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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who and the Seeds of Doom


Author: Philip Hinchcliffe
Read by: Michael Kilgarriff
Publisher: BBC Audio
RRP: £20.00 (CD), £9.00 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78753 772 9 (CD),
978 1 78753 773 6 (download)
Release Date: 05 September 2019

In the snowy wastes of blizzard-swept Antarctica, a strange pod-like object is unearthed, buried deep in the ice. Curiosity turns to alarm as the pod begins to grow – then horror when, suddenly, it cracks open and a snaking green tendril shoots out, mercilessly seeking the nearest live victim. In London, botanical experts are bewildered, and the Doctor is called in to fight this unknown horror. But will he be in time to save Earth from the rapidly spreading tentacles of the Krynoid, giant man-eating monster from an alien world…?

Do you want to listen to a talking book version of a six-part Doctor Who story but are a bit short of time? Then this could be the product for you!

The print edition of this 1977 novelisation is relatively short, at 128 pages. Philip Hinchcliffe was ruthless in his adaptation of Robert Banks Stewart’s scripts for the 1976 serial (which was one of those that Hinchcliffe oversaw as producer), pruning away anything that he perceived as story padding. As a result, the delightfully eccentric character of artist Amelia Ducat, who was in three episodes of the television version, appears in only one scene here, just long enough for her to provide the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith with the information they need to locate the main villain, Harrison Chase.

Even so, I was astonished to find that this release runs to a mere 2 hours and 50 minutes (across three CDs for the physical audio edition). The reader, Michael Kilgarriff, speaks quickly, rarely pausing for breath – so much so that I wondered whether he had a train to catch. His rapidity does lend an air of urgency to the proceedings and makes for an action-packed listen, though occasionally the drama and tension could have been improved by allowing us a moment or two to consider the implications of what we have just been told. There’s no chance of vegging out here!

Kilgarriff wasn’t in the original serial, but he is sort of ‘owed’ a talking book commission by BBC Audio, as Tom Baker got the job of reading Doctor Who and the Giant Robot, the novelisation of Robot, in which Kilgarriff played the titular towering automation.

Six years ago, I praised Kilgarriff’s portentous performance of Doctor Who and the Tomb of the Cybermen, but this time his work is not so effective. Apart from the swiftness of his speech, the reader now has difficulty pronouncing his sibilants, seemingly due to deteriorating dentistry. This is not good news when narrating a story about snow and seeds, featuring character names such as Sarah, Scorby and Harrison Chase. Not all of Kilgarriff’s character voices sound distinctive, and the West Country accent that he uses for the henchman Scorby sometimes creeps into other voices. His interpretation of Chase is very different from that of the softly spoken Tony Beckley, who played the villain on screen, coming across more like Davros at times – shrill and prone to tantrums. However, Kilgarriff is surprisingly good at capturing the characteristic delivery of Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah.

Ultimately more of a bonsai tree than a mighty oak, Doctor Who and the Seeds of Doom nevertheless offers an efficient dose of ecological entertainment.


Richard McGinlay

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