Genesis of the Daleks (BBC Audiobook)Bookmark and Share

Friday, 9 March 2018 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Doctor Who and The Genesis of The Daleks (Credit: BBC Audio)Written by Terrance Dicks
Read By Jon Culshaw
With Dalek Voices by Nicholas Briggs

Released by BBC Worldwide - October 2017
Available from Amazon UK
Genesis of the Daleks is one of the strongest serials in all of Doctor Who. Not just of the classic series, but to this day you can still see ripples from it.  Davros made another modern reappearance fairly recently in the Series 9 opening two-parter. His story, and one can even argue that one of the earliest seeds of the Time War that served as the series main background when it relaunched in 2005, began in that wonderful story.  It has a ton of memorable moments, from the introduction of Davros, the great scene between the Doctor and Davros discussing philosophical questions, the Doctor's moral dilemma about whether or not to destroy the Daleks...up to the big finale with the Daleks taking over and turning on their own creator.  It's a great story, that never feels too padded despite it's six episode lengths.  Such an iconic story could, in theory, be lessened by it's adaptation in another form of media.  But the book only enhances the story, adds a bit more behind what the characters are thinking and motivations, and this audiobook of that book is equally excellent.  
Read by Impressionist/Comedian/Voice Actor Jon Culshaw, and enhanced by some sound effects, music, and even Daleks voiced by Nicholas Briggs...there are moments that make you forget you are even listening to an audiobook.  Culshaw's top notch impression of Tom Baker's tones is so perfect that it is beyond parody. There were genuine times I could have sworn I was just hearing Baker himself in the recording.  And since Culshaw also uses the same voice modulation device that Briggs uses for the Daleks to voice Davros...the conversations between The Doctor and Davros leave you completely caught up in the story. 
Audiobooks are, for me, the most entertaining when the narrator can do a wide range of voices and keep the listening interesting.  Culshaw is then the perfect narrator for me, as he can do so many different voices, and his Fourth Doctor is pitch perfect.  Having Briggs' Dalek voices mixed in as well keeps this one of the most entertaining of these audiobooks that I have listened to thus far.  
It also made me think.  I remember watching a classic story of the series, and someone who really enjoyed the modern show watched a bit with me out of curiosity.  They struggled with the old effects and cheap look. But the audiobooks can take an interesting story, and remove that element. The lesser visuals are no longer part of the equation, only the story.  I actually tried to forget what I know of the classic story, and try and picture it with more modern visuals. This story holds up, and I think if old fans who can't quite get past the old show's visual cheapness, but want a taste of these great old stories, these could be an interesting way to jump in.  
This is a classic story, one of the all time greats, and it is wonderfully brought to life by Terrance Dicks adaptation and Culshaw, with the help of Briggs, make the listening a true joy.  

Doctor Who: The Day She Saved the Doctor - Audio BookBookmark and Share

Sunday, 18 February 2018 - Reviewed by Matt Tiley
The Day She Saved The Doctor (audiobook) (Credit: Puffin)
Stories by Jacqueline Rayner, Jenny T Colgan,
Susan Calman and Dorothy Koomson
Read by Yasmin Page, Rachae Stirling,
Catrin Stewart and Pippa Bennett-Warner

Published by Puffin on 8th March 2018
Purchase the Book or Audiobook from Amazon

The Day She Saved The Doctor (Credit: Puffin)

This interesting take on Doctor Who includes four stories that are told from the point of view of the Doctor's companion, who in each of these cases are female. The collection is published quite handily on March 8th, which is International Woman's Day. Each story is written by a high profile, female author and read by an actress with ties to Doctor Who.


