The Killing Stone.
Setting this story very early in Mike’s UNIT career (it’s at a time after Liz Shaw’s departure from UNIT, but before Jo Grant arrives) allows Richard Dinnick a chance to show the more vulnerable Yates, lacking in self-confidence and self-belief. Somehow it doesn’t surprise you that the man we meet here will eventually fall under the spell of Operation Golden Age.
Franklin’s performance recreates Mike well – contrary to the suggestion in the CD extras, he’s played the part a lot in recent years and there’s not the hesitancy that some actors demonstrate when returning to their roles – and he uses broad strokes to indicate the other regulars. Jon Pertwee’s Doctor lithpth a lot; the Brigadier is in his “five round rapid” mode for most of his speech; while Sergeant Benton rivals Dave Prowse for a West Country accent. It makes them easily recognisable, even if occasionally it’s a little over the top. Felicity Duncan has multiple roles and although the conceit behind them is not particularly new (in fact, we’ve had it in Companion Chronicles in moderately recent times), she makes it work. Ken Bentley’s soundscape is a joy, adding some drama that is occasionally lacking from the narration.
Verdict: A solid example of how the Companion Chronicles can give a different perspective on an adventure. 6/10