All is not well at the Wenley Moor underground atomic research
station in Derbyshire. There are unaccountable losses of power
output, nervous breakdowns amongst the staff, and then...
a death. UNIT is called in, and the Brigadier is soon joined
by the Doctor and Liz Shaw in a tense and exciting adventure
with subterranean reptile men - the original intelligent life
forms of this planet, who have been revived from aeons of
hibernation - and a 40ft-high Tyrannosaurus rex, the biggest,
most savage reptile ever to have walked the Earth...
In fact, the synopsis on the back of this four-CD pack states
that the T rex is the biggest, most savage mammal
which ever trod the Earth, a rather embarrassing scientific
inaccuracy. But then this is an entirely faithful presentation
of Malcolm Hulkes novelisation, originally published
by Target Books in January 1974 - even down to the wording
of the back-cover blurb. Narrator Caroline John, who played
Liz Shaw in the original television serial, Doctor Who
and the Silurians, even includes the Changing Face
of Doctor Who preface that appeared in the books
The cave monsters are never actually referred to as Silurians
in the book. Hulke, always a better writer than a scientist,
had borrowed the term for the titular creatures of his 1970
serial from the Silurian geological period, because he thought
it sounded good, even though it was a totally inappropriate
era for land vertebrates of any kind. The writer subsequently
fudged an explanation for this in his 1972 follow-up, The
Sea Devils, by having the Doctor claim that the beings
had been inaccurately named and should have been called Eocenes,
but that designation never really caught on. Here he avoids
the issue altogether by referring to them as reptile men and
However, the cause of the creatures hibernation, the
arrival of Earths moon from elsewhere in space, remains
unchanged. This poses a problem, because without the moon
there would be no tides, so how do we explain the geology
and life patterns that arose in response to tidal forces prior
to the moons presence? Another aspect of Who
mythology may provide the answer: Earths twin planet
Mondas, the original home of the Cybermen. We know that this
planet drifted into space for reasons unknown millions of
years ago. Perhaps, prior to the advent of the moon, the presence
of Mondas created tidal forces on Earth, and perhaps (as suggested
in David Bankss Cybermen book) the moons
arrival is what caused Mondas to drift from its orbit.
References to the Van Allen belt as a protective layer that
deflects solar radiation from Earth also remain unchecked.
In fact, these protective properties belong to the ozone layer.
I can offer no explanation for this, except perhaps that the
Doctor and Liz were too nervous to notice their error at the
As well as changing the name of the Silurian species, the
author also gives them individual names, which they did not
have in the original television serial. For unknown reasons,
he also alters the name of security chief Major Baker to Major
Barker - is it possible that Hulke was aware that Tom Baker
was about to be cast as the Fourth Doctor and so avoided using
the actors surname for such an unpleasant character?
Curiously, he leaves the name of the government minister Masters
unchanged - following the creation of the Doctors arch
enemy, the Master, such a surname usually indicates that a
character is the Master in disguise.
The most important adaptations that Hulke makes to his scripts,
however, is the additional material exploring the back-stories
and motivations of his characters. We are granted insights
into the inner thoughts, recollections and motivations of
protagonists such as the reptile men, who appear in an original
prologue; Dr Quinn, who is a really quite devious blackmailer;
Miss Dawson, who has been held back for years by a Steptoe-like
relationship with her ailing mother and is in love with Dr
Quinn; and Major Barker, who is trying to rebuild his career
following a regrettable incident involving the IRA.
Caroline John gives a lively reading, though some of her character
voices are better than others. The most distinctive voices
are those of the Scottish Dr Quinn and the gruff Major Barker.
The nasal Dr Lawrence and Masters are less successful, sometimes
coming across as vaguely comical. Johns high-pitched
Dr Lawrence is very different from the vocal qualities of
Peter Miles, the actor who played him on screen. The narrators
voice is modulated when reading reptile man speech.
Scientific inaccuracies aside, this is a good reading of a
great, adventurous yet moral story. With a running time in
excess of five hours, this CD pack will keep you occupied
for what might seem like aeons.