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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
Ninth Doctor Novels
Volume 1


Authors: Justin Richards, Stephen Cole and Jacqueline Rayner
Read by: Nicholas Briggs and Camille Coduri
Publisher: BBC Audio
RRP: £35.00 (CD), £16.00 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78753 593 0 (CD), 978 1 78753 594 7 (download)
Release Date: 02 May 2019

Nicholas Briggs and Camille Coduri are the readers of these three original stories featuring the Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler, as played on TV by Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper. Join the Doctor and Rose on these journeys in time and space, as they encounter faceless killers in 1920s London, get trapped in an alien prison camp, and discover something very sinister behind the latest video-game craze…

So, you may be wondering, why are box sets of Ninth Doctor audio books coming out after the Tenth Doctor ones? Well, it’s because that’s the order in which the individual releases came out. It was not until 2011 that BBC Audio (or AudioGO as it was then) went back and recorded the six novels featuring Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor, which had originally been published in 2005. The first three are brought together in this collection, and because the publisher had stopped truncating its talking books by this point, they are all unabridged, running to a total of 18 hours.

Taking their cue from the television series, as reformatted by executive producer Russell T Davies, the titles that launched the New Series Adventures range are set in distinctly different eras: past, present and future. The Clockwise Man, written by Justin Richards, takes place in Britain’s past; Jacqueline Rayner’s Winner Takes All involves an alien threat to present-day Earth; and The Monsters Inside, by Stephen Cole, is set in the far future and features lots of weird aliens. In line with Series 1, there’s even a “bad wolf” reference in each story.

With the family audience of the revived show in mind, these books are aimed at a younger market than the original novels that had gone before, featuring the first eight Doctors. The New Series Adventures aren’t just for kids, but there are none of the overt sexual references or instances of strong language that had occasionally cropped up in the New Adventures, Missing Adventures, Eighth Doctor Adventures and Past Doctor Adventures. The authors make a point of including juvenile characters in their plots, such as a tragic little boy called Freddie, who gets involved in the thick of the action in The Clockwise Man

In 1920s London, the Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler find themselves caught up in the hunt for a mysterious murderer. But not everything is what it seems. Secrets lie behind locked doors and inhuman killers roam the streets. Who is the Painted Lady and why is she so interested in the Doctor? Why is everyone so protective of a frail young boy called Freddie? How can a cat return from the dead? Can anyone be trusted to tell – or even to know – the truth? With the faceless killers closing in, the Doctor and Rose must solve the mystery of the Clockwise Man before London itself is destroyed…

No knowledge of the classic show or of any of the other novels is required in order to follow these tales. The opening book’s theme of all things clockwork has nothing to do with the clock-faced people from Anachrophobia. Nor, indeed, is there any connection with the clockwork beings that would subsequently appear in Time Works, The Girl in the Fireplace and Deep Breath.

One of Russell T Davies’s firmly held principles is that no piece of spin-off fiction should ever be perceived or promoted as being essential to the understanding of the programme upon which it is based. Unfortunately, Justin Richards seems to have taken the ‘not essential’ edict a bit too far, because I didn’t find The Clockwise Man to be as inspiring as some of his previous works. My excitement at the very fact that I was experiencing a Ninth Doctor adventure (which is still all too rare a thing) kept me going for most of the way, but my attention wandered during the second half of the story. Fortunately, things pick up towards the end, with exciting events in and around the bell tower of Big Ben – scenes in which John Buchan’s Richard Hannay would not have seemed out of place.

The Ninth Doctor and Rose are well characterised throughout the narrative, though the Time Lord’s defensive remark about having put on a different shirt is rather too similar to his comment about changing his jumper in The Unquiet Dead. We get a real sense of this incarnation’s formidable physical presence, as he kicks open a gate and shoulder charges an attacker.

The Clockwise Man is read by Nicholas Briggs, who has voiced Daleks, Cybermen, Ice Warriors and numerous other alien characters in the television series, not to mention writing, directing and producing umpteen audio releases for Big Finish Productions. His narrating voice can be decidedly macabre, as anyone who has ever heard his continuity announcements on BBC Radio 4 Extra’s The 7th Dimension will know, which adds significant gravity to the proceedings.

The Doctor’s Northern accent sometimes seems a bit off, occasionally sounding more like Wallace, but then I ’ave a keen ear for this sort o’ thing, bein’ from t’North mesen. Briggs does well to distinguish the potentially baffling number of supporting characters in Richards’s novel. In fact, you might even say that his reading goes like clockwork!



The TARDIS takes the Doctor and Rose to a destination in deep space – Justicia, a prison camp stretched across an entire solar system, where Earth colonies deal with their criminals. While Rose finds herself locked up in a teenage borstal, the Doctor is trapped in a scientific labour camp. Each is determined to find the other, and soon both Rose and the Doctor are risking life and limb to escape in their distinctive styles. But their dangerous plans are complicated by some old enemies. Are these creatures fellow prisoners as they claim, or staging a takeover for their own sinister purposes…?