Story One - Sarah Jane and the Temple of Eyes
Written by Jacqueline Rayner. Read by Yasmin Paige.
"It's a snake. Great" - Sarah Jane Smith.
In this, the opening story of the four we find the fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith somewhere near Rome, at the height of the Roman Empire. While perusing a market they come across a woman who has quite literally just been struck blind. With the help of Sarah's finely honed investigative reporting skills, they discover that this isn't the first time this mystery blindness has struck, and rather mysteriously, the blindness only afflicts women.
As their investigation proceeds, it's not before long the Doctor is tied up and about to be slaughtered by a female cult - can Sarah Jane Smith save the day?
Jacqueline Raynor has a list of previous credits with Doctor Who that is VERY impressive, from
original novels, through to comics and Big Finish. This is probably why this story was my most anticipated of the set, especially as it featured my companion, Miss Sarah Jane Smith and my Doctor. Because of this, to say I was disappointed is sadly an understatement. 
The story is placed somewhere between The Brain of Morbius and The Hand of Fear, which doesn't leave a lot of space for it to fit in. Raynor's story deals with blindness and a female cult - which means there are a lot of similarities between this story, and The Brain of Morbius. Too many if I am honest, it all felt too familiar. I also struggled with Raynor's characterisations of my favourite TARDIS pairing. For me it didn't feel quite right.
Sarah Jane and the Temple of Eyes is read by Yasmin Paige, who played Maria Jackson in The Sarah Jane Adventures.  Unfortunately I found her narration very bland - which didn't help the weak story at all.
Story Two - Rose and the Snow Window 
Written by Jenny T Colgan. Read by Rachael Stirling.
"Ohhh! I will NEVER get tired of the TARDIS translation circuit." - Rose Tyler
The second story opens with the tenth Doctor and Rose playing cat and mouse with the International Space Station. They are looking for a time leak, and quickly find it in Toronto. Once they arrive in the Canadian city, they quickly find a tall building from where they have a better vantage point. The time leak is (rather handily) in the building opposite, where they can see a room that looks out of place from those surrounding it. This room looks bigger than it should be, and there is a roaring fireplace. The room is indeed out of place - by a couple of centuries. It belongs to a Russian aristocrat, Nikolai, and it's up to Rose to get into a corset, pop on a posh frock and enter the quantumly displaced room to find out exactly what is going on.
Jenny T Colgan (or J T Colgan, and also sometimes Jane Beaton) has written for Who before, and is also known for her romantic fiction. Which actually comes into play quite well here as there is definitely a spark between Rose and the enigmatic Russian aristocrat.
Colgan has great fun with the 'person out of time' concept, as we witness the pure joy and wonder Nikolai experiencing a 21st century warm shower for the first time. This also works the other way with the amusing imagery of a group of rather confused 21st century Canadian Mounties trapped in a snowy 19th Century Russia. Thankfully Colgan's characterisations of the tenth Doctor and Rose are absolutely spot on. The story is very fast paced, dashing between different time-zones faster than anyone could say 'time-anomaly'.
Rachael Stirling, who played Ada Gillyflower in The Crimson Horror, does a great job at reading Colgan's work, and throws herself eagerly into making a good impersonation of both Rose and the Doctor.
After the rather bland Sarah Jane and the Temple of Eyes, my faith in this new set of tales was well and truly restored.
Story Three - Clara and the Maze of Cui Palta
Written by Susan Calman. Read by Catrin Stewart
"Doctor, don't you think there is something strange about this place?" - Clara Oswald
Bored with her housekeeping duties Clara begs the eleventh Doctor to whisk her away to somewhere exciting, so he takes her to Cui Palta, where they find a colossal maze. As always, finding his curiosity hard to resist the Doctor leads them both into a maze, a maze that they discover seemingly has no solution. The pair are soon hopelessly lost and surrounded by the bones of those who previously wandered the maze's ever changing paths. The situation looks desperate indeed. 
Comedian, author, presenter, Doctor Who fan and sometime Strictly contestant Susan Calman's entry is a wonderfully breezy story that captures the pairing of the eleventh Doctor and Clara perfectly. If I had one complaint (and it is a small one), it would be that Clara sometimes falls into being the 'default' companion by saying things like "Look Doctor" a few too many times. Otherwise Clara and the Maze of Cui Palta is a lovely romp, lovingly written by a fan of the show.
This entry is read by Catrin Stewart, the Paternoster Gang's very own Jenny Flint, Catrin reads in a lovely bright and breezy way that perfectly suits this story.
Story Four - Bill and the Three Jackets
Written by Dorothy Koomson. Read by Pippa Bennett-Warner
“Time and Relative Dimensions in Space means....Life!" - Bill Potts
Bill has a hot date that she is VERY excited about. She wants to get herself a smart, new jacket for the occasion, and quickly finds a shop on the outskirts of Bristol centre that seems absolutely perfect. Inside, she finds a very helpful sales assistant named Ziggy. Bill picks three coats, but would love to see how they suit her, so Ziggy breaks the shop's strict 'no selfie' rule (they don’t want their designs stolen), and takes some polaroid pictures of Bill in the three different coats. Bill decides to go and get a coffee so she can ponder over which coat to buy, but strange things begin to happen. No one she knows now recognises her as Bill, plus there is an imposter in the TARDIS with her face. Can she convince the Doctor that she is the real Bill before she loses all of her own memories?
Dorothy Koomson is a contemporary author, originally from Ghana who has a dozen published novels to her name. Her entry into the Whoniverse is fast paced, claustrophobic, confident and sometimes quite frightening. It's a story of loss of identity and the fear of never getting it back. Bill and the Three Jackets has a lovely continuity with the series, especially proven when Bill employs the help of Lou - the 'chip girl' from the episode The Pilot. I enjoyed it immensely, enough for me to want to read more of Koomson's work. 
The story is very enthusiastically read by Pippa Bennett-Warner, her Who credit being that she starred as Saibra in season eight's Time Heist. Her impersonation of Bill is spot on. So much so that I had to check that it wasn't actually Pearl Mackie on reading duties.


