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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who and the Cybermen


Author: Gerry Davis
Read by: Anneke Wills
BBC Audio
RRP: £17.61
ISBN: 978 1 4084 0991 6
Available 12 March 2009

One by one, their limbs became diseased - they were replaced by plastic and steel! Little by little, their brains tired - computers worked just as well! With metal limbs, they had the strength of ten men. They could live in the airless vacuum of space. They had no heart, no feelings, no emotions, and only one goal - power! In the year 2070, a small blue planet caught their attention. They would land on its satellite and, from there, attack, ransack, destroy and finally abandon it. The satellite was the Moon. The helpless planet - Earth. Their name? The Cybermen! Can the Doctor defeat an enemy whose threat is almost as great as that of the mighty Daleks...?

So reads the sensationalist synopsis of Doctor Who and the Cybermen, the first novelisation to feature the silver giants, originally published in 1975 and faithfully reproduced on the back of this unabridged talking book - which has replaced its old pages with plastic and sound! CDs work just as well!

However, for reasons best known to Target Books, the first Cybermen story selected for novelisation was not their first television appearance, The Tenth Planet, but rather its follow-up, The Moonbase. This led to some confusion among readers as to the creatures’ origins. In the prologue, author Gerry Davis states that the Cybermen originated on Telos rather than Earth’s twin planet Mondas, even though the events of The Tenth Planet are referred to several times by various characters. When Davis’s novelisation of The Tenth Planet appeared a year later, its prologue stated that the Cybermen arose on Telos and settled on Mondas afterwards, a reversal of the situation in the television universe.

Davis also gives the Cyberleaders names, which they didn’t have in The Moonbase, and updates the origins of the companions Ben and Polly, so that now they come from the 1970s rather than 1966. Patrick Troughton’s diminutive Doctor also appears to undergo a Pertwee-era makeover, being described as having “long legs” and wearing a cravat rather than a bow tie. In other respects, though, the novelisation remains true to the television serial, while improving upon its atmosphere (no pun intended) and budgetary limitations.

Adding to the mood is the sensitive reading by actress Anneke Wills, who originally played Polly. She manages to carry off a variety of accents, as spoken by the moonbase’s international crew, not to the mention the Scotsman Jamie and the Cockney Ben.

Taking a leaf out of Big Finish’s Companion Chronicles audio books, BBC Audio has employed a secondary voice artist - none other than Nicholas Briggs as the Cybermen. However, the Cyber-voices heard here have more in common with those of the new television series than the buzzing Moonbase versions.

If you want over four hours of vintage Cyber-entertainment, then make these four CDs your one goal. Their name? Doctor Who and the Cybermen!


Richard McGinlay

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