BBC Audio, out now
The Seventh Doctor’s epic battle with the Daleks…
I can still remember clearly watching the first episode of Ben Aaronovitch’s 1988 serial and thinking to myself that after a dodgy first season for the Seventh Doctor, the show was back on form. The encounter in Totters Lane, and the cliffhanger as we finally saw a Dalek elevating up the stairs were just the start of an epic adventure that I’ve probably rewatched more times than any other 1980s serial. Aaronovitch’s novelisation was the icing on the cake: we didn’t realise at the time just how influential it was going to be with its flashbacks to a past Gallifrey and a character simply called the Other. It was something rather more than the often bland novelisations that were coming out – in fact, it felt like the novel from which the TV serial had been drawn. Those who’ve enjoyed the Counter-Measures series from Big Finish will be intrigued by some of the backstory that Aaronovitch provides for the characters who go on to that spin-off…
Now we have this fantastic rendering of the novel from Terry Molloy. Bearing in mind how well I know the soundtrack, and the particular emphases that the actors at the time gave to the dialogue (“Humans!” “grubby little protuberances”) I was expecting to spot differences more easily than I would on many such readings – but Molloy captures the vast majority of them as they were back in 1988… and adds similar phrasings to the dialogue that Aaronovitch added to the novel. Everyone from Sylvester McCoy to George Sewell and Simon Williams is recognisable – and of course, his rendition of a certain Dalek creator is spot-on. Simon Power’s soundscape is wonderfully encompassing, with music that fits this version really well. Nick Briggs, as ever, provides plenty of different Daleks as required.
According to DWM, this is one of the first of the new batch of audios recorded in the post-AudioGo era – and it’s set the bar extremely high!
Verdict: An expansion of a terrific story, brought to life brilliantly. 10/10