There’s a double meaning to The Monsters Inside. The Inside bit refers in part to the prison setting. The title also alludes to the human-impersonating habits of the returning monsters of the piece, the Slitheen – or, to give the creatures their proper name, the Raxacoricofallapatorians. Author Stephen Cole makes good use of the species, which at the time of the book’s original print publication (May 2005) had only been seen in the two-part story Aliens of London / World War Three. He develops the idea of their family-based power structure, likening them to the Mafia – though it is something of a coincidence that the Doctor bumps into the very same family that he encountered before. Their disguises have improved significantly during the five centuries since he and Rose last met them, but they do still fart a lot.

The novel is notable for a couple of firsts, which actually beat the television series to the mark. For the first time, we encounter another family of Raxacoricofallapatorians: the Blathereen, who would later appear in The Sarah Jane Adventures story The Gift. The Monsters Inside also marks Rose’s first trip to an alien world (indeed, several alien worlds), a feat that would not be achieved on screen until The Impossible Planet in Series 2. Justicia would shortly be mentioned in Boom Town, making this the first original Doctor Who novel to be acknowledged (albeit subtly) in the parent programme. The companion comes across well. Her wonderment at stepping on to alien soil is akin to her reaction to her first trip through time at the start of The Unquiet Dead. She proves to be just as spirited and independent in this alien environment as she has been elsewhere.

The reader of this and the next book is Camille Coduri, who played Rose’s mum Jackie in several episodes. She doesn’t do as accurate a rendition of the Ninth Doctor as Nicholas Briggs is capable of, but she is naturally able to provide a more convincing Rose. She also throws herself into the task of voicing the more unusual residents of Justicia, including the prim supervisor Lazlee Flowers and some hissing, gasping Slitheen.

Each of these books begins with a prologue in the style of the revived show’s pre-titles sequences. However, BBC Audio have missed a trick by not placing the Doctor Who theme in between the prologue and the first chapter. In fact, Murray Gold’s title music, which tops and tails the other two stories, is not heard at all during The Monsters Inside – so if you have the signature tune as a separate track, you might want to drop it into your playlist at the appropriate point.

That quibble aside, this is an unchallenging but exciting planet-hopping escapade. From a food fight in a teenage borstal to a toffee-pudding-textured alien life form and lots of farting Raxacoricofallapatorians, there’s plenty locked away in here to entertain fans both old and new.



Rose and the Doctor return to present-day Earth, and become intrigued by the latest craze – the video game Death to Mantodeans. Is it as harmless as it seems? And why are so many local people going on holiday and never coming back? Meanwhile, on another world, an alien war is raging. The Quevvils need to find a new means of attacking the ruthless Mantodeans. Searching the galaxy for cunning, warlike but gullible allies, they find the ideal soldiers – on Earth. Will Rose be able to save her family and friends from the alien threat? And can the Doctor play the game to the end – and win…?

After the refreshingly far-flung adventure of The Monsters Inside, some listeners may be disappointed when the TARDIS touches down on Earth yet again in Winner Takes All. However, the franchise has the perfect in-built excuse for these repeated visits, in the form of Rose. This time, she is worried about her mum, so she asks the Doctor to take her back home. Those of you who long for the Time Lord to travel a little farther afield than a council estate should find comfort in the fact that there is also plenty of alien action on the home planet of the hedgehog-like Quevvils and the insectoid Mantodeans. Everyone’s a winner!

The presence of Jackie Tyler makes Camille Coduri the ideal choice of reader for this talking book. The actress also turns in some enjoyably squeaky-voiced Quevvils. And it turns out that the word Mantodean is pronounced Man-to-dee-an, not Man-toe-de-an as I had been assuming for all these years.

Meanwhile, author Jacqueline Rayner makes the most of her opportunity to depict Rose’s ex-boyfriend, Mickey Smith. I hated Mickey when he first appeared in the episode Rose, finding his stupidity and cowardice irritating and unfunny. However, he was exonerated in Aliens of London / World War Three, and Rayner takes him a stage further here, developing the character well and conveying several scenes from his point of view. His rise would continue in Boom Town and subsequent episodes.

The TARDIS crew are once again well portrayed, though there are a few bits of dialogue that don’t feel quite right for the Ninth Doctor. Would this incarnation really use the exclamation, “Bother”? As in The Clockwise Man, they are assisted by a young boy, no doubt with the intention of appealing to younger fans. In this instance, it is a teenager called Robert Watson, who lives out a fantasy of being a Harry Potter-style “chosen one”. He develops a crush on Rose, thus joining a long line of male characters who have become besotted by the girl.

In common with its two companion volumes, Winner Takes All doesn’t rock any boats in terms of the show’s mythology or the relationships between its main characters, but then it isn’t meant to. What these audio books do is take you right back to that exciting period when Doctor Who was back on our screens for the first time in ages – and with this new box set, you can take all three of them home.


Richard McGinlay

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