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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Lost Flame


Authors: George Mann and Cavan Scott
Read by: Clare Higgins
Publisher: BBC Audio
RRP: £10.99 (CD), £5.00 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78529 697 0
Release Date: 06 July 2017

The TARDIS make a bumpy landing on Karn, home of the legendary Sisterhood. There the Doctor encounters his old acquaintance Ohila, who denies all suggestions of involvement in recent unusual activities on Earth. The Doctor, Alex and Brandon move on to the planet Escalupia, a medical hub for Earth’s First Great and Bountiful Human Empire. There they find squalid living conditions and sinister, hovering drones preying upon the populace. Why does everyone fear doctors, and who is the Angel they seem desperate to see? The mysterious Angel is someone the Doctor and his friends have encountered before – someone well known to Ohila… The stakes are high, as the travellers and the Sisterhood fight to end an injustice and escape with their lives…

The last of four linked exclusive-to-audio adventures with the word “Lost” in the title, The Lost Flame sees the return of the Sisterhood of Karn, led by Ohila, who have appeared in several recent episodes of Doctor Who, beginning with the sensational mini-episode The Night of the Doctor.

However, most of the story takes place not on Karn but on another planet, the human colony world of Escalupia. It’s a medical centre for Earth’s Empire – though it turns out not to be the clinical haven one might expect. Writers George Mann and Cavan Scott present a nightmare vision of private healthcare, with customers forced to maintain a perpetual subscription to the Remedia Corporation for fear of otherwise falling foul of new diseases that the company is constantly developing.

Acting against these market forces is the mysterious Angel, who in a way is a kind of medical Time Meddler, interfering with the best of intentions, but with a lack of due care and attention that causes the Doctor (and the Sisterhood) grave concern.

Given the presence of Ohila, it’s good that this story is read out by Clare Higgins, the actress who played her on screen. She also provides a good range of other voices, including those of sinister, guttural medical robots, and possibly the best Peter Capaldi I have heard from an audio book reader to date (though still not quite right). There’s an awkward moment when Higgins delivers a line of the Doctor’s, “How do you find a healer?”, as he prepares to embark upon a particularly risky strategy. The Time Lord is referring to the Angel, though on audio the phrase “a healer” sounds like “Ohila”. That’s not who he’s after at all.

A more serious problem is the fact that the synopsis for this product is far too revelatory (I have removed a particularly revealing sentence from the version that appears at the top of this review), so much so that it was not until about halfway through the CD that I reached a part of the story that had not already been described to me by the blurb. That issue aside, the prognosis for The Lost Flame is a positive one.


Richard McGinlay

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