Overall I felt that The Day She Saved the Doctor contained three very good original stories. It's odd for me that the story that I was looking forward to the most was the weakest, and the one I was least anticipating (Bill and the Three Coats) was my overall favourite.
The Day She Saved The Doctor is a highly recommended listen/ read. I have to be honest though, I'm not entirely sure that it is unique in the way it approaches it's story telling, as a lot stories featuring the Doctor are told from the companion's point of view.

This new entry into Who cannon though, is far more unique in introducing real female talent to a very male dominated world. There are around 500 'official' novels and novelisations that feature the Doctor. After a quick glance over the this very long list I found 30 by, or with input from female writers. Thats 6% - which is a truly shocking statistic.

Tenth Doctor Novels (BBC Audio)Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 7 January 2018 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Tenth Doctor Novels (Credit: BBC Audio)

Sting of the Zygons
Written By Stephen Cole,
Read By Reggie Yates

The Last Dodo
Written By Jacqueline Rayner, Read By Freema Agyeman

Wooden Heart
Written By Martin Day,
Read By Adjoah Andoh

Forever Autumn
Written By Mark Morris, Read By Will Thorp

Written By Mark Michalowski, Read By Freema Agyeman

Sick Building
Written By Paul Magrs, Read By Will Thorp

The Pirate Loop
By Simon Guerrier,
​Read By Freema Agyeman

Written By James Swallow, Read By Will Thorp

Released by BBC Worldwide Auguest 2017
Available from Amazon UK

BBC Worldwide have released this collection of Eight Abridged Audiobooks from the Tenth Doctor's line of Novels, all of which feature Martha Jones as the Companion. The stories themselves range from mediocre to just plain decent.  Nothing in the collection really jumped out at me.  The readings all all decent, particularly those read by Freema Agyeman and Will Thorp.  Adjoah Andoh did a decent job as well, but Reggie Yates lacked something in his reading...while others found a way to capture the Tenth Doctor's voice in some way (Agyeman being the best in my opinion), Yates just never found a tone that worked for me.  His approach seemed to just be talk faster, but he missed key elements of this Doctor's delivery that took me out of the story, and just thinking "oh but the Doctor would've said it like THAT," which made it much harder to get into the story. 

It didn't help Yates that he was saddled with one of the least interesting stories of the bunch. In Sting of the Zygons, The Doctor and Martha battle Zygons in the early 20th Century...imagine Zygons on Downton Abbey, only somehow that isn't fun.  The second story of the bunch is The Last Dodo, read by Agyeman, which was a definite improvement in terms of story and reading.  The Wooden Heart is another decent story, but again nothing too stellar is found within this collection.  I did enjoy the Halloween themes and monster in Forever Autmn as well as the adventure with the sentient otters that is WetworldSick Building had some decent ideas, but the story is decidedly average. Peacemaker is another average adventure, this time with the backdrop of the old west, though I do think it got better as it went along.  This particular audiobook does show off some of the vocal range of Will Thorp, who does a lot of different Amercian accents. 

The one story that really jumped out at me was The Pirate Loop. Read by Agyeman, it has neat time travel mechanics, intriguing mysteries, unique storytelling devices, and Space Pirates who look like humanoid badgers.  What's not to love in all that?  Of all the stories, it seems the most memorable,  the only one I will probably continue to think of from time to time. 

Ultimately, this wasn't that impressive a set of stories.  There was nothing that was too bad, but everything was just middle of the road. A little bland. As someone who had not read any of the BBC original novels, these abridged audiobooks were sort of like a sampling of them...and it left me uninterested in reading more.  Because of the ongoing series, there is (or at the very least was) probably a lot of rules for what they could and couldn't do in the novels.  As such I think you end up with a fairly bland output of stories, things that certainly work as Doctor Who, but because of restrictions from the show itself take some of the edge out.  It could be that sme of the spark gets lost in the abridged nature of the audiobooks, or it could be the readings themselves weren't to my liking. For the most part, anything read by Thorp and (especially) Agyeman were more entertaining to listen to, but I can't say this was the most entertaining set of audiobooks. For collectors only, I would suggest just checking out either the audiobook of the prose version of The Pirate Loop, instead of going for the whole boxset.