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Audio Book Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who
Pest Control


Author: Peter Anghelides
Read by: David Tennant
BBC Audio
RRP: £9.99 (CD), £6.60 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 405 67819 3
Available 08 May 2008

The TARDIS is lost in battle on a distant planet. When the Doctor sets off in pursuit, Donna is left behind and finds herself accepting a commission in the Pioneer Corps. Something is transforming soldiers into monstrous beetles, and she could be the next victim. Meanwhile, the Doctor steals a motorbike and stages a jailbreak. Well, how hard can it be to find the TARDIS, rescue Donna and negotiate a peace? But that’s before the arrival of a brutal and remorseless mechanical exterminator, bent on wiping out the insects. It may be that nothing can stop it, because this robot’s solution for the infestation is simple: kill everything...

At last, Donna Noble makes her debut in an item of BBC spin-off fiction. (In my review of the novel Martha in the Mirror, I had moaned about the absence of new companion Donna.)

And at last, David Tennant returns to the world of Doctor Who talking books. He read the audio book versions of The Stone Rose, The Feast of the Drowned and The Resurrection Casket in 2006, but hadn’t done any since then, presumably because he’s been so busy making the actual TV show. Now that production is winding down to an extent, with only three specials being made for 2009, Tennant has time to lend his vocal talents to this story, which has been written exclusively for audio by Peter Anghelides.

The author is evidently aware of the typical strengths and weaknesses of the audio book medium, and thus avoids excessive description (which can cause the listener’s concentration to wander - well, this listener’s concentration at least), favouring instead dialogue and, in particular, providing plenty of rousing speeches for Tennant to read in character as the Doctor. Anghelides paints with broad strokes, throwing such diverse elements as a space war, alien centaurs, Kafkaesque transformations into monstrous insects and a giant exterminating robot into the bizarre mixture. I would say that he over-eggs the pudding, but in fact the plot struggles to keep going for the two-and-a-half-hour running time.

Nevertheless, Tennant’s reading brings necessary energy to the narrative. As with previous Who readings, he narrates using his native Scottish accent, which makes it easy to tell where the authorial voice ends and where the Doctor’s speech begins. He adopts some suitably annoying voices for the characters we are meant to dislike.

BBC Audio should have used the new theme, though: despite taking place during Series 4, this talking book uses the 2005-7 version of the signature tune, which bugs me a little. Sorry to be a pest.

Pest Control is a worthwhile exercise, but I would still prefer the Tenth Doctor’s book adventures to come out in print first.


Richard McGinlay

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